FIFA are going their own way in gaming after having split with EA. But what comes next? Because producing triple-A games from the ground up is expensive.
It’s been a busy week for Gianni Infantino. He’d confirmed that FIFA will be using four-team groups and a round of 32 in their 48-team World Cup in 2026, a decision which takes the number of matches to be played from 64 in Qatar at the end of last year to 104. There will also be an idiosyncratic World Club Cup which takes the very worst thing about the existing version of that competition – that the biggest confederations have to jump through too few hoops to be able to call themselves the ‘world club champions’ – and makes it a 32-team tournament instead.
And now, having slung a metaphorical skateboard over his shoulder while donning a backwards baseball cap, he’s returned to the subject of video games. Or, as gamers call them, “games”. Speaking this week, Infantino said: “The new FIFA game, the FIFA 25, 26, 27 and so on will always be the best egame for any girl or boy, we will have news on this very soon.”
It’s been known that a split had happened between the global game’s governing body and Electronic Arts (EA), the people who have been producing the FIFA series of games over the last three decades, but how realistic are his plans to respawn the ‘official’ version of the world’s most popular football game?
The FIFA series of games is an absolute cash cow. FIFA 23 was the seventh best seller in the world in 2022, and the proceeds from the sale of the game itself aren’t the only prize on offer to the winners of this particular battle. On top of those revenues, there’s also scope for making enormous amounts of money from players once they’ve actually bought the product.
EA have already committed to continuing their series under the name of EA Sports FC from next year. The only difference gamers might quickly notice will be the lack of World Cup in the game. EA already hold licenses for just about everything else. But despite reports that FIFA had demanded more than £250m per year for EA to continue with the licence that did so much to make their game the top dog in the first place, it’s not easy to have much sympathy with the game’s producers.
In 2021, the last year for which such figures are available, EA made £1.62bn from their games’ Ultimate Team modes, in which players can build a team using virtual cards that can be either earned or – and this…
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