Don’t expect to be playing FIFA 23 next year, as it looks like the long-running partnership between video game publisher EA Sports and football governing body FIFA has reached a rather bitter end.
FIFA released a strongly worded statement this week which all but confirms that the relationship is over, and the organization appears to be delighted to be single once again. The statement reads: “FIFA is bullish and optimistic about its long-term future in gaming and esports following a comprehensive and strategic assessment of the gaming and interactive entertainment market.”
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FIFA has also appeared to shut the door on any form of reconciliation, saying “it is clear that this needs to be a space that is occupied by more than one party controlling all rights." This is a clear dig at EA Sport’s FIFA video game series having a monopoly on the FIFA name and branding since the 1990s.
If that shot across the bow wasn’t enough, FIFA also gets in one more dig at its former partner by claiming “technology and mobile companies are now actively competing to be associated with FIFA, its platforms, and global tournaments.”
EA isn’t likely to be too devastated over this development. The publisher released its own statement last week saying: “We’re exploring the idea of renaming our global EA Sports football games. This means we’re reviewing our naming rights agreement with FIFA."
According to various reports, EA began exploring the idea of renaming its FIFA video game series after the footballing body demanded more than double what it was previously charging for its license. In response, EA trademarked the alternative name “EA Sports FC” and it seems FIFA saw the writing was on the wall.
The dissolving of this long-standing partnership doesn’t mean that EA will be exiting the soccer gaming market, though. EA licenses official leagues, teams, and players through other agreements, but they will lose access to the FIFA name and in particular the World Cup license. This is significant, as 2022 will be a World Cup year, with the global tournament set to take place in Qatar next winter.
As of 2021, the FIFA video game series has sold more than 325 million copies and has been released annually since 1995. It’s one of the best-selling video game franchises in history and has been a highly lucrative venture for both EA and FIFA. If the situation isn't resolved amicably — and that certainly looks unlikely — it’s going to be slightly odd not seeing FIFA 23 on next year’s release calendar.
In the meantime, you can enjoy the latest, and possibly last entry in the franchise, which we described in our FIFA 22 review as "the best the series has ever been."