The FIFA soccer video game that gamers have enjoyed for years will disappear after its maker failed to strike a new licensing deal with world soccer's governing body.
Electronic Arts Sports will instead introduce a new game — EA Sports FC — for 2023. The EA partnership with FIFA ends later this year. FIFA said Monday it has decided to allow "third-party studios and publishers" to produce video games going forward.
"FIFA intends to work with a range of partners rather than lock up all gaming and esports rights exclusively with one publisher for the long term," the organization said.
FIFA is the rule-making agency behind European soccer, where across the pond it's known as football and teams are known as clubs. The organization signaled that it would not renew its exclusive gaming rights with EA last October.
$20 billion in sales
Electronic Arts has been producing the FIFA game for around three decades. During that time, the video game publisher said it developed a fond association with more than 150 million soccer fans worldwide and helped FIFA gain visibility at a time when the brand was tarnished amid a wave of arrests of soccer officials in Germany.
The video game has generated more than $20 billion in sales during the past two decades for FIFA and for EA, the New York Times reported.
The video game naming convention of FIFA 2022 or FIFA 2023 will remain with the organization, said president Gianni Infantino. Officials have not revealed which other gaming companies will make FIFA brand soccer video games on its behalf.
"I can assure you that the only authentic, real game that has the FIFA name will be the best one available for gamers and football fans," Infantino said in a statement Monday.
For many gamers and sports fans, FIFA means a video game rather than a sports organization. Now FIFA will have to search for new video gaming partners. EA CEO Andrew Wilson said the company is moving on and focusing its energy toward the new video game franchise.
"We have an incredible opportunity to put EA Sports FC at the heart of the sport and to bring even more innovative and authentic experiences to the growing football audience," he said.
EA officials said the new video game will have licenses from LaLiga, Bundesliga and other top European soccer leagues to feature teams on the platform. Licenses from those leagues were a key and favorite feature among gamers who liked the previous FIFA games, they said.
"Everything you love about our games will be part of EA Sports FC — the same great experiences, modes, leagues, tournaments, clubs and athletes will be there," Cam Weber, the executive vice president for EA Sports and Racing, said in a statement. "We exist to create the future of football fandom — whether virtual or real, digital or physical, it's all football."
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