With the launch of FIFA 22 back in late September it would be a usually safe assumption that this was a time for celebration for EA Sports and FIFA. Another successful launch of one of the world’s biggest sports titles, so what’s there to not be excited about? Well, behind the scenes, the two sides have been in an intense debate over the future of the franchise. All of this came to a head when EA announced that it was considering a name change for the franchise. A later report stated that FIFA was asking for EA to double the amount it’s currently paying to use the FIFA name on the box.
With all of this taking place, another bombshell dropped over the weekend. FIFA is going to end its exclusivity rights with EA and look at providing its name to other developers. EA has long had an exclusivity deal with FIFA and has been using its name on the box of their soccer/football games since the 90s. With the name change rumors, and now this, it seems safe to say that will be ending after the licensing agreement expires in 2022.
Where FIFA and EA have reportedly had the biggest disagreements, besides money, has been in how the future of the franchise should look. While FIFA wants to keep the simulation franchise as exactly that, a simulation franchise, EA reportedly wants to expand the series further with the use of in-game highlights and possibly NFT’s. In FIFA’s statement about their lack of exclusivity for future publishers, one subject came up frequently: eSports.
FIFA will adopt a new commercial positioning in gaming and eSports to ensure that it is best placed to make decisions that benefit all football stakeholders.
FIFA is bullish and excited about the future in gaming and eSports for football, and it is clear that this needs to be a space that is occupied by more than one party controlling all rights.
Technology and mobile companies are now actively competing to be associated with FIFA, its platforms, and global tournaments.
Consequently, FIFA is engaging with various industry players, including developers, investors and analysts, to build out a long-term view of the gaming, eSports and interactive entertainment sector.
It sounds like both companies feel they can do better with a soccer/football simulation game if they are no longer partnered with each other on an exclusive basis. The word exclusive is very important here because it does not necessarily mean the end of the FIFA anything in EA Sports titles. Unless FIFA turns around and signs exclusivity with a different company like Konami or 2K Games, we could still see FIFA branding in some aspects of EA’s future games. It would just no longer be only their’s to use. We might now see FIFA in Pro Evolution Soccer for example, and it may also encourage other companies to develop soccer/football games. This may end up being the best outcome for fans that just want to play good games and don’t care about exclusivity rights.