EA Gambled By Breaking Ties With FIFA; Looks Like It Paid Off

Turns out the company will do just fine without the FIFA branding.

Story Highlights

  • FIFA aimed to double its licensing fee from EA Sports which was initially $150 million and these demands exceeded EA Sports’ limits, resulting in the non-renewal of their contract.
  • With the anticipation building for the next installment in the football genre, EA unveiled EA Sports FC 24 on July 10, 2023, which went on to be a big success and surpassed FIFA 23’s early access sales.
  • FIFA intends to expand its game releases, allowing other publishers to create related experiences for the FIFA World Cup and discussing projects for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. 

EA’s FIFA franchise has lasted for almost 3 decades but due to license issues, EA declined to renew the FIFA license causing both parties to go their separate ways. Although EA’s decision to sever ties with FIFA was a risky move, it appears to have paid off. Before pointing out the success, it’s important to go back and see why the license issue occurred in the first place.

Why Did The Partnership End?

FIFA 23 brought an end to 29 years of FIFA games EA published
FIFA 23 brought an end to 29 years of FIFA games EA published

For a series that went on for at least 25 years, you’d expect it to never end but anything can happen in business. It all started when FIFA aimed to secure a licensing fee twice its current amount which was 150 million dollars from EA Sports. Additionally, FIFA sought to associate its brand with other digital products, including video games, which ultimately exceeded EA Sports’ boundaries.

Therefore, the contract wasn’t renewed, and both parties went their separate ways. EA Sports’ president and general manager, Cam Weber, announced that the company would not be continuing its partnership with FIFA and that license agreements were being reviewed on how to proceed forward.

Also, he emphasizes the importance of authenticity in the games, highlighting extensive partnerships with over 300 licensed partners, and granting access to thousands of athletes, teams, stadiums, and leagues worldwide. He expressed his commitment to investing in meaningful partnerships to deliver unrivaled authenticity in the company’s EA SPORTS football games for the foreseeable future.

As we look ahead, we’re also exploring the idea of renaming our global EA SPORTS football games. This means we’re reviewing our naming rights agreement with FIFA, which is separate from all our other official partnerships and licenses across the football world.”

This marked the end of an era for a gaming franchise that many grew up with as most titles were delisted from prominent online stores. While many were curious about how EA will move forward, others were salvaging the last title which was FIFA 23 until a new game was announced. Therefore, it wasn’t a surprise that the last title with the FIFA branding went out with a bang as the game sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.

The end of a long partnership marked the end of an era for EA's FIFA franchise
The end of a long partnership marked the end of an era for EA’s FIFA franchise

While I prefer watching live matches rather than playing the actual game, I’ve gone through FIFA 14 to FIFA 17 and I believe that EA’s success with the FIFA series comes from leveraging the seasonal nature of football, making minimal changes while marketing it as a fresh product each year. So, I was interested to see if the next game would be a major overhaul or just another product with a few additional bonuses.

A Risky Gamble That Paid Off

EA Sports FC 24 marked the beginning of a new era for EA football games
EA Sports FC 24 marked the beginning of a new era for EA football games

Now that everyone knew that the next entry wouldn’t be FIFA 24, all eyes were on EA and what new name it would reveal for the next entry in the football genre. On July 10, 2023, players got their first look at EA Sports FC 24 which introduced Career Mode, AcceleRATE 2.0, and HyperMotionV technology which brought more fluidity to its gameplay.

YouTube video

Upon reveal, EA Sports announced that the debut of EA Sports FC 24 has been highly successful, with over 6.8 million players registered during the early access period. This represents a 25% increase compared to FIFA 23’s early access period and reflects the company’s efforts in partnering with leagues like La Liga and the Premier League to ensure an authentic digital football experience.

Even without FIFA branding, EA Sports FC 24 has attracted 11.3 million players in its first week, surpassing the 10.3 million players who joined FIFA 23 during the same period, which was considered a record-breaking launch for the franchise, indicating the series’ continued success. However, it’s worth noting that these figures include EA Play subscribers and may not solely represent sales.

Despite the success, the game still suffered major issues such as a game-breaking bug identified in Career Mode where firing a coach results in a frozen screen. While updates have been made, this issue still hasn’t been resolved and a lot of users are still reporting the bug in official EA Forums. However, these issues didn’t overshadow the game’s success and the overall reception has been positive

What’s Next For FIFA?

FIFA plans to expand the genre beyond video games
FIFA plans to expand the genre beyond video games

Moving forward, FIFA plans to release more games while opening up opportunities for other publishers to create new games and virtual experiences related to the FIFA World Cup and is discussing additional projects for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. FIFA President Gianni Infantino assures that the FIFA name will continue to be the best and remain forever.

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. 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.”

Additionally, FIFA is adopting a non-exclusive licensing model to work with multiple partners for its gaming and esports rights, aiming to release new games and explore collaborations with game publishers, media companies, and investors for a major FIFA simulation football game in 2024. Furthermore, new non-simulation games are being developed, which include the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 experience immersing fans in the football world.

While EA is enjoying its risky glory, only time will tell if it can keep up the momentum. As for FIFA, while it’s true that a brand carries a lot of power just from its name. However, if the product it releases is not of decent quality, then no amount of brand power can save it from disaster. The plans do look promising from both sides so only time will tell if the execution will deliver on these promises.

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Source
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Amama Farrukh is a News Reporter on eXputer who’s been passionate about playing and writing about games since an early age. As a die-hard God of War fan, she’s really into gory hack-and-slash titles that get her adrenaline pumping. She’s got a bachelor's in Business Administration and several years of experience reporting on the gaming industry. Experience: 3+ Years || Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration || Previously worked as a Freelancer || Published 100+ News Stories

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