EA Sports has been the exclusive home of a lot of real-world gaming franchises for many years. The NFL, NCAA, and FIFA have been the high-profile relationships that the game publisher has been involved in over the past few decades. But, while EA has been happy in these multiple relationships, it seems no one else has been. The first to file a divorce is FIFA, which plans to shop its videogame experience around to other studios in hopes of finding a better spouse. But they might also just date around for a while, while still seeing EA on occasion.
FIFA, which is the governing body for international soccer, has finally come to the realization that gamers did years ago - that EA Sports isn't a great partner for sports brands. Gamers have become increasingly disinterested in the Madden and FIFA brands over the years, and it is harming FIFA. The organization has announced that it is in the process of re-evaluating its place in the esports world, and that involves looking at other studios. In their statement, they said,
Gaming and eSports are the fastest-growing media verticals on the planet, with new and diverse types of games launching continuously. It is therefore of crucial importance for FIFA and its stakeholders to maximise all future opportunities for football and gaming fans.
The plan is to consider each type of game individually, including professional and casual gaming, and even mobile. Each platform could possibly see its own developer tackle the space, leaving different experiences that focus on each market segment. The organization said of the future,
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. Technology and mobile companies are now actively competing to be associated with FIFA, its platforms, and global tournaments. 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.
Gaming exclusivities have been a big problem for license holders for years. The sports games have languished under EA Sports, with sales constantly dropping. Star Wars games have also languished under Electronic Arts, EA Sports' parent company. But the problem has never been specific to Electronic Arts - they just currently hold the majority of these licenses. Madden has always been an EA brand but has shifted around the company. Every time there has been a shift, the game has felt new again. That is what FIFA is hoping for with their franchise.
EA has not responded to the statement from FIFA, but one can imagine that the company won't be happy with the announcement. It may not be a direct strike at EA and its quality, but everyone can read between the lines. Especially gamers, who have been petitioning for FIFA and the NFL to explore other options for years.