Over the last year there's been some drama between videogame giant EA and FIFA, the world governing body for football, over the FIFA name. EA's current licensing deal with FIFA is ending and it's going on to build its own football brand, the snappily titled EA Sports FC. It marks the end of an incredibly successful partnership, and is a bit of a disaster for FIFA, which now has to build a competitor from scratch.
FIFA 23 will be the final game released in this partnership, and comes out on September 30 for PC. It features women’s club teams for the first time: specifically, the Barclays Women’s Super League and Division 1 Arkema. It will also introduce this year's Qatar World Cup and the women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand as post-launch updates.
The press release waffles on about HyperMotion technology and physics systems, as well as a new "intelligent dribbling" system, which sounds oddly similar to what eFootball was going for. The increased integration of women's football also means a bunch of new mocapped animations to more accurately reflect real-life movement. There's also a new training centre that should better teach new players the fundamentals before they get tonked 8-0 online.
FIFA 23 will boast over 19,000 players, more than 700 teams, 100+ stadiums and over 30 leagues. The licenses it has includes the UEFA Champions League, the Europa League, the Europa Conference League, CONMEBOL Libertadores, CONMEBOL Sudamericana, Premier League, Bundesliga, and LaLiga Santander. Important to note is that EA will continue to be able to license these things: it's losing the FIFA brand, not football.
One interesting element is that the re-branding has already started. EA's press materials refer to the game not as FIFA 23 but as EA SPORTS FIFA 23, and the quotes from various footballing figures such as the FA's Navin Singh talk about the "added visibility a global brand like EA SPORTS will provide for our league".
FIFA must be kicking itself, eh. All the usual features are included, and the game has a short early access period for EA Play members. The Hypermotion2 technology is also included in the PC version this time which is nice because, last time around, our monster rigs were not deemed powerful enough.
EA has announced its last-ever FIFA game, and it's made me weirdly melancholy. This series has been around since I was a kid and, as something of a football nut, I've played countless iterations of it all the way from the Mega Drive's isometric sprites (and halfway line goals) to the incredibly detailed modern simulation it has become. This changes in this series over time have been something else and, while the game itself will continue under EA's branding, it won't be FIFA anymore.
FIFA 23 marks the end of an era. Soon enough, we'll know whether it was all just, as EA's CEO claims, "four letters on the front of the box".