Bad, or maybe even good, news for all FIFA fans. The long-term partnership between EA Sports and FIFA has come to an end. As it seems, FIFA 23 will be the last game in the sequel after almost three decades of this franchise. EA Sports confirmed that the new football game planned for 2023 would be called EA Sports FC, and it will bring many new features to the game.
EA Sports & FIFA Partnership
The partnership regarding naming rights between EA Sports and FIFA lasted for almost 30 years. The first FIFA game was released around Christmas in 1994. Back then, it was called FIFA International Soccer. The game was released annually, and every new version of the game had some variation of those four letters "FIFA" in its title.
It was one of the two most played football games with only one real competitor, Konami's Winning Eleven, internationally known as Pro Evolution Soccer (PES). After the Ultimate Team update in 2009, PES couldn't compete with FIFA anymore, and FIFA took the market and became the most played football game. That year, FIFA sold 8,7 million copies while PES was at 6,9 million. In the following years, the distance between those two games grew apart even more. For instance, in 2019, PES sold only 550,000 copies compared to FIFA's 12.2 million.
Considering the fact that the FIFA brand is incredibly recognized, even the new eFootball game (former PES) stands no chance of competing. But how much is that brand actually worth?
Last year, NY Times reported that FIFA requested from EA to double the annual amount of $150 million for the brand name. As it seems, EA refused to pay that hefty amount only to use those four letters on the front of the box. And, that's it. The relationship between the two is officially over, and FIFA 23 will be the last one in the series. So, what the future holds for FIFA and EA Sports?
What's Next for FIFA and EA Sports?
In the last interview, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: "I can assure you that the only authentic, real game that has the FIFA name will be the best one available for gamers and football fans."
With this in mind, we can be certain that FIFA will sell its license rights to another video-game developer company, maybe Konami or even 2K Games.
There is a huge possibility that an American giant 2K Games can sweep in to take the FIFA license. 2K Games is a major player in sports video-game creation. Their most successful game is NBA2K, which is, by far, the best selling basketball video game on the market. They have the resources to create a football version and enter into a market with only two triple-A competitors. But are they ready to do so? Only time will tell.
On the other side, EA Sports has different plans. Besides deciding not to pay for branding rights, they still claim that their new game will have everything previous ones did.
EA Sports' stated: "Our unique licensing portfolio of more than 19,000+ players, 700+ teams, 100+ stadiums, and 30 leagues that we've continued to invest in for decades will still be there, uniquely in EA Sports FC.
According to EA Sports, the FIFA license is separate from league and club licenses, so the game will still be pretty much the same. The game itself may not be called FIFA anymore, but you will still be able to play with your favorite teams and continue enjoying the Ultimate Team experience.
In addition to that, the company also stated that their new independent platform would offer a new opportunity to innovate, create and evolve. This may include new mods and new versions that their previous agreement didn't support.
Whatever happens, even without FIFA, EA Sports still is the biggest and the oldest player in the football video-game creation market. They indeed have an ace or two up their sleeve and something big prepared for the upcoming release.