FIFA Series May be in For a Name Change as EA Balks at a Billion-Dollar Licensing Fee

Nathan Birch

The most successful video game sports franchise in the world may be in for a name change. The FIFA franchise is the backbone of EA’s business, and yet, the publisher is considering dropping the branding as the FIFA organization is asking for a major boost in licensing fees. EA already openly admitted this in a recent press release, a rather unusual thing for a publisher to do…

As we look ahead, we’re also exploring the idea of renaming our global EA Sports football games. This means we’re reviewing our naming rights agreement with FIFA, which is separate from all our other official partnerships and licenses across the football world.

A new report from the New York Times provides more detail on the deteriorating relationship between EA and FIFA – negotiations have been ongoing for nearly two years, with FIFA demanding more than double their previous licensing fees (which were already worth $150 million per year). All told, FIFA is looking for more than a billion dollars to sign a new four-year agreement. In addition to the money, EA is also frustrated with the scope of the proposed agreement – in FIFA’s eyes, they’re licensing EA to make a specific video game and that’s it, while EA wants to use the FIFA branding for a wider array of things, including esports and NFTs.

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Looking beyond the nitty-gritty specifics, this is clearly a power play by EA – they’ve eliminated all serious competition in the realm of football video games, so the FIFA name doesn’t matter as much as it once did. People will play EA’s game because there’s no other option. Furthermore, FIFA’s licensing agreement with EA is their biggest single source of income, so even though they want more money, they also can’t really afford to have this partnership fall through. So yeah, this isn’t a done deal yet, but if an agreement can’t be made, EA is looking to the future – they’ve already registered the trademark for "EA Sports FC."

FIFA 22 was released on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, Switch, and Stadia earlier this month. What do you think? Is the FIFA name done for or will the two sides find a way to continue making lots and lots of money together?

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