You may recall the announcement last week that EA Sports had announced that it was seeking to rebrand its flagship football game FIFA under a new name.
As we reported back then, the company is said to have baulked at FIFA’s demands of a licensing fee of $1 billion, which would be paid every four years to renew. That figure would be more than double the amount EA Sports have paid previously to officially license the FIFA brand.
Other Areas Of Disagreement
However, there is even more to the story than that, with FIFA believed to be demanding EA Sports place limitations on how the game is monetized following its initial sale, ostensibly through its FIFA Ultimate Team game.
The companies are also said to be unable to agree on what the license will include, with FIFA believed to be asking to play a leading role in developing more FIFA-endorsed tournaments and Non-Fungible Tokens.
To do this, they want the new agreement to limit how EA Sports can explore these markets themselves.
Unsurprisingly, EA Sports are believed to be firmly against this, wanting to explore both these markets themselves, and many others, as part of the deal.
And now Football’s international governing body has doubled down on its position by releasing a statement which appears to criticise EA”s dominant position with the football gaming and FIFA Esports industry.
“More Than One Party”
In a press release, FIFA has now stated that it feels that when it comes to FIFA Esports and football gaming in general, it has said that the industry “needs to be a space that is occupied by more than one party controlling all rights.”
This is a clear jibe at EA Sports, who by and large, aside from a few eSoccer (formerly Pro Evolution Soccer) tournaments, have a vice-like grip on football gaming and football esports.
Indeed, a quick look at the latest eFootball betting opportunities and you will note that it is likely the vast majority of the markets are for matches in tournaments played using FIFA titles.
Yet FIFA did not stop there in their latest press release, arguing:
“Technology and mobile companies are now actively competing to be associated with FIFA, it’s 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.”
Finance And Opportunities
Perhaps more to the point, given the organization’s seeming obsession with finance, the release recognises the huge growth of the esports betting and gaming industry, also states:
“It is therefore of crucial importance for FIFA and its stakeholders to maximise all future opportunities for football and gaming fans…FIFA also has a duty to support its 211 member associations to fully capitalise on the inherent opportunities that have been emerging over the recent years.”
“As part of this strategy, FIFA also commits to continuing to organise skill-based esports tournaments under the umbrella of the recently launched FIFAe competition structure and consumer brand.”
So the natural reaction of the myriad of FIFA players around the world, including those involved at the highest level of the game, is likely to be what will happen in the future?
What Could The Future Of FIFAe Sports And Soccer Gaming Look Like?
While much has been made about the $1bn price tag that FIFA have put on licensing their product, it is less likely that the break down in talks has been about this issue, and far more likely that it is the other unresolved issues outlined above that are the key factors.
Given soccer’s huge popularity, the FIFA Ultimate Team market income is vast for EA Sports and it was never likely that the company would ever agree to some form of limitation on this aspect of the game, even if it is now banned in certain countries around the world.
Similarly, with the notion of Non-Fungible Tokens only just beginning to take off in the mainstream, to sign away the rights to this to FIFA, would be a foolish move, given the likelihood of how popular (and lucrative) soccer based NFT’s would be.
FIFA, for their part, don’t want to sign a deal with EA Sports unless they are allowed to take a significant piece of this particular pie, and it seems that neither company is willing to negotiate a compromise.
As such, that does very much look like the 2022 release of the game from EA Sports will be the last FIFA title, and that in the next few years, we may well see at least one, if not more, new soccer titles emerge to take on EA Sports both in terms of gaming and within the esports community.
However, the risk that FIFA is taking is that they believe it is their name and licensing that has made the EA Sports game so massively popular. When in fact, it is far more likely that it is the quality of the game itself and its FIFPRO Licensing (which is unaffected by this) which is far more appealing to customers.
In which case, it is very feasible that by not agreeing some form of compromise here, FIFA is in danger of scoring an own goal.