Since 1993, EA and FIFA have been synonymous. With its FIFA games, EA has created a beloved franchise with the official Fédération Internationale de Football Association branding. It seems that could soon change.
In a recent press release, EA trumpeted its, “recording-breaking FIFA 22 launch,” with over nine million players joining since the game’s October 1 launch. Most of it is run-of-the-mill, boring stuff. But near the bottom, there’s this nugget:
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.
Woah. Yep, that’s right, EA is thinking of renaming its soccer games, and is currently reexamining the deal it has with FIFA. According to EA, this would be independent of its other licensing deals.
In the same press release, EA mentions that is has over 300 individual licensed partners, which entails over 17,000 athletes in over 700 teams in over 30 leagues worldwide, in one 100 stadiums. Making games is expensive enough, before you add all these licensing fees. Plus, on top of that, add the FIFA branding, which probably isn’t cheap!
If the FIFA naming rights agreement was changed, then it seems inevitable that the name would be dropped. While the games would essentially be what players enjoy and expect, the official FIFA sheen and varnish would be gone.
The official FIFA logo will be seen by some as being akin to the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for soccer fans. FIFA is a brand, a powerful brand, and FIFA is one of the most popular games on Earth! As Konami already showed, changing your soccer game’s name—albeit to a dumb one—can be very risky. It’ll be interesting to see if this is a negotiation tactic by EA, or if they will really rebrand the franchise.