FIFA vs EA in the video game race is an unsettling journey into the unknown

TOhen he was re-elected as president of soccer’s governing body FIFA today (March 16), Gianni Infantino discussed plans for the soccer body to continue the FIFA video game franchise, previously developed by Electronic Arts, which had licensed the FIFA rights. – themselves, saying that the information would arrive “very soon” and that FIFA 25, 26 and 27 “will always be the best electronic game for any girl or boy.”

It’s not a total surprise. EA and FIFA had a very public breakup year when both went public with their grievances with the other party. EA claimed fifa he wanted to double the reported licensing fee of $150m (£131m) in exchange for the naming rights and the ability to officially include the World Cup. fifa they remained silent on their reasoning, though they did want a bigger piece of the £1.15b EA drawn from fifa Ultimate Team, based on the publisher’s 2020 earnings, seems like an obvious reason.

The split was a bit like when a couple in your circle of friendship breaks up: the parties criticized each other through the media, before EA finally announced that they would not do another one. fifa after fifa23. Instead, they would be throwing ea sports fca soccer game designed by the fifa team but with EA owning the whole lot. Infantino, speaking on behalf of FIFA at the time, said: “The FIFA name is the only original global title,” adding: “I can assure you that the only real, authentic game that has the FIFA name on it will be the best available. for football players and fans.”

FIFA 23. Credit: EA Sports.
FIFA 23. Credit: EA Sports.

Whether you saw it coming or not, the news that the soccer body will be developing its own titles in the future, effectively continuing EA’s franchise without the involvement of the experienced soccer developer, will have many jaws dropping. While the goal isn’t far-fetched, soccer’s governing body will soon find itself struggling just to find people who can make a AAA soccer title for modern consoles. It is above all a matter of technical prowess.

Soccer games were everywhere in the days of the Sega Mega Drive and later the Sony Playstation. The first FIFA entry dropped in 1993, with everyone trying to capture the joy of digitally kicking a soccer ball. But as the games became more expensive to make and the competition grew fiercer, the field began to shrink. By the time we got to the release of the PlayStation 3 in 2006, it was largely a two-horse race, with fifa and professional evolution football the only titles worth playing.

And another 17 years later, EA fifa it’s pretty much the only soccer game out there. EA has developers with years of experience creating soccer games, they’re good at it, and it’s a team of people who live and breathe soccer.

FIFA 23. Credit: Electronic Arts.

Which is bad news for FIFA (the governing body) because whoever FIFA (the governing body) hires to do fifa (the game), they will not be developers who have been working on fifa (the game). Very few studios are shipping soccer games these days.

So the question arises: who is going to make this new franchise? While many developers would no doubt be eager to get as profitable a money hose as the fifa franchise, being able to make a soccer game with the mass appeal of EA fifa attempts is not an easy task, especially starting from scratch.

There is no doubt that this can be overcome. People can learn by doing and in a few years there is no doubt that the team making this new incarnation of fifa You’ll have fine-tuned your production line and acquired the tools you need for the high-fidelity AAA gameplay gamers have come to expect from the name. But it won’t be easy.

FIFA 23. Credit: EA Sports.
‘FIFA 23’. CREDIT: EA Sports.

This task becomes much more difficult if FIFA really decides to go it alone, keeping all the property for themselves. This seems unlikely because why would the international soccer governing body want to become game developers as well? That would mean learning how to run a studio and all that goes with it, so I’m assuming a development partnership will be announced in the near future.

Yet I think I know how fifa25 It will go down. That’s because this has happened before in sports games. Championship Manager publishers Eidos parted ways with the game’s original developers, Sports Interactive, who retained the engine, database, and staff used to develop Championship Manager. The new series they created didn’t have name recognition, but Football coach is a management simulator that is still popular today.

Meanwhile, Eidos kept the Championship Manager title, trading the fact that people would stay loyal to the brand and its name. But even with talent that includes David Rutter, who went on to headline the fifa series at EA for many years – the new team, Beautiful Game Studios, struggled to create a game that captured the same magic of Sports Interactive’s baby. Both critical reactions and sales were middling at best, before Eidos conceded defeat and gave way to Football coach A few years later.

FIFA 23. Credit: EA Sports.

The competition is crucial to encourage everyone involved to bring their A-game. While each fifa title has brought significant improvements, the lack of success from Konami’s competition electronic football (before PES) means there are no challenges to keeping EA honest when they launch EA Sports FC. I would love to see new opponents get involved, but I think FIFA may not understand the scale of the venture they are investigating.

Of course, there’s no denying that the FIFA name holds sway for casual gamers who can’t play much more each year. For them, going to the PS Store or walking into a supermarket and seeing the word FIFA on the cover is probably enough to make a sale.

Not having the word FIFA on its cover also has some downsides, something EA will surely notice when it releases its new soccer game in the fall. That lack of brand recognition will almost definitely translate into lost sales, plus the fact that many players simply won’t be aware of the circumstances.

FIFA 23 banned Russian teams
FIFA 23. Credit: EA Sports.

Infantino has a history of making bold and outlandish claims when speaking to the press. Today was no different: Outside of his call for FIFA to develop its own titles, the 52-year-old also compared his first FIFA presidential campaign to recovering from the Rwandan genocide. World Cup fans will have a hard time forgetting when Infantino turned a 45-minute press question-and-answer session into a shocking hour-long monologue while trying to defend the 2022 World Cup from controversy.

So maybe Infantino is just saying things without considering their impact. Either way, FIFA’s return to video games is likely to be a difficult one.

Jake Tucker is NME’s Managing Editor for Games.