EA Sports and Fifa have ended their long-term partnership, so what's next?

Revered football video game is being given a name change after a far-from-amicable split

French footballer Kylian Mbappe on the cover of copies of Fifa 22. Electronic Arts has announced that it will cease making Fifa-branded football games from 2023 and the series will continue under a new brand, EA Sports FC. EPA
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Video game creator EA Sports and global football organisation, Fifa, have blown the full-time whistle on their partnership after almost three decades. Fifa — the game, not the governing body — will bear the name EA Sports FC from 2023 onwards.

It comes as no surprise as EA mentioned in a blog post in October 2021 that it was “exploring the idea of renaming our global EA Sports football games.” And, according to industry reports, Fifa wanted more than double the amount it was currently receiving from the series’ licence — demanding a cool $1 billion every four years — which likely forced their hand on choosing not to renew it.

Considering EA Sports does a majority of the legwork in creating the game, it does seem like an enormous amount of money just to use a logo and be associated with Fifa.

What to expect from 'EA Sports FC'

Despite the end of the deal, EA was quick to point out that EA Sports FC will continue to use the licences it currently has. This includes more than 19,000 players across 700 teams and competitions such as the Uefa Champions League and more. Although there won’t be an official Fifa World Cup game coming from the studio any more.

EA Sports made the groundbreaking announcement via a press release that promises: "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. Ultimate Team, Career Mode, Pro Clubs and Volta Football will all be there.”

EA is said to believe the end of the partnership with Fifa allows them to be more creative in its offering for EA Sports FC. Without the red tape of football’s governing body, it is free to add creative content and updates to its game continuously, and experiment with NFTs, play-to-earn mechanics, and even include live football matches that can be watched in-game.

In short, the future seems bright.

Fifa's response to the end of the partnership

In a fiery response to EA’s announcement, Fifa president Gianni Infantino issued a surprising statement via FIFA.com: “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.” It’s a bold claim and one that we’re very interested to see how it plays out.

Can anyone overtake EA?

You see, Infantino may know more than we do, but finding a new studio to take on EA Sports will be no mean feat. Over the past three decades, the Vancouver studio has outsold its nearest rival, Konami’s eFootball (nee Pro Evolution Soccer), so convincingly that other publishers haven’t even bothered to try to make a new football IP for decades.

The coming free-to-play UFL from start-up studio Strikerz is one to watch, but the EA Sports juggernaut will continue to make contenders shake in their boots with or without the Fifa logo.

You only have to look at the hashtag #EASPORTSFC across social media to see how intertwined with real football the studio is. The likes of ex-Manchester United ace Rio Ferdinand and the Premier League showed their support for the new EA Sports era in a co-ordinated marketing operation. It’s not going to disappear any time soon.

But whatever happens, this divorce is a huge win-win for gamers. Unfairly or not, EA Sports has been accused of resting on its laurels as it sits, unopposed, at the top of the table, with each annual iteration almost identical with the last.

But with new rivals about to the hit the pitch, EA is now forced to be creative and think of fresh ways to deliver the world of football through its video games.

Updated: May 11, 2022, 2:25 PM