As many might have guessed, the reason EA and FIFA are having a difficult time coming to terms on a new agreement for the football series is money.
The New York Times reports that EA and FIFA have been in negotiations for at least two years about the future of the lucrative video game series, which the site reports has brought in more than $20 billion for EA over the past 20 years. The series has paid dividends for FIFA, too, which makes about $150 million per year from EA’s games due to its licensing agreement; the game is FIFA’s most valuable commercial deal overall.
But with the EA-FIFA deal set to expire at the end of 2022, talks are breaking down, according to NYT’s sources. This boiled over recently when EA Sports GM Cam Weber released a statement saying EA was considering its options, one of them being dropping FIFA altogether. Trademark filings have suggested EA could rebrand the series EA Sports FC. While all of this is happening, there are ongoing rumors that EA’s next football game might adopt a free-to-play, live service model not unlike Konami’s eFootball game.
According to the report, FIFA wants “more than double” what it currently gets from EA, and is asking for $1 billion for each four-year World Cup cycle.
Outside of the financial considerations, FIFA and EA can’t find common ground on what the overall rights package should include. According to the report, FIFA is seeking to limit its exclusivity deal with EA to the football game alone, while EA is apparently looking to expand its rights arrangement to also include things like showing real game highlights and selling NFTs, among other things.
Representatives for EA Sports and FIFA declined to comment.
As NYT reminds us, EA also has more than 300 separate licensing agreements with various football organizations around the world that give it access to more than 17,000 player names and likenesses. The thinking is that EA’s popular series can continue in the future without FIFA.
EA’s existing deal with FIFA gives it the right to use FIFA’s name and logo in the game, and also to include the World Cup.
The FIFA series makes money not just from initial game sales but also through its lucrative Ultimate Team Mode, which brings in more than $1 billion each year, Ampere Analysis’ Piers Harding-Rolls told NYT.
This situation sounds similar, in some ways, to what’s happening with EA’s college football series. The franchise is returning, but it won’t have the NCAA name. Instead, EA worked out a deal with the Collegiate Licensing Company to get the rights to player names, stadiums, and other real-world elements.
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