As soon as we thought that this will be a slow year for video games, EA Sports and FIFA decided to drop this bombshell. EA Sports and FIFA will not be renewing their lucrative 3-decade old contract. There was some commotion on the internet regarding the tense nature of the contract negotiations between FIFA and EA. However, most people did not pay much heed to the news since it seemed improbable that EA would part ways with FIFA. The news almost came out of nowhere and soon the confirmation tweet by EA Sports made it official. Needless to say, the fans did not take lightly to the news. With their proverbial pitchforks, the fans vehemently opposed the decision. Many were quick to declare it the demise of the series.
However, to clarify a bit, the majority of the gameplay and presentation are unlikely to get affected. EA Sports seems to be doing away with the branding of FIFA and their controlled events like the World Cup only. They do have separate contracts with the leagues and clubs, which won’t be affected at all. The FIFA-less football game will still have “more than 300 individual licensed partners, giving players access to more than 19,000 athletes across 700 teams, in 100 stadiums and over 30 leagues around the world.” Those partners include major international leagues like the Premier League, LaLiga, Bundesliga, UEFA, CONMEBOL, and more. Nonetheless, the fans do have a right to be panicked, given the shady track record of EA Sports with their microtransactions and other questionable decisions.
The EA and FIFA partnership history
The partnership was highly profitable for both parties. EA’s partnership with FIFA can be traced way back to 1993 when they released FIFA International Soccer. Since then, EA has followed up with annual releases every year. They also dabbled in a few spin-offs centered around the street football and futsal named, FIFA Street. The game generated more than $20 billion in sales over the past two decades. Thus, things started to get tense when FIFA demanded at least double their expected contract offer of $150 million which they received annually. There were extended talks between FIFA’s new president Gianni Infantino and Electronic Arts chief executive Andrew Wilson. However, when both the parties could not reach a satisfying conclusion, they decided to part their ways amicably.
With this decision, EA Sports will now be without the official FIFA branding which according to the gaming community had held back its only viable competitor, Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer or as it’s called nowadays eFootball. Coincidentally, last year eFootball adopted a free-to-play model and they redesigned their game engine and presentation. However, the game was globally panned for various glitches and sub-par graphics. This proved beneficial for EA as it became the sole football video game that remained mainstream with generally favorable reviews. They also were able to monopolize the market that they earlier shared with PES.
FIFA on their behalf also gave a statement stating that they are looking for new partners for “non-simulation” football games. They also mentioned that they will be launching it this year, which did shock a few people as people kept wondering how long was this planned. The obvious choices to take into consideration are Konami and 2K Games. Konami is already in the market with their eFootball so it won’t be a hassle for them to apply for the licensing. However, inquiring minds have pointed out that the usage of “non-simulation” football games might point towards 2K when they announced their NFL2K franchise and termed it “non-simulation” to get around EA’s exclusive license for NFL “simulation” games.
Future looks interesting
Nonetheless, FIFA has also clarified that they are working with game publishers, media companies, and investors regarding the development of a major new FIFA simulation football game title for 2024. President Infantino was quoted saying “The FIFA name is the only global, original title. FIFA 23, FIFA 24, FIFA 25, and FIFA 26, and so on—the constant is the FIFA name and it will remain forever and remain the best.”
However, this year after a really long time, EA Sports will be producing a football game without FIFA. It will certainly intrigue us as to how the game will turn out. More news to follow in 2023 when the game will officially drop.
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