VILLARREAL, SPAIN - MAY 03: Luis Diaz of Liverpool celebrates scoring his side's 2nd goal during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Leg Two match between Villarreal and Liverpool at Estadio de la Ceramica on May 03, 2022 in Villarreal, Spain. (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)
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FIFA And EA Sports Split – Famous Soccer Title Will Have New Name And New Rivals

If you have been playing soccer games on your console or your PC, then it is highly likely that the game you have played is FIFA.

The EA Sports title has become synonymous with soccer gaming and is widely used both by individuals on their own machines, online against other opponents and also as the basis for a major esports title too.

However, due to disagreements over how much to pay for licensing the FIFA brand name in the series, EA Sports and FIFA have announced that they will not renew their partnership beyond the release of the forthcoming FIFA 23 title (which, somewhat confusingly, will be released later this year).

EA Refuses $150m FIFA Licensing Deal

The two companies first collaborated on the original FIFA game, which was released back in 1993 and the game has been an annual release ever since then, growing in popularity over a wide variety of consoles over the next 29 years.

However, FIFA’s insistence that EA Sports pay around $150m for the licensing to use the FIFA brand (and its associated competitions such as the FIFA World Cup) have seen EA Sports unwilling to commit that amount of money to license the FIFA name and its competitions.

Instead, EA Sports will push on with the game, but with a new name, EA Sports FC, which will be the title of the new game released in late 2023.

However, the software house faces competition from FIFA who have announced that they plan to create their own alternative to EA Sports FC in the shape of a “number of new non-simulation games” some of which are “already in production.”

“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,” commented FIFA President Gianni Infantino in response to the news.

What Does A Lack Of FIFA Branding Mean For EA Sports FC?

Without the official FIFA license, EA Sports will of course have to change the name of the game as we have outlined above. It also means that FIFA branded competitions, which most notably includes the World Cup, won’t be available as an official competition in the new game.

However, due to their agreements with several other clubs and leagues around the world, as well as organisations such as UEFA and Player Associations, it will mean that EA Sports FC will still include most, if not all, of the domestic and international club competitions that are not arranged by FIFA.

And perhaps most importantly, the ability to use real team names and real players.

Many clubs and leagues across Europe, as well as UEFA, have already Tweeted their support of the new EA Sports FC title, remaining in alliance with the original EA Sports game.

CEO of EA Sports Andrew Wilson commented:

“We’re thankful for our many years of great partnership with FIFA. The future of global football is very bright, and fandom around the world has never been stronger.”

Wilson also said the new game would allow for “even more innovative and authentic experiences to the growing football audience” and that it will create “new, interactive experiences to fans across the globe.”

A Warning From History For FIFA – A Game Is More Than A Name

FIFA’s assumption that its name being synonymous with the best football computer game will mean it will attract many fans of the EA Game away from EA Sports FC to its new titles, may well be an obvious move.

But it is also one that is fraught with danger and potential great expense for the organization.

There is a clear example of this from history, in the sphere of soccer games, where a change of name and a brand-new alternative have seen the demise of one in a very short space of time.

That happened in the mid-2000s when the hugely popular soccer management game Championship Manager and the team that produced it, Sports interactive, split from their publisher Eidos.

Eidos retained the naming rights to Championship Manager and quickly announced the development of a new game using the same name.

Sports Interactive retained the actual programming, database and everything else needed to continue the game that was known as Championship Manager, but which would be called Football Manager going forward.

Eidos banked on the fact that the Championship Manager name would be enough for it to compete against SI’s established game with a new title.

They were utterly wrong.

Championship Manager lasted just one release before Eidos stopped working on the next game. The game was a weak, poor imitation of Football Manager and fans who tried out both games almost universally preferred Football Manager.

Football Manager has gone from strength to strength and is released annually and has broken world records for release day sales several times.

It is a lesson from history that FIFA would do well to learn from.

 

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