Is gaming giant’s break with FIFA an indication of changing times?

By our News Team | 2022

The growth of in-game branding and marketing, and the requirements of the rapidly unfolding metaverse, may be changing the game – quite literally.

Eyebrows are being raised among sports marketers and marketers focused on the gaming industry following the announcement that video games publisher Electronic Arts (commonly known as EA Sports) is going to stop making FIFA-branded soccer games.

These games – the best-known being FIFA 2022, FIFA 2021 etc – have proved hugely popular with consumers and used EA Sport’s approved status with world soccer’s governing body to develop games that recreate the world’s major clubs and football competitions down to the finest detail.

EA Sports made the first FIFA-branded game in 1993 and has been in control of the franchise ever since.

In-Game Marketing

Gamers at the launch of the FIFA20 video game during the Gamescom trade fair in Germany. Photo credit: Dronepicr via Wikimedia Commons

The decision by the company appears to be down to several factors, but may be an indicator of how sports franchising, growing in-game branding and marketing, and the requirements of the rapidly unfolding metaverse may be changing the game – quite literally.

Time is right to move in a new direction

According to media reports, one of the stumbling blocks between EA Sports and FIFA is that FIFA is demanding a franchise fee of more than US$1-billion for the next four-year agreement cycle. But EA Sports seems to feel that the time is right, anyway, to move in a different direction because of the way gaming is evolving.

 “The world of football and the world of entertainment are changing, and they clash within our product,” David Jackson, Vice President at EA Sports, is quoted as saying by the BBC.

“In the future our players will demand of us the ability to be more expansive in that offering. At the moment, we engage in play as a primary form of interactive experience. Soon, watching and creating content are going to be equally as important for fans.

“Under the licensing conventions that we had agreed with FIFA 10 years ago, there were some restrictions that weren’t going to allow us to be able to build those experiences for [game] players.”

Jackson said the financial demands of FIFA were an element of the decision, but not the only factor. 

“On balance, over time, we felt that our investments were better suited in spaces that were most important to players, like the different experiences we can now build in the game. For our partners, it’s the way we can welcome and engage them into a platform that talks to 150-million young football fans around the world,” he told the BBC.