The popular video game creator Electronic Arts halted a FIFA 2022 playtest due to the possibility of breaking ties with FIFA after clashes over financial and exclusivity rights.
On July 15, 1993, the Federation Internationale de Football Association took the world by storm when it partnered up with Electronic Arts to release the first fully functioning soccer video game the world had seen. Since then, the iconic FIFA video game series has sold 325 million copies.
According to Stephen Daultrey of the Guinness World Records, “It has been listed in the Guinness World Records as the best selling sports video game franchise in the world.” After making gross sales of 1.6 billion dollars from April 2020 to March 2021, the decision to break the 28 year relationship between EA and FIFA came as a surprise.
The FIFA 22 playtest was scheduled for June 27, 2021, but was unceremoniously cancelled according to fans on social media. EA commented on this by telling fans that the motives for cancellation are due to conflict in their partnership with FIFA.
It was later confirmed by Tariq Panja of The New York Times, that “FIFA is seeking more than double what it currently receives from EA Sports” and therefore “the core of the dispute is financial.”
Another reason for the breakup is that FIFA attempted to limit EA’s exclusivity rights to the “narrow parameters around use in a soccer game”, but EA instead wished to “explore other ventures within its FIFA video game ecosystem, including highlights of actual games, arena video game tournaments and digital products like NFTs,” wrote Panja.
Although the partnership between EA and the FIFA board may come to an end, that doesn’t necessarily mean that EA’s soccer video games will cease completely. EA recently expressed that they have multiple other brand endorsements with players and teams to continue on with EA’s soccer video game legacy.
If EA can still obtain the rights for popular players such as Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland, then FIFA’s role will be rendered obsolete. In a letter released last week by Cam Weber, the executive president and general manager of EA Sports, Weber wrote, “We focus so much energy on the collective strength of over 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.” He continues, “As we look ahead, we’re exploring the idea of renaming our global EA Sports [soccer] games.”
As a result, FIFA is set to lose the most from this split. Although EA will not have the rights to prized assets such as the World Cup, EA will still be able to profit off of the split. Ultimately, this saga between FIFA and EA will be decided after the upcoming World Cup.