FIFA, one of EA Sports’ oldest and most successful sports game franchises, may soon be unable to use the FIFA name. According to a report in New York TimesNegotiations around a licensing deal between the football governing body and the publishing giant are beginning to break down, with both sides citing grievances and desires that the other is unwilling to do. EA is said to have planned a future without the FIFA name, although nothing has been confirmed yet.
As it stands, EA and FIFA have a licensing agreement that allows the publisher to use the FIFA World Cup name, logo, and paraphernalia in its soccer game series. The deal has been kept for three decades and is renewed every decade, and it brings in both EA Sports and FIFA a significant amount of money annually. The most recent decade of agreement will end after the 2022 World Cup, and negotiations over how to continue are said to have hit roadblocks.
There are two factors causing the slowdown: Money and exclusivity. FIFA is asking to double the amount they receive from each annual installment of the game. In the four-year cycle of the World Cup, this figure will reach more than 1 billion USD. As for the second part, FIFA only wants to grant EA the rights to use the name in its football games, but EA wants to explore other revenue sources with the FIFA name, including NFT sales, esports tournaments Death and highlights of real life football Game.
EA has reason to be unhappy with the deal. The publisher wants to focus on microtransactions, but FIFA would rather sell the ability to do so to another company. EA is also displeased that FIFA has expressed interest in working out agreements with other game companies for non-soccer-related games and content. Under the terms of the deal, EA pays more for exclusive rights to FIFA, so the company’s desire to branch out to other developers is causing EA to question what exactly it will pay for.
While negotiations are not yet complete and a decision is most likely to be made before the end of the year, EA has trademarked EA Sports FC in the European Union and the UK, meaning the company could predicted the deal would be successful. – or at least take precautions in case it happens. Even if the talks fall apart, EA will still be able to use the player model and team in its games thanks to hundreds of other licensing agreements with organizations around the world; Their agreement with FIFA only allows them to use the FIFA World Cup name, logo and content.
Even so, a deal that falls apart would cost FIFA a significant source of revenue, prevent the organization from building up in the world of professional football and delay some future plans. EA will also lose the hugely recognizable FIFA name, which is undoubtedly responsible for some of the game’s revenue. For now, negotiations are still underway, but it looks like EA is reportedly planning for the worst.
A similar event happened a few years ago with Natsume and Marvelous’s critically acclaimed farming sim series Harvest moon. As detailed in Polygon, Natsume Publisher retains the rights to the name Harvest Moon and wanted to make his own entries in the franchise under the name, separating from developer Marvelous to do so. Instead of ending it there, Marvelous continued to do Harvest Moon-style game under western name Story of Seasons. No game series is doing particularly well these days, leaving the playing field wide open for games like Stardew Valley and coming soon Atoll to fill the agricultural sim gap.