Earlier this year, EA Sports and FIFA ended a partnership that had lasted for 30 years, mostly because the irredeemably corrupt sports governing body had started making all kinds of wild demands for the rights to their name. EA walked away, and FIFA tried to pretend everything was going to be just fine. It is clearly not fine.
As we reported at the time of the split:
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.
FIFA has been very quick to make those partnerships with “other companies,” which have already resulted in an embarrassing Roblox tie-in, but things got so much worse earlier today when FIFA blasted out a press release titled, “FIFA unveils range of new web 3.0 games ahead of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.”
The announcement, which leads with promises it’s about esports but which is really about hawking some awful crypto/metaverse shit, says four additional FIFA World Cup games are coming alongside the Roblox one, and all will feature some kind of nightmarish web 3.0 integration.
First up is AI League: FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Edition, which is a “4-on-4 casual football game, played between AI-controlled characters, with player input at fun and tactical moments.” This is a common theme in web 3.0 games, because it’s much easier to design and implement. It also removes any enjoyment from the game, another hallmark of web 3.0 titles.
The second is FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in the Upland Metaverse. “Upland is the largest blockchain-based metaverse mapped to the real world,” the release says, “where players can buy and sell virtual properties. Now they can collect official FIFA World Cup digital assets, including legendary video highlights of the tournament.” I feel like I am back in March 2021.
The third, Matchday Challenge: FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Edition, “targets the emotional high of football fandom through a highly engaging casual social prediction game based on football cards, where the essence of the fun is derived not just from “getting it right” but by being the best among your friends.”
The fourth is FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 on Phygtl. We spent a little time debating just how that would be pronounced before I finally settled on “Fig-Tull.” It doesn’t even sound like a game, but more of a blockchain fever dream:
Phygtl [is] a fan engagement mobile application that takes fandom into a new dimension. An immersive experience fans join forces on with the mission to co-create the global first fan generate digital reward. Fans can augment a golden-globe-football from the palm of their hands into their real-life environment, own a limited fragment of it to attach and eternalize their handpicked FIFA World Cup pictures and video moments. A digital representation of eternal fandom.
It’s hard picking which is the single funniest thing from all these announcements, from the months-past-the-bubble-bursting timing of the deals to the fact nobody pitching these has any interest in actual video game design, but has got their bag from FIFA regardless.
I think the winner, though, is the fact that watching FIFA flail about like this, with no idea what the hell they’re doing, almost makes you feel bad for EA Sports. I wonder how many years they had to sit in a boardroom with morons from FIFA pitching this kind of garbage? I’m sure the answer, given their acrimonious split, is “too many.”