On Tuesday, EA Sports officially announced the end of its partnership with FIFA. Their partnership led to over two decades of games developed by EA featuring the FIFA name on the box but in July of 2023 EA will move forward with a new name, EA Sports FC.
While other soccer games have always existed, such as Pro Evolution Soccer, it’s rare to see a developer and a major name like FIFA end exclusivity rights like this. Having the FIFA name on the box has historically been very powerful and that power is something FIFA is going to continue trying to use through developers that aren’t EA. In a press release, FIFA announced that it would use the lack of exclusivity to explore a larger variety of soccer games. FIFA President Gianni Infantino also assured his belief that the brand behind FIFA was more powerful than any other soccer game out there.
Gianni Infantino going ALL CAPS in a strangely feisty statement.
"I can assure you that the only authentic, real game that has the FIFA name will be the best one available … FIFA 24, FIFA 25 … the constant is the FIFA name and it will remain forever and remain THE BEST." pic.twitter.com/m51UDy3O1M
— Henry Bushnell (@HenryBushnell) May 10, 2022
“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. 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.”
In one way, it makes sense why Infantino would feel this way about the FIFA brand on its video games. They’re one of the largest brands in the world and that familiarity on the box has a chance to draw in fans for that alone. Also, the prospect of having more than one or two soccer games every year to choose from is an enticing one, but as we saw with the disastrous launch of Konami’s eFootball it takes more than just branding to make a strong soccer game. EA Sports already has a strong foundation to build its new games on, plus partnerships with most major leagues and clubs across the world.
We’ll see what this means when its first game, FIFA World Cup Quatar 2022, launches. This may be the start of a new great rivalry in sports gaming, or it could be a final whimper from a major brand desperate to stay relevant in video games.