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In brief: Late last year, it came to light that licensing negotiations between EA and the FIFA organization were breaking down, to the point where EA revealed it was thinking about dropping the FIFA name from its soccer series. Newly leaked internal comments from around that time have shed light on more details.
This week, VGC acquired comments from EA CEO Andrew Wilson during a November internal meeting. During the conference, he went over the disadvantages of continuing to pay FIFA for the right to use the name of the sport's governing body in its soccer franchise. The comments indicate FIFA has been restricting what the games can include in terms of functionality and licensing.
Wilson said FIFA hasn't let EA include modes in the games beyond 11v11, and it won't let EA license the Nike brand due to FIFA's agreement with Adidas. Last year it came out that FIFA also wanted to "wall off" the Ultimate Team feature, which is an effective money-maker for EA. The boss also said they benefit less from the FIFA name in non-World Cup years, amounting to just "four letters on the front of the box."
In October, EA started threatening to end its relationship with FIFA, pointing out the dozens of other leagues it has licensed to include in its games. It also registered a trademark in Europe for the possible name “EA Sports FC.”
This year’s game, FIFA 23, might be the last one with the “FIFA” branding. Its current deal with EA started in 2013 and ends after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Reports indicated the organization wanted to double the licensing fee to over $1 billion every four-year World Cup cycle.