FIFA and EA Sports have had a lucrative relationship that dates back to 1994. The partnership spawned thirty popular video games during that period. Many of these games reached the pinnacle of the sports gaming world and often were rated as some of the most popular video games of the year. The audience, and revenue, for the game series, was massive and now all of that looks like it is about to change.
FIFA and EA Sports are at odds over a new licensing deal that would continue to grant EA the rights to use the name FIFA for their mainline soccer franchise. According to reports, FIFA wanted $250 million per year from EA in exchange for the license. That is a lot of money. Too much money, it seems, for EA who backed away from the deal. The move puts two of the world's biggest names at odds over the future of the franchise.
In response, FIFA has said that it is "bullish" about its gaming prospects moving forward but that the gaming industry needs more parties involved than simply EA Sports. This has opened speculation that FIFA is going to find a new publishing partner for its massive brand or that they could potentially open their own game studio and self-publish.
EA Sports has scrambled to secure the future of its popular gaming franchise by trademarking the name "EA Sports FC" a move that likely spells out the future of the games. The move would drop the FIFA namesake from the title but continue to move forward with existing licensing deals.
EA Sports has to negotiate deals with individual leagues and agents to secure the rights of logos, likenesses, names, stadiums, clubs, and more. At this time, it appears that EA Sports still maintains the rights to a large number of the players and teams that appear in-game. That should soften the blow for avid fans of the FIFA games who are used to seeing their favorite clubs on the screen.
As for FIFA, there are no likely suitors for the brand after their split from EA Sports. The sports gaming market shrank in recent years leaving the market bereft of large studios with the capital, or willpower, to dive into such a large undertaking.
The move took many by surprise. FIFA 22, the latest game in the popular franchise, launched on October 1st to great fanfare. It might end up being the last game in the series.