FIFA’s partnership with EA to produce one of the world’s most popular, iconic video game franchises is officially over. Welcome to the EA Sports FC era.
The world’s most famous and lucrative sports video game will never be the same.
EA Sports and FIFA are ending a licensing relationship that began in 1993, as noted by The New York Times, with next year’s women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand serving as the end of an iconic era in both soccer and gaming. The new title at that time will be known as EA Sports FC, a change for its 150 million players around the world that generates billions in revenue for the company, upwards of $20 billion over the last two decades alone.
EA’s Ultimate Team mode drove $1.623 billion in revenue in fiscal year 2021, accounting for 29% of overall revenue, per its annual filing last June. Though Ultimate Team Mode is also available in its Madden and NHL titles, “a substantial portion” of that revenue came from FIFA.
As Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters on the occasion:
“EA Sports is a long-term and valued partner of the Premier League. and we look forward to continuing to work together in the new era of EA Sports FC.”
A divorce between the two parties was rumored back in October, and the new report indicates that FIFA was asking EA for more than $300 million a year for the licenses. FIFA also reportedly wanted the ability to attach its brand name to other digital products and video games, diluting the exclusivity EA likely cherished and regarded as essential — but EA Sports has separate licensing deals with England’s Premier League, the UEFA Champions League, and dozens of other domestic competitions, meaning you’ll still likely be able to play with your favorite players and leagues in EA Sports FC. But there will ultimately be some leagues, teams, and players who will likely be under separate names now, and players around the world will have to get used to that over time.
Added UEFA Director of Marketing Guy-Laurent Epstein:
“With a shared commitment to serve football fans around the world, we look forward to our continued partnership with EA Sports FC to provide players with authentic in-game experiences featuring the club competitions they love.”
It’s unknown where FIFA will go next for a new video game contract — one that currently earns them nine figures in licensing revenue every year. For right now, soccer’s world governing body is focusing on the men’s World Cup this November in Qatar, with an uncertain future for not just FIFA, but EA moving forward.