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End of an era: EA has announced that FIFA 23 will be their last soccer simulation game to carry the name of the sport's global governing body. Next year's title will be under a new name EA trademarked last year "EA Sports FC." The change will let EA "add more" to its soccer titles, but it did not mention specifics. Meanwhile, FIFA has fired back with its plans, which threaten to change the landscape of soccer video games.
Months after EA suggested it could change the name of its iconic game series in a spat with FIFA, it's now official.
Despite dropping the FIFA name, the publisher maintains deals with many other soccer leagues, teams, players, and brands, including the Premier League, LaLiga, Bundesliga, Serie A, and the MLS. The company promises its future games will retain all the content and modes from recent FIFA releases, except for World Cup content every four years.
Last October, EA CEO Andrew Wilson said that FIFA licensing limited what its developers could put in its games. He said it wouldn't allow game modes beyond 11v11, for example, or a licensing deal with Nike. To that end, the announcement mentions that EA struck up a new partnership with Nike. The publisher indicated in a BBC interview that, free of FIFA's licensing restrictions, EA Sports FC could offer more branded in-game content, hold live in-game events, and stream real matches.
Money also likely played a role in the breakup. Reports indicate that FIFA wanted over $1 billion from EA every four years.
In response to EA's announcement, FIFA promised more FIFA-branded products from other game companies. The organization said that its contract with EA ending in 2022 only covers simulation games and that it has non-simulation titles from other developers planned for this year. The organization also wants to start working with other game publishers for simulation games in 2024.
The president of FIFA maintains that those four letters are the definitive mark of authenticity in soccer games.
"The FIFA name is the only global, original title. FIFA 23, FIFA 24, FIFA 25 and FIFA 26, and so on --the constant is the FIFA name and it will remain forever and remain THE BEST," said president Gianni Infantino.
It is unclear who else could work with FIFA to compete against EA. The only other major soccer simulator for PC and consoles is Konami's eFootball, and its most recent entry is trying to recover from a catastrophic launch.
We should hear more details on EA Sports FC next year.