After failing to reach a new licencing agreement, Electronic Arts will discontinue producing its immensely successful FIFA video game under its present brand, signalling the end of one of soccer’s most successful and lucrative partnerships.
Instead, EA Sports FC will be available starting in 2023, once the company completes the final game in collaboration with FIFA later this year.
The game’s licencing rights bring in around $150 million a year, making it the single biggest commercial earner in FIFA’s projected $7 billion overall revenue from 2019 through 2022, however the organisation sounded defiant in a statement released hours after the news broke.
FIFA has promised a “number of new non-simulation games (that) are already under production” that will be released in time for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which begins in November.
FIFA stated that it intends to build a “new gaming model,” citing the debut of its streaming service FIFA+ as an example.
“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,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said in a statement.
For nearly 30 years, EA has produced a FIFA game, and its strong association with tens of millions of gamers around the world helped the Zurich-based company’s reputation recover after a wave of arrests of soccer officials in 2015.
FIFA has become a video game rather than a sporting institution for generations of young people.
Despite the fact that EA Sports FC will be unable to feature FIFA content such as the World Cup, it will continue to have licencing agreements with major soccer leagues such as the English Premier League and the UEFA-organized Champions League.
With warm comments from executives from the Premier League, UEFA, and Spain’s La Liga, the EA Sports FC announcement demonstrated the strength of those partnerships, while a coordinated release of tweets from dozens of soccer clubs used the slogan “We’re In The Club” to align with the EA Sports FC brand.
“We’re thankful for our many years of great partnership with FIFA,” EA CEO Andrew Wilson said. “The future of global football is very bright, and fandom around the world has never been stronger.”
While Wilson promised “even more innovative and authentic experiences to the growing football audience,” FIFA promised “new, interactive experiences to fans across the globe.”
“The interactive gaming and e-sports sector is on a path of unrivaled growth and diversification,” Infantino said. “FIFA’s strategy is to ensure we can make the most of all future options and ensure a wide range of products and opportunities for gamers, fans, member associations and partners.”
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