It’s become almost as popular as football itself, but fans of the FIFA video game series could be in for a shock, with EA announcing that it’s reviewing its partnership with the sport’s governing body.
The gaming company has licensed the FIFA brand name since 1993, with the series having grown to become one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time. The most successful edition – FIFA 12 – continues to hold the record for the fastest selling sports game ever, racking up 3.2 million copies sold during its first week of release.
But following the release of the latest edition, FIFA 22, the developer behind the game has released a surprise statement casting the future of the series into serious doubt.
In a press release, EA said:
As we look ahead, we’re also exploring the idea of renaming our global EA Sports football games. This means we’re reviewing our naming rights agreement with FIFA, which is separate from all our other official partnerships and licenses across the football world.
The timing of the statement has led to speculation over what EA could be up to, with Metro suggesting that the company is likely making a public showing that it’s prepared to walk away from the branding if FIFA asks for too much money.
Interestingly, the developer went on to stress that renaming the game wouldn’t affect its licensing deals with other clubs and football associations, meaning fans wouldn’t see a sudden shift to the just-different-enough-to-not-get-sued club and player names famously featured in Pro Evolution Soccer, which itself recently underwent a naming rebrand.
EA stressed that the game maintained deals with ‘300 individual licensed partners that give us access to 17,000+ athletes across 700+ teams, in 100 stadiums and over 30 leagues around the world’, meaning that ‘the breadth of our partnerships and our ecosystem of licensed content will enable us to continue to bring unrivalled authenticity in our EA Sports football games, now and for many years to come’.
The news comes as rumours swirl of possible plans to make next year’s edition of the game free to play, but it looks like fans will have to stay tuned for now ahead of any major changes in 2022.