Next year’s FIFA won’t be called FIFA anymore, EA announced Tuesday. The mega sports franchise is parting ways with soccer’s international governing body and will be renamed EA Sports FC, but EA promises nothing else will change.
“Everything you love about our games will be part of EA SPORTS FC—the same great experiences, modes, leagues, tournaments, clubs and athletes will be there,” the company wrote in its announcement. Modes like Ultimate Team, Career, Pro Clubs, and VOLTA will all remain, alongside licenses to the biggest national leagues including Premier, LaLiga, and Bundesliga and all of the players, teams, and stadiums contained therein.
But while it’s claiming nothing will be lost with the shift from FIFA to EA Sports FC, the publisher is also pitching the new branding as an opportunity to create something new. After years of iterative cash-ins and the growing emphasis on exploitative loot boxes, I’ll believe it when I see it.
The name change won’t go into effect until 2023. In the meantime, EA still has FIFA 23 coming out later this year, a full reveal for which is likely to take place in the next couple months. EA released its first FIFA for the Sega Genesis way back in 1993.
According to reports last October, negotiations between EA and FIFA had gotten messy. EA wanted to expand the license into areas like NFTs, while FIFA wanted to retain more control so it could partner with other companies. In the end, it seems, EA wasn’t interested in paying the $1 billion price tag that was allegedly being requested to extend existing exclusivity deal.
In a couple years we will likely get to see how the biggest sports franchise in gaming fairs without its iconic name. Given the corrupt mess that FIFA (the governing body) has been, the larger entity was surely getting more out of the branding deal than gaming publisher EA was.
The series, which is an annual best-seller, will probably do just fine, especially if competitors like Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer, excuse me I mean eFootball, continue to struggle like last year’s dumpster fire.
Update: 5/10/22, 2:18 p.m. ET: Clearly salty about the split, FIFA hit back at the announcement of EA Sports FC with promises that it is already working on several new exciting projects with other publishing partners.
“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,” are the words FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, mired in controversy and scandal, actually wrote in a press release. “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.”
It certainly sounds like, in addition to other licensed projects, FIFA intends to keep releasing a game called FIFA, with or without EA’s help.
Here’s the rest of the statement:
The interactive gaming and esports sector is on a path of unrivalled growth and diversification. 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.
Alongside the new games, FIFA has granted a new short-term extension to existing publisher EA SPORTS to launch a new FIFA 23 title later this year, which will feature the men’s and women’s FIFA World Cup competitions in one edition for the first time.
The recently confirmed extension with EA SPORTS is a new arrangement that grants rights for the simulation football category only, freeing up broader gaming rights for FIFA and different gaming publishers to launch new games and more deeply immersive experiences for fans and football stakeholders.
This new, non-exclusive licensing model follows on from an extended period of discussions between the parties relating to FIFA’s future gaming vision. As announced in October 2021, FIFA intends to work with a range of partners rather than lock up all gaming and esports rights exclusively with one publisher for the long term.
As well as launching a portfolio of new games during 2022 and 2023, FIFA is currently engaging with leading game publishers, media companies and investors in regard to the development of a major new FIFA simulation football game title for 2024.