EA surprised many when they announced that they were considering a FIFA rebrand for their football video game series, but reporting by the New York Times now suggest a reason for the decision: money. More specifically, FIFA wanting to charge $1 billion for each four year World Cup cycle, which would come to a tidy $2.5 billion if EA were to sign a similar 10-year agreement to the one they currently have.
While the current deal’s cost isn’t known, NYT states that this is more than double the current agreement.
Obviously FIFA is seeing the money that FIFA brings in to EA year in, year out thanks to the incredibly popular Ultimate Team mode, built as it is on borderline gambling and microtransactions. Across all of EA’s games, Ultimate Team drew in $1.62 billion in 2021, with “a substantial portion” of that coming from FIFA Ultimate Team in particular, revealed to be $0.62 billion, per analyst Daniel Ahmad.
Of course, EA also leans on boxed sales of the annual series to drive their income, so they could, if the terms were right, stomach the new licensing agreement with FIFA.
The thing is that it’s not just about the money for EA. Similar to how EA innovated with the game around Ultimate Team, they would like to explore new money-making possibilities that might include highlights of real world games, arena game tournaments and other digital products like the stupid nonsense that is the NFTs.
FIFA would like to keep those options to themselves.
So what’s the alternative? Well, EA could cook up their own brand, with a recent trademark filing for ‘EA Sports FC’ emerging as a potential new name. It’s nowhere near as iconic as FIFA, of course, but EA would still be able to slap the biggest football stars in the world on the front cover and feature real world footballer names, likenesses, teams and leagues throughout the game. These come as separate deals, one of which EA recently renewed with FIFPRO for likenesses, but that’s just one of hundreds of licensing deals that also includes key tournaments like the UEFA Champions League.
Of course, if EA does drop the FIFA license, it would mean that someone else could come along and pick it up. Konami recently rebranded their football title from PES to eFootball, and shifted away from a paid product to a free-to-play game. I’m sure they’d quite like the opportunity at a big ticket license such as FIFA. We could also see 2K pick up the FIFA license, the company currently going toe to toe with EA in golf, NFL and basketball.
Source: New York Times