Last week FIFA developer EA shocked fans globally for the first time in years. The huge publisher actually wants to change something up.
But don’t get your hopes up. Those tasty micro-transactions and luscious loot boxes that have us going back time and time again are unlikely to be going anywhere soon. Instead, EA are apparently “exploring the idea of renaming” it’s famous football series. But why might it want to make such a radical change to such a world renown franchise? A new report from the New York Times thinks it knows the answer. The football association want to charge EA “more than double” the current rate to continue sharing the licence.
According to the aforementioned article, the current ten-year agreement between EA and FIFA ends next year in 2022. The negotiations to continue that partnership are ongoing, and scheduled to end this year. But, if you believe the hearsay, “at least two years of talks” are said to have stalled. The two parties are locked in discussions over the finer poiunts of the deal. A key sticking point is the licencing fee paid by EA. FIFA want to increase to “more than $1 billion for each four-year Wold Cup cycle”. It also speculates that this could well be due to the exponential growth of Ultimate Team, which made EA $1.62bn in the 2021 financial year.
FIFA Ultimate Team netted EA a cool $1.62bn over the course of FY2021
But that’s not the only hot item on the negotiating table it seems. The article goes on to proclaim that the companies have failed to agree on what exactly the deal covers. EA, it seems is keen to explore other opportunities the FIFA licence could bring. This could include video game tournaments and digital products, such as NFTs. FIFA, on the other hand, wants to limit the scope of the deal to explore those opportunities on its own.
Although these talks are set to continue for some time, what is clear is that EA are preparing for every eventuality. This clearly includes the possibility of continuing the series without the FIFA licence, a continuing differentiator between it and rival series, such as Pro Evolution Soccer. A recent trademark filing was spotted on the websites of the UK’s Intellectual Property Office and a similar office for the EU. This all points to EA gearing up to move away from FIFA, adopting the supposed title of “EA Sports FC” for future football games.
Whilst the use of FIFA as the title for the series is in doubt, it should be noted that this will not impact the use of player names and likenesses within the game. EA yesterday confirmed that it would indeed be renewing the contract with FIFPRO. This will, in EA’s own words, help it to “deliver the greatest, most authentic football experience”.
“Video games are great. I should know, I’ve played some.”
Olly S, July 2020