Only a few people in football fanbase who haven’t had at least some experience with FIFA games at some point in their lives. The franchise, which since the days of Super Nintendo has introduced how we look at video games and football, is as culturally intertwined with the real-life sport on which it’s based as perhaps any other series. Even real-world players anticipate what their in-game rankings are. Millions of fans are committed to buying the game each year, either as a way to experience the new features it has over the past year with friends, or just dominate and make the most out of its Ultimate Team. Simply put, it’s as mutually beneficial as the partnerships of both the devs and FIFA itself, netting both parties billions annually.
So, with reports emerging over the past days that FIFA is breaking up with EA Sports after three decades of successful partnership, why the heck has their relationship suddenly turned sour? At first glance, it’s almost unbelievable and seems utterly foolish. Simply through licensing, FIFA makes more than $100 million from EA Sports for allowing little more than lending its name to the franchise. What more could they want, huh?
Reason Behind The Split
The answer, as it turned out, is simply to pocket more money. According to the New York Times, FIFA set upped the price to a billion dollars just to allow EA Sports to continue using its name for four more years. That’s nearly double the annual rate FIFA pays right now. This seems brutal, but given the healthy sales of the franchise’ Ultimate Team mode, EA could easily give in if they wanted to.
But they won’t, and from now on they’ll be going their separate ways. Barely a week apart, both parties announce that they’ll start looking to take the future of their games elsewhere. A part of FIFA’s statement mentioned that its World Cup and Women’s Cup will be the planned platforms to launch new games and other esports stuff in the near future.
Meanwhile, EA Sports has started filing for a trademark named EA Sports FC, indicating they’ll going to stick to it once the deal with FIFA expires.
Who Wins The Split? EA Or FIFA?
So, who wins the split? In hindsight, it would appear that EA Sports has a lot more to lose in this sudden break-up, but that’s not the case. FIFA’s licensing deal with EA only covers the rights to use the moniker and competitions it sanctions, meaning EA would only lose the rights to the FIFA name and theoretically, three tournaments – the Club World Cup, World Cup, and Women’s World Cup. EA still has the rights to football teams, leagues, and national associations, meaning it can still realistically depict and preserve the spirit of The Beautiful Game on its terms. And given that the franchise’s excellent reputation in yearly sales and fanbase, opting not to buy in into FIFA’s greed may just turn out to be a shrewd move after all.
FIFA, meanwhile, might struggle to wrestle away control from a franchise they used to share with. So, if all they can think of is a world cup game every few years, well, they could be in for a serious backfire.