Electronic Arts is considering removing the FIFA name from its football (soccer, for the Americans) video games, the publisher has announced, meaning we may not see a FIFA 23. The move comes as something of a shock considering EA has published FIFA games annually for nearly three decades now.
Hot on the heels of the launch of this year’s title, FIFA 22, which took place on October 1st, EA published a blog post pondering the future of the series. The company says that its goal is to build an authentic experience, and that its licensing partners are important in making that happen. Through these partnerships, real-life competitions like the UEFA Champions League and hundreds of teams are available to play in the game. Cam Weber, General Manager of the EA Sports group, said:
The breadth of our partnerships and our ecosystem of licensed content will enable us to continue to bring unrivaled authenticity in our EA SPORTS football games, now and for many years to come.
However, for some reason, the FIFA name may not be part of the core licenses that EA considers essential to the player experience. As much as it may be a shock, the decision may actually make some sense from EA’s perspective. First off, as the company points out, the FIFA license is separate from all the other licensed content in the game. So, even without the FIFA name, you’d technically be able to play as your favorite teams and with your favorite players.
In fact, dropping the FIFA name could (in theory) mean that EA has more funds available to negotiate licensing for individual leagues, teams, or players. The company talks about investing in the licenses that are “most meaningful” to its players, and truth be told, the name on the title probably makes little difference once you’ve bought the game. However, the FIFA brand is incredibly recognizable, and one has to wonder if removing it from the title would have a negative impact on the games’ sales.
It’s also possible that EA feels a lot less pressure to keep the FIFA brand in the name of its games now, seeing as it’s virtually without competition. The major rival to the FIFA games, Pro Evolution Soccer, has been on the decline for years, and this year, publisher Konami dropped the name in favor of a new eFootball game that instantly became notorious for being the worst-rated video game ever on Steam. Even if it’s not called FIFA 23, EA’s next sports game might still be just fine, as there are other focus areas beyond the mere name to worry about.
It’s still early to say whether the FIFA branding will be dropped from EA’s football games, but the fact that the company is so explicitly looking to make changes is certainly telling. We’ll have to wait until the company shares more information about next year’s iteration of the sports title.