Starting in 2023, Electronic Arts’ soccer games will no longer use the FIFA license. The deal was originally started in 1993. In 2013, the license was extended until the end of 2022. Starting with the July 2023 release, new soccer (football) games will be called EA SPORTS FC.
This news comes as no surprise. Last October EA had commented on a possible name change in a press release saying they were reviewing the naming rights agreement with FIFA. As EA notes in its latest announcement they still have separate licenses with over 19,000 players, 700 teams, 100 stadiums and 30 leagues.
FIFA has been EA’s biggest and most consistent franchise. Last year, when EA announced an extension with the UEFA (the governing body for soccer in Europe) they stated that FIFA games had sold over 325 million units. However, the full game sales are only one part of the story. The EA Ultimate Team mode provides live services for EA sports titles and now generates more revenue than full-game sales.
Of course, FIFA games are a huge part of EA’s overall success and any downturn would have a significant negative impact on the company’s outlook. Overall DFC forecasts that the new EA SPORTS FC will continue to grow just fine without the FIFA license.
The main deal with FIFA has been the World Cup which is held every 4 years. EA will have the rights through the 2022 World Cup. It will not be until the 2026 World Cup that losing the license could be a major issue. It will be interesting to see what other competitors pop up between now and then. Will Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer franchise make a comeback? Will Take-Two look to add soccer to its sports game mix?
However, right now EA has a lock on video games for the sport. The bottom line is it will be hard and take time for new competition to crack the market.