Beginning all the way back in 1993, the collaboration between developer EA Sports and world football’s governing body, FIFA, is responsible for one of the best-selling franchises in video game history.
Selling tens of millions of copies around the world every year, gamers keenly mark their calendars each autumn in anticipation of the latest FIFA release.
FIFA 22 – this year’s incarnation of the popular football sim – proved no exception when it was made available to the public earlier this month.
However, barring a dramatic turnaround, reports indicate that FIFA 22 will be the final game that the two parties work together on – at least exclusively.
Why have FIFA and EA Sports split?
The existing rights deal between EA Sports and FIFA is due to expire next year – and it’s fair to say that negotiations over an extension to the agreement could have gone better.
Per Barstool Sports, FIFA requested that EA double their rights fees from $500 million to $1 billion in order for them to sign off on a fresh four-year deal – in recognition of the increasing name value of its brand and associated trademarks.
EA refused to entertain that suggestion.
The franchise’s ability to generate revenue has skyrocketed over the last few years through the popularity of its Ultimate Team mode, where players spend actual money to obtain the best footballers on the game.
Understandably, FIFA wants a slice of that income stream, which until now has predominantly gone to EA.
Ultimately, FIFA feels that it can maximise revenue by licensing its assets to more than just one company – and so appears happy to end its exclusive relationship with the developer.
Realising that the writing was on the wall for the partnership with FIFA, EA swiftly trademarked the term ‘EA Sports FC’, perhaps hinting at a future name for their football franchise moving forward.
Will there be any more FIFA games after 2022?
It remains to be seen how FIFA will deal with its video game rights following the expiration of the EA Sports deal after next year’s World Cup.
Such is the brand recognition of the franchise, though, that FIFA will surely put its name to a new game alongside another developer.
Quiz: Can you name these FIFA cover stars?
Given the staggering sums that EA Sports have made over the years from football video games, don’t expect them to go anywhere either. Already with an established game engine in place, EA are hardly in bad shape moving forward.
The landscape of the football video game world is set for a massive shake-up. FIFA as we know it will soon no longer exist. However, the prospect of two fresh games emerging from its ashes to battle for fans’ loyalty is an intriguing one.