Back on November 10, EA Sports posted about a recurring piece of fun with the FIFA series: using the current entry, in this case FIFA 23, to predict the outcome of the Qatar world cup (opens in new tab). The actual event ended this past Sunday with Argentina versus France, and ended up delivering a final that will go down as one of the greats. After extra time the score was 3-3, and ultimately the trophy went to Argentina on penalties.
Well: FIFA 23 got it right. Not every result in the tournament, of course, but it predicted that the eventual winner of this world cup would be Argentina. It further predicted that this triumph would be spearheaded by Lionel Messi with eight goals (Messi scored seven in the real thing). It even correctly predicted that Argentina's Emiliano Martínez would scoop the golden glove as the tournament's best keeper.
It didn't get everything right. FIFA 23 thought Messi's haul would take him to the golden boot: in the event, this went to the sensational Kylian Mbappe of France with eight goals (including a hat-trick in the final). FIFA 23 also thought that Argentina would overcome Brazil in the final 1-0, while France would take third place.
Yes this is all just daft fun, and exactly on par with asking an Octopus to pick winners, but hey we do that too. Though if you ask me, the best world cup prediction animal is this insanely cute otter.
An otter has predicted victory for Japan in their upcoming World Cup match against Germany (via @mrjeffu) pic.twitter.com/0Eu3MVmT8qNovember 23, 2022
One thing that is striking, however, is that EA Sports can legitimately argue this wasn't a fluke. FIFA 23's version of the world cup may not have played out exactly like the real equivalent did but this is quite incredibly the fourth time in a row that a FIFA videogame has correctly predicted the winner of the world cup: EA called Spain in 2010, Germany in 2014, and France in 2018. Yep, it's enough to make you ask what the real simulation is.
Those of you with a penchant for sheepskin jackets may be disappointed to know that Sports Interactive did not do an equivalent simulation with its own Football Manager. Looks like FIFA retains the bragging rights for now.
Even if EA Sports gets it right again in 2026, however, this is the final bow for the game being called FIFA. Following the collapse of its longterm deal with world governing body FIFA, EA is from next year rebranding the series as EA Sports FC. It's a risk but, given the legacy and quality of the product, is likely to work out for the publisher. FIFA is left looking for new partners and, so far, has done an embarrassing job of it.