All good things must come to an end
For years now, sports games have dominated the gaming industry. Titles like Madden, NBA 2K, and FIFA make their way onto each year’s top sellers list consistently, and rake in millions of dollars in revenue every year. While Electronic Arts’ soccer (or football) centric series has been one of the most prominent among them, the company just announced that they might be parting ways with the FIFA brand, bringing a partnership stretching thirty years to an end.
At an internal company meeting last November, EA’s CEO Andrew Wilson gave an insight into how license negotiations with the governing footballing body had been going. Based on comments shared anonymously with Video Games Chronicle, EA reportedly thought of FIFA as holding them back from making the creative decisions that they wanted to implement beyond the standard 11v11 mode. Being free of the expensive brand would also free up EA’s resources to focus on different projects, as well as implement changes that players want much more quickly.
VGC: EA CEO Andrew Wilson is apparently ready to drop the FIFA brand from the games, calling it "an impediment"
– sees value in hundreds of other licenses, especially outside WC years– players want non-FIFA brands in the games too (e.g. Nike)
— Nibel (@Nibellion) February 23, 2022
Wilson then went on to suggest that the value that FIFA gave EA as a brand outside of World Cup years didn’t amount to much more than “four letters on the front of the box.”
In that same meeting, Wilson went so far as to say that “the FIFA brand has more meaning as a video game than it does as a governing body of soccer.” Bold claim, but not an entirely unfounded one.
According to a report from the New York Times also published last year, negotiations slowed to a halt due to EA’s demand for more rights in what they can do with the series, as well as FIFA’s alleged demand for nearly doubled licensing fees, which would come out to about $2.5 billion over the next decade.
Ties haven’t officially been severed yet, but in an official statement from EA last October, the company implied that even if they choose to part ways with FIFA, they would not necessarily be dropping their other player, league, and stadium licenses. FIFA also divulged that they are open to working with new game companies.
It seems like the writing is on the wall for these two organizations, but only time will tell.