It Sounds Like FIFA Is Ending Its Exclusive Deal With EA Sports
"It is clear that this needs to be a space that is occupied by more than one party controlling all rights."
If EA and FIFA do come to an agreement about the future of the lucrative football series, it might not be an exclusive arrangement. FIFA has announced that it conducted a "comprehensive and strategic assessment" of the gaming landscape and determined that it will look to expand its business dealings to other companies.
FIFA appeared to take a dig at EA, saying, "The future of gaming and esports for football stakeholders must involve more than one party controlling and exploiting all rights."
"FIFA is bullish and excited about the future in gaming and esports for football, and it is clear that this needs to be a space that is occupied by more than one party controlling all rights," FIFA said.
The organization went on to say that multiple technology and mobile companies are "actively competing" to work with FIFA. "Consequently, FIFA is engaging with various industry players, including developers, investors and analysts, to build out a long-term view of the gaming, eSports and interactive entertainment sector. The outcome will ensure that FIFA has a range of suitable parties with specialist capabilities to actively shape the best possible experiences and offerings for fans and consumers," FIFA said.
FIFA went on to say that gaming and esports are the "fastest-growing media verticals" today, so it is important for the group to "maximize all future opportunities" to leverage the growing market.
FIFA's comments might be part of an ongoing negotiation tactic.
According to a New York Times story, FIFA is asking EA to pay $1 billion to use the FIFA name in its games, a fee it would need to pay every four years to continue their relationship. EA holds hundreds of separate licenses beyond FIFA that give it access to 17,000+ player names and likenesses and many leagues across the sport.
If EA and FIFA cannot agree to terms, the series will surely continue in some other fashion, perhaps through a rebranding called EA Sports FC. FIFA holds the rights to the World Cup, so EA's next football game presumably wouldn't have that marquee event, or maybe it could, if certain terms can be met. We'll report back with more information on the EA-FIFA talks as they become available.
It looks like FIFA is adopting a similar strategy to Disney, which no longer works with EA exclusively on Star Wars console games. Instead, Disney is now greenlighting games from a variety of other companies, including Ubisoft, which is making an open-world game at its Division studio. Additionally, a Knights of the Old Republic remake is in the works at Aspyr Media. EA is still in business with Disney, though, and is making even more Star Wars games in the future.
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