FIFA’s decision to part ways with EA Sports might turn out to be a costly mistake.

In 2021, there were hints about a potential split between EA Sports and FIFA. By 2022, this speculation became a reality as the two entities decided to part ways. On the surface, the separation appears to be friendly. They will collaborate on one last game, FIFA 23, after which they will pursue their individual paths. While EA Sports will retain the game, FIFA will hold onto the name. This raises the question: what comes next?

EA Sports was quick to make its move, introducing the ‘EA Sports FC’ brand, which will be the umbrella for its future games. A pressing concern for many gamers was whether the company would still have the rights to use real club and player names. CEO Andrew Wilson addressed this in a press release, emphasizing EA Sports’ numerous “partners.” Major football entities like the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, UEFA, and CONMEBOL have all shown their support for EA Sports FC. FIFA’s response came two hours later and seemed less compelling.

FIFA announced its plans to diversify its gaming rights and revealed intentions for new “non-simulation” games set to launch before the World Cup finals. FIFA president Gianni Infantino emphasized that the only game bearing the FIFA name would be the best in the market. He stressed the importance and constancy of the FIFA name in the gaming world.

The term “non-simulation” suggests that these new games won’t follow the traditional formats of playing as a footballer or a manager. It’s unclear what these games will entail, leading to speculations about their nature. Infantino’s confidence in the power of the ‘FIFA’ name in the gaming industry is surprising. Comparing it to a scenario where Ferrari loses all its assets but still believes in its brand dominance seems far-fetched.

Interestingly, there’s a historical precedent for such a split. Eidos and Sports Interactive, the company behind the Championship Manager series, parted ways in 2003. While Eidos retained the name, Sports Interactive kept the essential components of the game. Despite Eidos having brand recognition, their game was plagued with issues, whereas Sports Interactive’s game was superior. Over time, Football Manager became the dominant force in the genre.

The anticipation now revolves around FIFA’s announcement of a “major new simulation football title for 2024.” While competition is beneficial, breaking into this market is challenging. Konami’s ‘eFootball’ game, despite the company’s long-standing reputation, faced significant criticism upon release. It’s uncertain what unique offering FIFA can bring, apart from its renowned name. Partnering with a seasoned publisher might be FIFA’s best bet, but even then, challenges abound.

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is the global governing body for soccer (football in most parts of the world). Founded in 1904, its primary responsibilities include organizing and overseeing international football competitions, most notably the FIFA World Cup, which is held every four years. FIFA sets the rules for the game, sanctions international fixtures, and controls the rights to the World Cup.

EA Sports is a division of Electronic Arts, a leading global interactive entertainment software company. Founded in 1982, EA Sports specializes in creating and distributing sports video games. One of its most popular and long-standing franchises is the FIFA series, which simulates real-world football and features licensed player names, clubs, and leagues. Over the years, the FIFA series has become a cornerstone in the sports gaming industry, offering players immersive experiences with each annual release.

The underlying reason for the EA Sports and FIFA split is believed to be a disagreement over revenue distribution. EA reportedly earns a significant portion of its annual revenue from the FIFA game, and FIFA wanted a larger share. When signs of a split appeared, many believed a compromise would be reached, given the lucrative nature of the partnership. However, FIFA has chosen to walk away, and the decision to create its own game might be a costly endeavor.

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