EA states reasons behind its rift with FIFA over issues of contract expiry

EA's CEO claims the brand is nothing more than just four letters on a box!

Back in November 2021, EA CEO Andrew Wilson reportedly addressed his workers that the FIFA license was an impediment to EA’s plans for football games. According to sources familiar with the discussion, Wilson informed colleagues in an internal meeting, according to individuals familiar with the exchange, that FIFA (the organization) has prevented EA from extending FIFA (the games) into various modes beyond the basic 11 vs. 11 format or “broader digital ecosystems.”

EA seriously considering renaming FIFA and going with their own exclusive IP

Sports games have dominated the gaming industry for years. Games like Madden, NBA Live, and FIFA, with Electronic Arts’ soccer-centric series being one of the most popular among them, frequently make their way onto the year’s best sellers list and generate millions of dollars in sales.

The annual versions of FIFA (most recently FIFA 22) spanning consoles and computers, as well as the special mobile game FIFA MOBILE, are all cherished by FIFA enthusiasts throughout the world. When asked why EA was considering parting up with FIFA, Wilson allegedly stated,

We’ve had a great relationship with FIFA over the past 30-odd years. We’ve created billions in value… it’s just huge. We’ve created one of the biggest entertainment properties on the planet. I would argue – and this may be a little biased – that the FIFA brand has more meaning as a video game than it does a governing body of soccer. We don’t take that for granted and we try not to be arrogant. We’ve worked really hard to try and make FIFA understand what we need for the future.

Andrew Wilson, EA CEO

It’s the latest chapter in EA’s long-running conflict with FIFA, which recently saw FIFA attempt to threaten EA’s stranglehold on football games. In October 2021, the organization issued a statement declaring itself “bullish” on “the future of gaming and esports.” Similarly, the comment appeared to criticize EA’s dominance of the football video game industry, which far outperformed its lone rival, Pro Evolution Soccer (currently eFootball). FIFA is said to seek to charge EA upwards of $1 billion each year for the FIFA brand’s rights.

FIFA 23 might be the final game in the series with the official branding

FIFA presently has a 10-year naming license contract with EA, but it may not be renewed after this year’s World Cup in Qatar, making FIFA 23 the final EA Sports football game to have FIFA branding. Wilson reportedly says, “Our players tell us they want more cultural and commercial brands relevant to them in their markets, more deeply embedded in the game… brands like Nike. But because FIFA has a relationship with Adidas, we are not able to do that,”. He further adds, “Our players tell us they want more modes of play, different things beyond 11v11 and different types of gameplay. I would tell you, it’s been a fight to get FIFA to acknowledge the types of things that we want to create because they say our licence only covers certain categories.”

From his comments, its clear that EA’s ability to respond swiftly to user needs and introduce new features or content, is being hampered by FIFA.

“Our players are telling us they want us to move really quick: ‘we want you guys doing stuff fast’. And in order to do that, we need a level of freedom to be truly creative, innovative, and experiment in the marketplace,”

Andrew Wilson, EA CEO

He finally added that EA wants to be “good partners” with FIFA, but “I wouldn’t be surprised if we ultimately move in a different direction.” Ties haven’t been officially broken yet, but the firm hinted that even if they choose to quit FIFA, they wouldn’t necessarily abandon their other player, league, or stadium licenses. On the other hand, FIFA has also reportedly said that they are willing to collaborate with new game developers.

For these two groups, it appears like the writing is on the wall, but only time will tell. The game picked Kylian Mbappé as its cover boy for the second consecutive year. The decision will directly affect the game across all platforms including FIFA Mobile, the mobile version of FIFA.

What are your thoughts on EA considering renaming its IP FIFA amidst license and contract expiry issues? Do tell us in the comments below!

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