Nothing changes except the name

“Never again EA Sports FIFA!” Electronic Arts dropped this bombshell last Tuesday and caused a mighty stir in the sports game world! Rumors that the eponymous world football association and the game manufacturer would part ways sooner or later have been circulating since last year. It was not until October 2021 that various reports appeared that EA wanted to continue without the FIFA branding in the future. The costs are too high, the benefits too low. “We can’t get more than four letters on the cover,” company boss Andrew Wilson reportedly said in a meeting. The license has always become more of a curse than a blessing.

That the efforts to find a compromise between the two parties have now really failed comes as a bit of a surprise. Because it not only means the end of a well-known series of games, but also the end of an incredibly successful cooperation that ran for almost three decades – and brought in a lot of money for both sides. EA Sports is said to have earned over $20 billion from the series over the past 20 years, and the world association collects $150 million in license fees annually. Nevertheless, the final end followed.

EA Sports FC instead of FIFA – Nothing changes for us players | column

The current deal has been extended again until the summer of next year to include the World Cup in Qatar and the Women’s World Cup in Australia. At least FIFA 23 will be released as usual this fall. After that, however, the franchise will continue under the name EA Sports FC, while FIFA itself wants to do its own thing. So both sides are facing an enormous upheaval and things will change for the players as well. At least that’s how it seems. However, I am of the relatively firm conviction: Not much will really happen in the virtual soccer world!

The cooperation between EA and FIFA started in 1994 with International Soccer. 28 years later it’s over now.

Source: PCGH

Of course, one can argue that the loss of the “FIFA” name is pretty serious for EA Sports. After all, the brand is one of the biggest in the gaming, if not the entire media industry. If you google FIFA, the game will be suggested first and then the world governing body. By renaming you risk a lot of recognition value. And yes, there will definitely be one or the other occasional player who only buys a new football game every three years, who will then stand in front of the shelf in amazement and ask themselves: where has FIFA gone now? But that will most likely not really hurt the image and sales. We’re not in a situation like Facebook, which lost $500 billion after its meta rebrand.

Most of the nine million players who played FIFA 22 last year (buy now €25.22) who have invested thousands of euros in microtransactions, the name change will not matter – as long as the presentation, gameplay and content are right. The hardcore gamers don’t suddenly migrate to Konami. They continue to access EA, because that’s the only way to maybe draw Pelé from a pack of cards.

No more World Cup for EA Sports

And that will definitely remain the case, because after all the basic structure of the game will not be shaken. “Everything you love about our games will be part of EA SPORTS FC,” said Cam Weber, general manager of EA SPORTS, in an official statement. “Same great experiences, modes, leagues, tournaments, […] Ultimate Team, Career Mode, Pro Clubs and VOLTA Football will all be included.”

It's in the Game: Liverpool FC and the rest of the Premier League continue to feature exclusively in Electronic Arts games.

It’s in the Game: Liverpool FC and the rest of the Premier League continue to feature exclusively in Electronic Arts games.

Source: EA Sports

The licenses also remain largely untouched. Existing agreements with clubs, leagues and other partners still apply. Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool FC and Real Madrid have already sworn their loyalty to EA in public. The company continues to hold the exclusive rights to the English Premier League and the German Bundesliga. And UEFA and FIFPRO are also still on board – and thus more than 19,000 players, 700 clubs and 100 stadiums. The only notable loss is that EA will no longer be allowed to add a soccer World Cup to the game in the future. But you can probably screw that up.

So you can go so far as to say in the old Raider Twix manner: FIFA is now called EA Sports FC, otherwise nothing will change. It would also be naïve to think that the rebranding would result in any game design revolution. Even if EA sells it completely differently, of course.