FIFA Franchise And EA Partnership Under Threat

One of the biggest global sellers is from EA is the iconic football series FIFA. The most recent release was last year in FIFA 22 which debuted the HyperMotion technology for the newer hardware. Rumors also circulated that EA was going to follow the route Konami took and make FIFA 23 free to play. Konami took their iconic Pro Evolution Soccer franchise and made it free to play and it got renamed. So goodbye PES, hello eFootball. Fans saw this and even after its disastrous launch slammed the game. But would the FIFA franchise follow suit?

VideoGamesChronicle has just posted news regarding the FIFA franchise. And it could mean huge changes to the franchise. It appears according to VGC that Andrew Wilson the CEO of EA has spoken about the franchise and where he feels the franchise is heading and what he’s said is pretty big news that would shake the series up.

What has happened regarding the FIFA franchise

He seemingly told staff in November last year that the actual FIFA license is an impediment to the future of the series. Now for many, this means little, but for football fans and fans of the series, it’s pretty big. The original game launched on the Sega Megadrive/Genesis way back in December 1993. Back then it was mainly known as FIFA International Soccer. And personally, I find this news huge. I have owned every single installment going back to the 1993 debut and the sport is a huge part of my life.

VGC states they have sources familiar with the topic that an internal meeting had staff told from Wilson that FIFA wouldn’t allow EA to add any other mode other than 11v11 or “broader digital ecosystems”. If we look at the other modes, there’s the Masters Football. This is a 6v6 match similar to a five-a-side where ex-professional players compete. In the UK for example it’s an extremely popular tournament. There is also the 5v5 mode, which hasn’t seen a designated individual release since FIFA Street in 2012. It was also said the only value they got from the organization in a non-World Cup year was “four letters on the front of the box”.

What he said about footballs governing body

Andrew Wilson was asked why EA was thinking about ending this partnership and he responded by saying the following

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.

The long running feud. What went before

This isn’t the only time the two went head to head. This has been a long-running feud between them both. FIFA has challenged EA in what they believed was a monopoly of the sport. And this was around the time FIFA 22 launched calling EA bullish among other things. However that’s not all, they are reportedly wanting a minimum of $1 billion per year from EA to have rights to use the FIFA franchise.

What about any breach of contract?

The current deal is a 10-year deal, but it can expire this year without renewal and that could come into effect after the Qatar World Cup this winter. Therefore this means that this year’s release which could be FIFA 23 would be the last football game by EA Sports with the rights to the official FIFA license. Something it’s held as we know since 1993. Meaning this potent change is major news

The professional players. They have a say as well

Wilson also added the professional players have had their say. And because of FIFA, EA can’t incorporate what the players want.

On the subject of players’ wishes, he reportedly had this to add.

Our players tell us they want more cultural and commercial brands relevant to them in their markets, more deeply embedded in the game… brands like Nike. But because FIFA has a relationship with Adidas, we are not able to do that. Our players tell us they want more modes of play, different things beyond 11v11 and different types of gameplay. I would tell you, it’s been a fight to get FIFA to acknowledge the types of things that we want to create, because they say our licence only covers certain categories.

How gamers feel

Not only that buy gamers themselves, the people who pay the money that can end up in the pocket of FIFA are also suffering because of FIFA. Again Wilson had something to say on the matter.

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

Andrew Wilson closed up saying he wants EA and FIFA to be “good partners” but said he wouldn’t be surprised if EA “ultimately move in a different direction”. So there is potentially huge news in one of the biggest selling gaming franchises.

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