EA Says FIFA is Holding Back its Football Video Game Series

"Wilson doesn't think the license will be renewed"

FIFA 22 FIFA 23 EA Games
EA Says FIFA is Holding Back its Football Video Game Series

We know that EA Games will start to distance itself from the FIFA franchise this year as the company looks at new ventures to develop a football video game series. However, it seems that EA feels quite strongly about the FIFA brand and how controlling it has been on the development of past games.

Speaking during a meeting with staff, EA CEO Andrew Wilson was quite frank about the matter saying that he is better off ending the 30-year relationship with FIFA.

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Wilson explains that FIFA has done nothing but hold EA’s ambitions back from growing the game series strength by strength. He says that the FIFA license has been an “impediment” to EA over the course of development.

According to VGC, Wilson claimed that FIFA prevented EA from expanding its games modes beyond the traditional 11v11 gameplay. He continued to reveal that the only value EA got from FIFA each year was the “four letters on the front of the box”.

By the sound of things, FIFA didn’t really come to the party when it came to making these annual game releases. If anything, FIFA demanded more from EA. According to the New York Times, negotiations surrounding the FIFA video game license were put on hold after EA asked for more rights to expand the game series. However, FIFA allegedly demanded EA pay double its payment for the license in order to expand the game. EA would have to fork out $2.5 billion to expand the FIFA license over the next decade.

EA Rebranding FIFA

This would also lock EA into developing more FIFA-branded video games without much room for freedom. EA is currently still in talks with FIFA to continue the video game franchise but time is running out. The licensing deal between EA and FIFA comes to an end this year meaning FIFA 23 could be the final game to include the FIFA brand.

It is reported that EA Games is working on a FIFA 23 game and that it will include two FIFA World Cup tournaments. Both a men’s and women’s event for the first time in the series. While EA is working on a FIFA 23 game, it might be the last entry in the series as the studio looks to move away from the franchise.

FIFA 22 Review

Andrew Wilson believes that ditching the FIFA brand could benefit the developers at EA as well as the players who purchase the football games. He says:

“I’m going to be more open… more open than I’ve been with the outside world,. We’ve had a great relationship with FIFA over the past 30-odd years. We’ve created billions in value… it’s just huge. We’ve created one of the biggest entertainment properties on the planet.

I would argue – and this may be a little biased – that the FIFA brand has more meaning as a video game than it does a governing body of soccer. We don’t take that for granted and we try not to be arrogant. We’ve worked really hard to try and make FIFA understand what we need for the future.

Basically, what we get from FIFA in a non-World Cup year is the four letters on the front of the box, in a world where most people don’t even see the box anymore because they buy the game digitally.

In a World Cup year of course, we get access to the World Cup, but in the broader context of global football on an annualised basis, the World Cup is important but it’s not the most important. We have 300 other licences that give us the content that our players engage with the most and the most deeply.

As we’ve looked to the future we want to grow the franchise, and ironically the FIFA licence has actually been an impediment to that.”

Andrew Wilson continues to reveal that players want more from the franchise. Players want to play different things beyond the 11v11 game modes. Wilson says that he has been fighting for FIFA to acknowledge this. Fighting to get FIFA to let EA make the types of things they want to make. Sadly, the current license only covers certain categories and restricts EA from doing so.

“Our players want us to expand into the digital ecosystem more broadly… our fans are telling us they want us to go and participate in that space.

Our FIFA licence has actually precluded us from doing a lot of this stuff. Again, FIFA is just the name on the box, but they’ve precluded our ability to be able to branch into the areas that players want.

Our players are telling us they want us to move really quick: ‘we want you guys doing stuff fast’. And in order to do that, we need a level of freedom to be truly creative, innovative and experiment in the marketplace.

Because of the nature of the approval timetables and the various things around our FIFA licence, that’s actually been really hard and we’re moving much slower than we want.”

During a meeting with FIFA president Gianna Infantino, Andrew Wilson argued the value worth of the FIFA license saying he refused to pay more for it than its worth. Wilson claimed that money wasn’t the problem instead, it was the inability to create the game fans want to play. While this year’s FIFA 23 game will still carry the license, EA CEO Andrew Wilson isn’t convinced the license deal will be renewed going forward. He says if FIFA and EA can’t come to an agreement it might work out for the best.

“At the end of the day, I don’t know if we’re going to get there. And ironically, if we don’t, and we’re able to rebrand our game and take control of this global football ecosystem that we’re going to build, ironically we’ll probably generate more revenue, and have more fans, and have more engagement over time.

Because we’ll be able to work with more partners, we’ll be able to build more modes of play, we’ll be able to expand more deeply and broadly into the digital ecosystems around the fabric of football, and more than anything we’ll be able to move really, really fast.

We’re going to work through this, we’re going to be thoughtful and we want to be good partners with FIFA, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we ultimately move in a different direction. At the end of the day, I think that might even be better for our gamers than continuing with those four letters on the box.”

Source VGC

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