Following reports of EA splitting from long-time partner FIFA, CEO Andrew Wilson has made a series of comments disavowing the soccer organization.
Major video games publisher EA feels that the FIFA license has been holding its soccer games back, according to recent comments from CEO Andrew Wilson. Wilson’s comments follow several stories reporting that the publisher would be parting ways with FIFA and developing sports games under its own trademark.
In the world of sports simulation games, there are few franchises that are more successful, more well-known, than FIFA. The best-selling series of soccer games have been produced and published by EA for decades, with their annual releases becoming staples in yearly video game coverage. While the franchise has its competitors in Konami’s eFootball and UFL, the FIFA name is nearly synonymous with soccer games and modern sports games as a whole. The FIFA trademark has allowed EA to utilize branding and marketing rights for its releases, and many would argue that this instantly recognizable brand is part of why EA has cornered the soccer video game market. Eyebrows started to get raised regarding the relationship of these two groups last year when EA silently filed a trademark for EA Sports FC – a clear signal that the company would be moving on from the FIFA naming scheme.
In a series of telling remarks, EA CEO Andrew Wilson told staff members in an internal meeting his opinions when it came to the value of the FIFA brand. As reported by Video Games Chronicle, Wilson made it clear that the FIFA title was little more than “four letters on a box” as far as its benefit to the company and its products. Wilson would go on to state that the world governing body of soccer was holding the company back when it came to both branding rights (FIFA has an exclusive deal with Adidas, for instance) and providing regular, speedy updates. Since the rights for players, teams, and stadiums are handled separately, Wilson ultimately argues that EA would be better served by unshackling itself from FIFA.
EA’s sports games make ludicrous profits from microtransactions and loot box systems. This fact is not directly acknowledged by Wilson in this meeting, so his statements can be difficult to parse; while he is ostensibly arguing that the company wants to provide more rapid updates and have more freedom overall, it seems unlikely that the company’s number-one moneymaking route is not factoring into this decision.
As for how an EA-FIFA split will affect fans of the franchise, it is difficult to say. The most obvious outcome would be two new franchises: one helmed solely by EA and a separate, tandem effort from FIFA and another publisher. If one of these franchises can manage to offer a high-quality product without resorting to rampant microtransactions, it might be able to edge out the other.
Source: Video Games Chronicle
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