For three decades, the FIFA video game series has been the go-to console entertainment for football fans, with rival competitors struggling to match the staggering numbers put up by EA Sports on a year-in, year-out basis.
But next year, that near-30-year partnership will come to a close, as the developer prepares to launch EA Sports FC, a successor to the hugely popular franchise that will see them cut ties with world football's governing body.
So what has gone wrong between EA and FIFA? GOAL explores what we know so far and what the future of the game could look like.
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What is EA Sports FC?
‘EA Sports FC' is the name which was trademarked by EA Sports as they plan for a FIFA-less future.
An official statement released by the EA Sports general manager, Cam Weber, confirming the name change read: "After nearly 30 years of creating genre-defining interactive football experiences, we will soon begin an exciting new era.
"Next year, EA Sports FC will become the future of football from EA Sports. Alongside our 300+ license partners across the sport, we’re ready to take global football experiences to new heights, on behalf of all football fans around the world."
What do you think of the new name? Let us know in the comments 👇
What will the new EA Sports football game be called?
The new game, as it stands, will simply be titled EA Sports FC - though whether it is handed a numerical addition in a similar way to the current FIFA run remains to be seen.
EA Sports has announced that FIFA 23 will be the last hurrah for the company's link-up with FIFA.
The current deal between the two companies does not run out until after the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
The World Cup will take place in December of 2022. The FIFA games are typically released two months prior, in the September/October period, which means FIFA 23 would still be within the parameters of their current deal.
Furthermore, according to Xfire, FIFA 23 will have a World Cup mode, like it did in 2018 and 2014. However this would not be possible if the game was to have a different title, as it is FIFA who provide EA with the licensing rights to the World Cup.
Despite the name change EA Sports insists "everything you love" about the game will remain, including Ultimate Team, Career Mode, Pro Clubs and VOLTA Football.
Why is EA Sports changing the 'FIFA' franchise name?
According to the New York Times, negotiations between the two halted due to EA’s desire for more rights as well as FIFA’s request for double the amount of money for licensing rights, a staggering £2.5 billion ($3.2 billion) over the next decade.
The EA CEO, Andrew Wilson, described FIFA as “an impediment” to the ambitions of EA for the football game series.
“As we’ve looked to the future we want to grow the franchise, and ironically the FIFA licence has actually been an impediment to that” he said.
When discussing the possibility of a new deal, Wilson commented: “At the end of the day, I don’t know if we’re going to get there, and ironically, if we don’t, and we’re able to rebrand our game and take control of this global football ecosystem that we’re going to build, ironically we’ll probably generate more revenue, and have more fans, and have more engagement over time”
Wilson also went on to add that, “the FIFA brand has more meaning as a video game than it does a governing body of soccer”
And so, on the face of it, it looks as if EA are the driving force behind the disengagement of the two companies, preaching that EA could have more creative and innovative freedom without the restrictions which FIFA presents.
FIFA did, however, bite back with a statement of their own, suggesting that they would be open to working with other developers.
What other names has EA Sports used?
The EA Sports football game series has always contained the word ‘FIFA’ within its title, given their partnership with the global football organisation.
However the names of the games have had slight alterations throughout the years such as ‘FIFA International Soccer’, ‘FIFA Football’, 'FIFA World Cup’ and ‘FIFA Street’.
Will EA lose rights to club names, badges or stadiums?
The substantial number of other licences which EA holds in the footballing world mean that gamers would notice little to no difference in future games.
"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," read the EA Sports statement.
"That includes exclusive partnerships with the Premier League, LaLiga, Bundesliga, Serie A, the MLS – and more to come."
Wilson touched on this matter, stating: “Basically, what we get from FIFA in a non-World Cup year is the four letters on the front of the box……we have 300 other licences that give us the content that our players engage with the most and the most deeply.”
EA even own separate licences with clubs such as Liverpool and Chelsea, providing them with further access and opportunities.
In the case of Juventus, or ‘Piemonte Calcio’, the reasons behind their removal from the EA Sports game series derives from a deal which was struck between themselves and Konami’s eFootball (PES at the time).
However, deals which have taken clubs away from EA Sports have been few and far between, EA Sports’ access and coverage is vast and unrivalled, putting them in a place of immense strength, with or without FIFA.