For decades now, ever since the first iteration dropped on the Sega Mega Drive back in the early 90s, the FIFA franchise has been arguably the most iconic and successful sports game franchise in the world. The landscape of football video games is undergoing a significant shift, however, with the termination of the licensing partnership between EA and FIFA.
This development opens a world of new possibilities and challenges for game developers and play-ers alike. In this article, we will explore the future of football games, focusing on the upcoming EA Sports FC game, the implications of the EA-FIFA split, and the emergence of alternative football game titles.
EA Sports FC: A New Era for Football Gaming
EA Sports FC, the next football game from Electronic Arts (EA), is effectively going to be the next FIFA game in all but name. It’s early days yet, but reports seem to suggest the game engine will re-main largely unchanged and if they can grab the necessary licenses, EA Sports FC aims to provide an immersive and authentic gaming experience on par with its earlier iterations.
The EA-FIFA Split and the Battle for Rights
However, while EA Sports FC is sure to sell well, the brand recognition of FIFA is hard to ignore and the separation of EA and FIFA has created a potential dispute over the usage rights of real teams and players in. The termination of their partnership raises questions about the future availa-bility of accurate team rosters and player likenesses. EA Sports FC is expected to mitigate these concerns by independently acquiring licenses from various football clubs, so it would need to apply individually for the big players like Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk. But other companies could also apply for these licenses, meaning EA would no longer hold exclusive rights.
Implications for the UK Market
In the UK, where football is as popular as ever, the changing dynamics of football gaming are ex-pected to resonate strongly. In the 90s and the 2000s, the playground debate was always FIFA vs ISS (International Superstar Soccer), with many fans claiming the latter title always had the better gameplay. Today, however, Pro Evolution Soccer (PES), which is the spiritual successor to that franchise, hasn’t released a game in three years now, so it remains to be seen if others will step in to take on EA at their own game in the coming years.
The EA/FIFA split has potentially paved the way for the emergence of other football game titles, diversifying the market and catering to the evolving disparate preferences of football gamers. As the landscape evolves, football gaming in the UK and beyond promises to be a thrilling and immersive experience, particularly with the dawn of mainstream VR on the horizon. Can EA remain dominant well into the next generation of consoles?