EA has confirmed that its long-running partnership with football governing body FIFA is officially over. As a result, the publisher’s flagship soccer game, known simply as FIFA, will be rebranded as EA Sports FC starting in 2023.
This breakup definitely hasn't come out of the blue. In October last year, both EA and FIFA released separate statements not-so-subtly suggesting they wanted to dissolve the partnership. Any chance of reconciliation now appears to be over. Earlier today (May 10), EA Sports posted on social media that its annual soccer game would be rebranded as EA Sports FC in 2023 and beyond.
Join The ClubLearn more July 2023#EASPORTSFCMore details: https://t.co/3fi6YPOH2G pic.twitter.com/75FLzjOapNMay 10, 2022
“Our vision for EA SPORTS FC is to create the largest and most impactful football club in the world, at the epicenter of football fandom,” said EA’s CEO Andrew Wilson. “For nearly 30 years, we’ve been building the world’s biggest football community - with hundreds of millions of players, thousands of athlete partners, and hundreds of leagues, federations, and teams. EA SPORTS FC will be the club for every one of them, and for football fans everywhere.”
A further statement from EA Sports General Manager, Cam Weber, reads: “Everything you love about our games will be part of EA SPORTS FC — the same great experiences, modes, leagues, tournaments, clubs and athletes will be there.
“Ultimate Team, Career Mode, Pro Clubs and VOLTA Football will all be there. Our unique licensing portfolio of more than 19,000+ players, 700+ teams, 100+ stadiums and 30 leagues that we’ve continued to invest in for decades will still be there, uniquely in EA Sports FC. That includes exclusive partnerships with the Premier League, LaLiga, Bundesliga, Serie A, the MLS — and more to come.”
EA seems bullish about the move, and the above statements would indicate that the publisher believes it brought more to the table than FIFA did. The partnership reportedly broke down after FIFA wanted larger licensing payments, but that remains unconfirmed.
Under the new name, EA Sports FC will still retain relationships with more than 300 partners, including all of Europe’s major leagues. In fact, the announcement post on EA’s website includes quotes from partners such as the Premier League, LaLiga, Bundesliga and UEFA. This definitely feels like EA attempting to demonstrate just how little losing FIFA will impact its soccer games on the whole.
Of course, that’s not to say that FIFA didn't hold any valuable cards. The controversial footballing body controls the branding for the biggest sporting event on the globe: The World Cup. While in the past, EA Sports developed World Cup games as separate products, the last tournament came in a free update for FIFA 2018. Furthermore, due to the partnership not ending until next year, FIFA 23 will include the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
EA soccer games have been under the FIFA brand since 1993’s FIFA International Soccer. However, FIFA 23, which is scheduled to launch later this fall, will be the last EA soccer game to sport FIFA branding. It will truly be the end of an era.
Looking ahead, EA is clearly banking on passionate FIFA players to pick up EA Sports FC instead, whereas FIFA has already indicated it will seek out alternative development partners to produce rival soccer games of its own. But as the disastrous launch of eFootball 2022 proved, that’s no easy task.