The sheer number of other licenses EA Sports has in football means that even if it were forced to rename the FIFA series, gamers who grew up on a diet of digital football would notice little change when it came to the gaming experience.
Still, any break would have consequences. The FIFA franchise is hugely profitable, said Gareth Sutcliffe, a senior analyst specializing in the video game sector at Enders Analysis, as EA Sports has been unable to make much more than cosmetic changes to its game for most years and is still enjoying millions of sales with the release of the game. every new edition.
The game’s profitability has grown through innovations such as player packs, similar to trading cards, where users have to spend money in-game to build the best rosters. Piers Harding Rolls, a game industry analyst at Ampere Analysis, estimated that the in-game feature known as Ultimate Team was worth a staggering $1.2 billion to EA last year.
It is this new economy that EA looks forward to as part of its growth strategy. It’s also the kind of feature FIFA would prefer to foreclose and perhaps sell in lucrative – and separate – deals.
For FIFA, a break with EA Sports and the loss of the nine-digit license payments could threaten some of the innovations proposed by FIFA president, Gianni Infantino. For example, he wants to raise $2 billion to fund a new expanded World Cup for clubs. At the same time, he is trying to persuade members to support his plan to increase the frequency of the World Cup to every two years.
To find those new revenues, FIFA officials have been studying the possibility of selling licenses for non-football video games and digital products. For example, partnering with another company like Epic Games, creator of the popular Fortnite franchise, would increase FIFA’s reach, but tone down the exclusivity that EA pays a premium for. That, according to former game industry insiders like Moore, could be why his former company is considering running away.
“I’m going to say, ‘Wait a minute: we literally spent hundreds of millions of dollars building this and you’re telling me that Epic Games can come in and get a license for the name that we’ve built and that we have putting front and center and that’s become synonymous with games?” Moore said. “Then, yes, I’m negotiating and I’m fighting that.”