They say all good things must come to an end and that’s exactly what is happening between FIFA and EA Sports. After 30 years, FIFA and EA Sports are parting ways, ending a relationship that produced one of the most popular (and profitable) sports video games series of all time.
Electronic Arts and FIFA’s original deal was scheduled to end after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar but that was adjusted. The agreement will conclude after the Women’s World Cup, which is set to take place in the Summer of 2023. At the end of that tournament, players who enjoyed playing EA Sports’ FIFA will have a new game to play: EA Sports FC.
The good news is that users of the game (which includes over 150 million players) will be familiar with the new product. Despite removing the word FIFA from the title, the base game will still be the same. EA Sports tends to add patches and new features to their yearly releases and users can look forward to EA Sports FC with familiarity. Most of the famous clubs that are playable in the current game will still be playable in the new version. This is due to separate licensing deals with the respective leagues and teams. However, famous tournaments like the World Cup and other FIFA events will no longer be included.
FIFA became synonymous with video-game soccer. When video gamers asked if they played FIFA, they knew gamers were referring to the popular Electronic Arts title. Despite other soccer games on the market (that include soccer in the title), FIFA became the most popular soccer game on the planet. Those who are not familiar with the sport were introduced to popular teams and players thanks to the relationship between FIFA and Electronic Sports.
The deal between EA and FIFA was quite lucrative. In the past two decades, the game has generated more than $20 billion in sales. And as one would expect, the two sides could not agree due to different financial expectations. It was reported that FIFA was seeking double the annual payment (from EA Sports) they normally receive, which is somewhere in the $150 million range.
FIFA argued that exclusively signing with EA Sports would limit its options in the digital world of video game soccer, a place where new platforms and games could generate an even larger revenue stream. FIFA has already agreed to multiple ventures that would roll out other soccer-themed games, set to be released at the end of 2022. However, those games will not offer the same simulation soccer gamers have come to know.
In addition to a new financial deal, FIFA were hoping to attach its brand to other digital products and games. FIFA can now search for a new game developer to host its name and popular tournaments, but they will be hard-pressed to find a company that produces a soccer video game as consistent as EA Sports. Plus, the majority of soccer fans have already grown fond of the current mechanics offered by EA Sports, so trying to persuade the player base to opt for a new game will be quite challenging.
Soccer continues to be one of the most popular sports around the globe. In the sports world, EA Sports’ FIFA was the most popular video game for several years and continues to be a pillar in the community. Soccer continues to grow as well, as it is one of the most wagered upon sports in betting apps as well, which is another market that has flourished thanks to the popularity of the sport.
Betting apps in Canada have seen an increase in wagers thanks to the national team reaching the World Cup for the first time since 1986. Canada has continuously seen a growth in youth soccer signups and the sport has become popular across the country, thanks to national success and generations that grew up with the sport (within Canada and beyond).
Circling back to EA and FIFA, could the greed of FIFA bite them in the long run like it has in the past? While the gaming world waits for a (new) FIFA video game, EA Sports will continue to release a product that has been a household name for decades. FIFA certainly have the money to produce a great video game, but finding a developer to take on the task will be a tough challenge as splitting a user base is not guaranteed.
It’s an interesting time for video game fans. A soccer video game will be released yearly but with a potential new product hitting shelves, how will that impact sales with EA Sports FC and a new game backed by FIFA?
Soccer fans will have plenty of options and the market will be intriguing for video game fans and video game developers as the world watches the fallout between EA Sports and FIFA.
I'm a published author and proud US Army veteran who happens to be a gamer, so I decided to combine the two and love every minute of it! Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments and I'll be sure to get back to you.