Infantino gambled: “Fifa” will soon be called “EA Sports FC” – economic

FIFA is now EA Sports FC – but otherwise nothing changes. Big comparisons have to be made, in this case to the unforgettable ’90s Raider / Twix ad to understand what just happened in the soccer and video game industry: negotiations between the global soccer association Fifa and game producer EA Sports finally failed. after three decades, the extremely successful cooperation will end after next year’s Women’s World Cup and will not be renewed.

You could say: Oh, it’s just a video game. Add to that a few capitalist figures they’ve always liked in both industries: EA Sports has grossed over $ 20 billion on the franchise in the last 20 years, the world’s governing body receives $ 150 million a year in royalties. With 325 million units sold it is the most successful sports video game franchise in history according to the Guinness Book of Records, the single format “FIFA 12” is the sports game with the highest sales in a week with 186 million dollars.

With 150 million active players, there are also aspects of the pop culture phenomenon that are hard to measure: when tennis player Daniil Medvedev throws himself to the ground after winning the US Open, he says “L2 plus Lewo” and with the same key the combination of cheers for dead fish means – what is such a moment worth? Or maybe someone is not even interested in football, but when playing with friends knows that Niklas Süle will move from FC Bayern to Borussia Dortmund? When did multiple video game world champions Dennis and Daniel Schellhase, better known as the “FIFA twins” become ambassadors for the 2006 World Cup in Germany?

Apparently, FIFA went overboard with its demands

The question then, of course, arises: who was gambling? The short answer, however incredible as it may seem: a global association that is likely to lose far more than EA Sports as a result of a failed deal and has little chance of winning anything. Yes, the producer could lose that name, which for many is more synonymous with a video game than a federation (like many no longer know that John Madden, the namesake of EA Sports’ soccer simulator, was a genius coach), but otherwise the company stores just about everything which makes the series legendary – and even wins.

“The question is, what else can we do for the players?” Said Andrew Wilson New York Times. He used to be a FIFA engineer, now he is the CEO of EA Sports, and recently he personally negotiated with FIFA boss Gianni Infantino to get the expansion anyway: “But it’s also about the questions: How can we introduce more game modes? How can we reach more players? How can we go beyond the limits of the real game? “

Now it gets interesting: it is said that Fifa not only demanded to double its license fees to $ 300 million a year, but on the one hand that only the partners of the world association should be seen in the field of video games – an approach that is also used by the so-called . “No miles” around the stadiums of the World Cup. On the other hand, Fifa wanted to position its brand differently, for example by making it available to other producers of soccer simulations. A statement by a global association now states that Fifa wants to diversify its gaming rights and thus offer “football and gaming fans more choice”.

It sounds a bit like a brokenhearted defector who claims he can now date a lot of other people – because yes, EA Sports is losing the name inherent in the game and the right to offer the FIFA World Cup in the game, but retains many other elements of over 300 others exclusive licensing rights: those in the English Premier League, for example the German Bundesliga, Italian Serie A and the Champions League – and therefore rights for over 19,000 players, 700 clubs and 100 stadiums.

What’s more: without FIFA restrictions, EA Sports can now partner with companies that were previously not allowed. For example, sporting goods manufacturers and a Nike Twitter post on Tuesday afternoon showed what this means. The translation is: “Soccer, can I present the future for you? We are proud to work with EA Sports FC and shape the future of the beautiful game. More than in June 2023. Are you ready?” EA Sports may now expand to other areas such as ticket and jersey sellers or betting providers, but nothing is officially known about.

EA Sports has artfully combined three elements

To understand why FIFA needs the series more than the other way around, you should know how games became a pop culture phenomenon. There were some great soccer simulations: for example, “Sensible Soccer” (1992), with the simplest gameplay and great grip; or “Kick Off 2” (1990), which allowed several variants of shots despite only one button. Or “Virtua Striker” (1995), the first simulation with 3D characters. Or “Actua Soccer” (1995), which captured the movements of Sheffield Wednesday players using motion capture technology. And of course the “Pro Evolution Soccer” series, for a long time a great competitor of EA Sports due to better gameplay.

EA Sports has artfully combined three elements. First: those rights that he owns and has been aggressively selling since 1993; for example, in a 2006 ad that said, “Haven’t you dreamed of the perfect shot? When is an entire nation holding its breath? You’re Wayne Rooney. You are Ronaldinho. You are a star!” It was the promise of being able to play like superstars, later combined with the ability to integrate your image into the game and score the most goals as the star of your favorite club.

It was a lure for ordinary players for whom “FIFA” became a playground, just like soccer fields for real footballers. It was around this time that the company improved the gameplay in such a way that “FIFA” became a variant for professional players and was used during video game events. Third aspect: pop culture references – so if there was a video on social media in which amateur footballers incited crazy cheering, like “Dead Fish”, it soon appeared in the video game (and later at the US Open thanks to Medvedev). ).

EA Sports has a quasi-monopoly on soccer simulations, and the group also knows how to sell it; for example, through card-like “player packs” that players can use to upgrade their teams. Or about creating worlds beyond football like other video games like Fortnite and Roblox. So the game itself shouldn’t change too much, as recent years have shown: minor improvements, often cosmetic or in the gameplay itself – and people are still buying.

Fifa has been trying to make money from digital change for years, with mixed success. Gareth Sutcliffe, video game expert at Enders Analysis, succinctly summarizes what just happened: “EA will continue to accelerate. They have the technical means, they have the intellectual property of an amazing game, they have marketing opportunities. FIFA has: a name – and besides? Of course, this is also a statement about a fundamental problem for world association.

This is not good news for FIFA boss Infantino, who is eliminating all the scandals that surround him and associations with the prospect of higher income – this is how he wants to secure his third term in office. Now, however, it is losing an annual three-digit amount and a reliable partner and a suitable replacement is currently not visible. Another variant of “FIFA” will be released in the fall, after which the advertising slogan could be: “FIFA” is now called “EA Sports FC”, but otherwise nothing will change – at least for EA Sports.

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