Electronic Arts may be dropping the FIFA license for one simple reason: it costs too much

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FIFA is an extraordinarily lucrative license for Electronic Arts. Annual FIFA games are always major sellers, but the real money is in Ultimate Team: EA said in its third quarter fiscal 2011 report that Ultimate Team games (which include NFL and NHL games, but mainly FIFA) in its 2020 fiscal year was approximately $1.5 billion.

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Given the size of that money mountain, it seemed a bit odd that EA would consider ending the relationship, yet it did so in one go. Press release Released last week. “As we look forward, we are also exploring the idea of ​​renaming our global EA Sports football games,” said Cam Weber, general manager of EA Sports Group. “This means we are reviewing our naming rights agreement with FIFA, which is separate from all of our other official partnerships and licenses in the world of football.”

Soon after, it moved to the trademark EA Sports FC in Europe for “computer game software” and “entertainment services”. While EA did not comment on the filing, some fans saw it as writing on the wall: preliminary phase preparations for the imminent, inevitable end of EA’s partnership with FIFA. but why?


According to new York Times, the reason is entirely predictable: money. The report said FIFA wants more than double what it is currently seeking for the licensing rights, which would cost EA more than $1 billion for each four-year cycle between World Cups. FIFA also explicitly wants to put limits on EA’s exclusivity: EA Sports reportedly wants to pursue other FIFA-related monetization options such as actual soccer games, tournaments and NFT highlights, since of course NFTs are included. . FIFA—which by the way stands for Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or International Federation of Association Football—would rather reserve some of those money-making options to itself.

It’s not a done deal yet, but EA is clearly ready for a FIFA-free future. This sounds potentially disastrous, but as the NYT report points out, the absolute dominance of EA’s soccer sub-genre (including dozens of other league licenses) means it could be relatively unscathed by such dramatic rebrandings. EA recently renewed its partnership For example, with the worldwide professional football players association FIFPro, which gives it the right to use “the names and likenesses of thousands of players” in their games. And even if it had to give up its FIFA license, it would still have exclusive rights to the UEFA Champions League, CONMEBOL Libertadores, Premier League, Bundesliga and LaLiga Santander, among others.

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Former EA Sports boss Peter Moore, who left Electronic Arts to lead Liverpool FC in 2017, said EA may also be concerned about where the FIFA license ends if it accepts narrow exclusivity terms. agrees to, which is why it’s willing to walk away from the whole thing instead of sharing.

“I’m going to say, ‘Wait a second: We spent literally hundreds of millions of dollars making this and you’re telling me that Epic Games could come and license the name that we made up and we’re going to have to put up with that. And center and he’s synonymous with the game?'” said Moore. “Then, yes, I’m negotiating and I’m fighting him.”

A decision on the future of EA’s FIFA license is expected by the end of the year.

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