It appears that FIFA, the governing body of football, has lost interest in its long-term relationship with EA Sports.
The breakup between EA and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, aka FIFA, could have significant ramifications for both the video game and soccer industries. Perhaps EA will eventually release a game called EA Sports FC, even though it is not yet clear when that new soccer title would come out.
This debate comes at a time when there is already disruption in the football simulation market. Last month, Konami released eFootball, a free-to-play, continuously updated game that replaces its annual Pro Evolution Soccer franchise. All-new UFL from Strikerz Inc. will be another title to watch.
So what happens next? And when will we see a new FIFA? Here’s everything we know so far about the end of the relationship between EA Sports and FIFA, as well as what it means for the future of football games.
FIFA and EA Sports’ partnership could be coming to an end
The news first broke in a report by ESPN, which said that FIFA is “exploring other options” and could potentially end its long-term relationship with EA Sports.
The response from EA Sports was swift and concise, with the company saying it is “disappointed” but “respects the decision”, adding that it will “remain the exclusive rights holder to produce football games, including the FIFA franchise, for all platforms, including the PlayStation, Xbox and PC platforms, through to 2022”.
FIFA’s statement continued: “We believe we’re in the best position to develop and grow the sport around the world.”
The deal would see the end of a partnership that began in 1993, and it’s worth noting that EA Sports and FIFA are also involved in separate discussions about media rights which run until 2026.
Could FIFA quit consoles for the first time since FIFA ’96?
The real question is about the future of FIFA. Strikerz recently launched as a new football game on mobile and tablets. Kick-Start set up eFootball.com, the first free-to-play football game on the web, and eFootball Pro is the follow-up for mobile.
FIFA has always been a console exclusive and, with the exception of a failed mobile-only version released in 2008, it has always been a premium product. If it does quit consoles, we could see a seismic shift in the football gaming landscape.
What is interesting, though, is that the ESPN report suggests that there has been a breakdown in negotiations between FIFA and EA over FIFA leaving consoles behind and going in a different direction.
It’s been something of an open secret for some years that FIFA has been eyeing up the possibility of moving to mobile. We’ve seen a number of moves that suggest this is the direction that it is moving in, and the recent announcement of the opening of an office in Seattle has been widely interpreted as an attempt to move into the console-free world of mobile.
We’ll be watching closely to see how these recent developments play out and will update this article if there are any further updates. Make sure to keep checking back with us and we’ll have all the latest updates on FIFA 23 and the potential break-up of EA Sports and FIFA.
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