FIFA’s partnership with EA Sports is likely to come to an end due to disagreements over video game name rights
Since 1993, FIFA has licenced its name to the American game firm.
One of the longest and most popular alliances in gaming history may come to an end, as FIFA has signalled that it may cancel its relationship with Electronic Arts, the producers of the yearly EA Sports FIFA video game.
Since 1993, FIFA has licenced its name to the American corporation, and the game has grown to become one of the best-selling video game brands of all time. The FIFA series sold over 325 million copies by 2021.
FIFA may now discontinue that partnership as it prepares to enter the fast developing eSports business on its own.
The existing 10-year arrangement, for which EA pays approximately $150 million per year, expires with the Qatar World Cup next year.
“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,” according to a FIFA.com statement.
“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.”
According to the statement, it is “crucial importance” for FIFA and its stakeholders to maximise all future potential for football and gaming enthusiasts, as eSports is the world’s fastest growing media vertical.
The men’s and women’s World Cups are expected to serve as platforms for the organisation to promote new initiatives.
For the past two years, the two sides have been in contract renewal talks, with rumours claiming that FIFA is requesting more than double what it earns from EA Sports. According to the New York Times, FIFA wants more than $1 billion for each four-year World Cup cycle.
Aside from the financial dispute, negotiations had come to a halt since FIFA and EA couldn’t agree on what the exclusive rights should entail. EA wants exclusive rights to new projects, such as game highlights and digital products such as NFTs.
The two are set to formally announce their breakup by the end of the year, and they are both preparing for life beyond their historic romance.
FIFA has stated that it 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”.
Earlier in October, EA registered two trademarks for the phrase EA Sports FC in the EU and the United Kingdom.
The separation is expected to pit the companies against each other in the rapidly expanding gaming industry. EA is a juggernaut in the football gaming industry, having licencing deals with over 300 organisations including UEFA, the English Premier League, La Liga, and numerous domestic championships across the world.
Given that EA Sports FIFA’s long-time opponent, Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer, is no longer regarded a contender following the botched rebranding as eFootball, the two rebranded versions of the game might become the main competitors in the football gaming market.