After tearing it up last year, EA Sports seems very determined not to renew the FIFA license for its soccer games, and even blames them for being a creative impediment. Released this year, FIFA 2023 could be EA’s last game bearing the FIFA name… but its soccer games will continue.
For millions of gamers, lThe mental image when hearing the acronym ‘FIFA’ is that of the soccer video gameeven before its true meaning, the International Football Federation.
That is something that, at least, think Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson, which seems determined to abandon the historic FIFA license starting next year. A report of VGC shows the transcript of an internal meeting between Wilson and his employees approaching the subject frankly.
It shows that no decision has been made whether to renew the license or not, but it is clear that Wilson’s intention is to get as far away from FIFA as possibleto which he even blames having compromised the creative freedom of his games.
Now that this inflammatory internal document has been leaked, renewal is even less likely. The main reason for EA’s reluctance not to extend its contract with FIFA is the draconian sum that the football federation demanded from EA, double to be able to continue using the FIFA name.
In October 2021, EA dropped in a statement that they may not continue with the FIFA license once their four-year agreement expires, which will expire after the conclusion of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar (in November 2022).
FIFA responded to this cold war by suggesting that they were not ruling out offering the license to other developers. But EA, and Andrew Wilson in particular, believes that the ability of his studio to make football games recognized and loved by millions of players will weigh more than the name of FIFA.
“I’m going to be more open, more than I have been with the rest of the world.” Wilson said in this meeting with his employees that has been leaked by VGC. “We have had a great relationship with FIFA for the last 30 years, created a value of billions… it’s huge. We have created one of the largest entertainment properties on the planet“.
“I would say – and perhaps I am a little biased – that the FIFA brand has more meaning as a video game than as a football federation. We don’t take it for granted and we try not to be arrogant. We have worked very hard to make FIFA understand what we want“.
“Basically, what FIFA gives us in a year in which there is no World Cup are four letters in the boxin a world where most people won’t even see the checkout because they buy digital“.
Wilson even maintains that FIFA has been an impediment for them: “Ironically, the FIFA license has been an obstacle to growing the franchise“.
The CEO lists things that the players have demanded, such as more relevant brands in the world of sports, such as Nike, which they cannot get due to FIFA’s relationship with Adidas. But he also talks about different game modes that the fans have demanded, beyond the traditional 11v11, which FIFA has not seen favorably.
He also feels that, because of FIFA, they have not been able to be as agile as they would like when it comes to engage with the community in a digital ecosystem (something in which his outstanding student, UFL, stands out, which could be a great rival for EA in the future).
“Due to the nature of the deadlines and other things around the FIFA license, we move much slower than we would like (…) The FIFA license has prevented us from doing many of these things.”
Wilson explains that he has raised these concerns with FIFA, citing money as an issue, but also making clear the lack of creative freedom they feel with FIFA.
Unless the negotiations turn around, everything seems to indicate that EA has already psyched up the idea of losing the FIFA license after 29 yearsand on your balance the pros far outweigh the cons.
In fact, they already anticipated it, and in the middle of the scuffle last year, registered the EA trademark Sports FC, which could be the name of their future football game from 2023.
Regarding the game, the only thing that would really be lost is the FIFA World Cup licensewhich takes place every four years.
EA has more than 300 licenses through FIFPRO, including more than 17,000 athletes in more than 700 teams, 100 stadiums and more than 30 leagues, including the LaLiga Santander, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, CONMEBOL Libertadores, Premier League and Bundesligathe largest in the Americas and Europe.
for now, FIFA 2023 is still onand will be released as usual at the end of this year, which will also include the celebration of the World Cup for both men and women.
Which by the way… everything points to that 2023 will be the first year in a very long time in which there will be neither Call of Duty nor (technically) FIFA. Who would have thought, right?