The End of FIFA – and Beyond

Written by Alexis



Figure 1 FIFA had become known as a game title as well as a soccer body

When a games title makes around $20 billion over the span of just two decades, anything that causes that profit generation to stop is going to be big news. When the game in question is also linked to the world’s favorite sport, there was always going to be a lot of talk about what happens next.


The news that Electronic Arts (EA) and FIFA were to part ways broke around a year ago and we are just now beginning to enter a new world for the biggest soccer video game franchise. EA’s rather clumsily named EA Sports FC will be released in September, while new titles affiliated with FIFA have yet to see the light of day.


The FIFA game ended up transcending the sport and became a staple of the gaming world, as well as on sports betting sites like Everygame. The Women’s World Cup is the last tournament under the old partnership and we are just beginning to see what is next. But who has come out on top? And who is better set up for the future?


FIFA Dominance in Games Market


FIFA has been a staple of the video games market since the 1993 Sega Mega Drive version. Updated on an annual basis, for years there was a fight with Pro Evolution Soccer, or PES, for soccer dominance. Ultimately it was the exclusive licensing agreements with FIFA (the organization) that won the day.


Many gamers actually preferred the PES title but being able to use actual player names and teams won over the huge soccer fan base. PES eventually became a free-to-play download before disappearing altogether. Now EA and FIFA have split ways, could we see something similar?


FIFA and EA – The Split


As with most acrimonious splits, it was all down to money. FIFA – the soccer federation – had seen the opportunity to make a lot of money from other projects and decided to increase the amount demanded of EA to use its name for the game. But it seems as though the sports body grossly overestimated its importance in the deal.


To be fair, the partnership was one that worked really well for both sides. EA could use real names to add credence to what was already a very playable game, while FIFA received the money and cultural weight of its name being known as part of a cultural phenomenon. Now the two sides will need to see just how loyal their own fans are.


FIFA Sponsorship Woes


With FIFA making its money from organizing international tournaments – and collecting the huge amount of money in sponsorship of those events – even the billions made from the video game was essentially a side hustle. But it was very important culturally, attracting a previously non-sporting audience for one, and its demise is just one of the organization’s problems.


FIFA is known for making a series of public relations blunders. At the same time, it is not known for being the most self-aware organization in the world, with its president, Gianni Infantino, regularly making matters worse with his public appearances. Important sponsors were already looking for discount deals after the last men’s World Cup was controversially awarded to Qatar. Now those calls have intensified.


New EA Game


So, what is the situation now? Well, the new EA Sports FC game will be released towards the end of September. This was always the time that the latest FIFA title went on the market, so it will be interesting to see if the demand is the same. There will be no FIFA involvement now, but very little else will be noticeable.


EA still have a whole host of licensing deals with other big leagues and tournaments, such as the English Premier League, so the realism factor will hardly be diminished. The gameplay will be just as good – if not improved – as this is a title that has been in constant development for 20 years now.


The Future of FIFA Games


FIFA, on the other hand, may be in a bit more trouble. Gianni Infantino originally stated that FIFA will always be associated with the best soccer video games as it was the best and most important soccer organization in the world. But this should be read as another grandiose proclamation.


It doesn’t seem as if we will see a FIFA 24 this year, so EA will have no direct competition. None of the blockchain technology links forged by FIFA have come to anything, and developing a new studio will take time. FIFA may well eventually produce something to rival EA – but it won’t be for a while yet.

Figure 2 Will the fans stick with FIFA or prefer EA?

Esports and Betting


FIFA’s separation from something so culturally and financially important as the EA game could not have come at a worse possible time. Not only is the FIFA World Cup scheduled to take place in the US in 2026, there has also been a huge increase in the money bet on esports in recent years.


The FIFA game is part of the esports betting phenomenon and although the soccer body wouldn’t have made money directly from betting, there would have surely been some potential for further sponsorship links. The World Cup will still happen – but will a FIFA game be popular enough to attract big money?


The Winner? EA


There is no doubt that EA has come out of this divorce with the best settlement. There have been some errors recently relating to the popular – and quite profitable – FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) game mode. But if these can be sorted out before FIFA releases its own game, they will largely be forgotten.


In the end, FIFA overestimated its importance and will now need to play catch-up. It had somewhat fortuitously found itself as part of a gaming sensation and will now need to start again to even become part of the conversation. We will know more when EA Sports FC starts getting its first reviews. But for now, EA is definitely the winner. 


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