The FIFA series is a venerable gaming institution. It stretches all the way back to 1993, when the original FIFA International Soccer was released. Today, FIFA is inarguably the most popular football game around. While pretenders to the throne keep rising up, FIFA swats them back down, remaining comfortable and seeing off any challenges that come its way. It’s fair to say that if you’re a football fan and you’re a gamer as well, you’ve almost certainly got a copy of the latest FIFA game on your shelf (or in your digital library).
Those days, however, might be numbered. EA recently announced that after almost thirty years, it will ditch the FIFA license and go solo, renaming its franchise and ending its partnership with FIFA. On the surface, this announcement can seem a little confusing. What will FIFA be called now? What is this EA Sports FC you keep hearing about? We’re here to demystify this process. Here’s our rundown on what happens to FIFA now, what EA Sports FC is, and what this all means for the beautiful game of the beautiful game.
So, EA is splitting from FIFA?
That’s right. EA’s partnership with FIFA – the organisation, that is, not the name (although the name will also no longer be used) – is over. EA has announced that it will no longer be partnering with FIFA for its football sims, instead choosing to strike out on its own. There’s a good reason for this (at least, as far as EA and FIFA are concerned), but for your purposes, FIFA as a franchise will either cease to exist or will be irrevocably changed. However, if you’re a big FIFA fan, all is not lost.
What is EA Sports FC?
Thankfully, EA won’t stop making FIFA games; they’ll just have a different name from now on. EA Sports FC is the new name for EA’s football franchise, and it will come into effect from next year. The company says that it will continue to include all of the modes, options, and teams that it currently has in FIFA, so you’re unlikely to notice a massive practical difference between FIFA and EA Sports FC beyond branding. Make no mistake; EA will try to keep EA Sports FC as similar to FIFA as possible so as not to lose players.
Will FIFA make its own games?
For its own part, FIFA has confirmed that it intends to reach out to other developers and publishers in order to continue the FIFA legacy. FIFA president Gianni Infantino says that the FIFA name indicates “the best” football game available to gamers, and so when future FIFA games are released – whether they’re the upcoming FIFA 23 that’s due out later this year and developed by EA or whether they’re new games by new studios – they will represent “the only authentic, real game” that you can play. Ouch. Shots fired, EA. We’re waiting for you to respond now.
Why has EA split with FIFA?
The split between EA and FIFA has been brewing for quite some time. Back in October 2021, reports emerged that negotiations for licensing and exclusivity were growing tense between EA and FIFA, with FIFA allegedly asking for much more money to give EA exclusive rights to its naming and branding. Supposedly, EA head honcho Andrew Wilson said that the FIFA branding only brings “four letters on the front of the box” and doesn’t actually add anything to the game, so it makes sense that EA wanted to split from FIFA and go it alone.
Are there any meaningful rivals to EA Sports FC?
While EA Sports FC might struggle to attract and retain players at first owing to a change in branding, there’s unlikely to be any meaningful rival making a play for its crown. The closest possible pretender to EA Sports FC’s throne is Konami’s eFootball franchise, formerly known as Pro Evolution Soccer. However, the most recent eFootball game was so disastrously received that Konami is likely to reconsider whether it actually wants to compete against EA at all in this regard, so it could well be that EA Sports FC’s reign continues unabated.
More meaningful competition, however, could well come from whichever studio FIFA chooses to work with. There are almost certain to be companies chomping at the bit to challenge FIFA, especially given that the series’ reputation has arguably been in decline for some time owing to what many fans consider to be predatory microtransactions and aggressive monetisation. There are rumours that 2K is making a Lego-themed football game, for instance, and while that’s unlikely to topple EA Sports FC, it does show that 2K, a venerated sports game developer, is interested in this area, so FIFA could choose to partner with it. We’ll have to wait and see.
How many more FIFA games will there be?
As FIFA head Gianni Infantino has confirmed, there will be more numbered FIFA instalments, but if you’re talking about the FIFA franchise as you currently know it, then there’s one more due. FIFA 23 is due out later this year, and it’s reportedly been made under a limited license, so it might not be quite as expansively branded as previous FIFA games have been. After that, it’s EA Sports FC all the way; at the end of 2023, we’re going to see the very first EA Sports FC game, and future EA football games will continue indefinitely with that branding, it seems.