FIFA might be synonymous with football videogames, but EA is strongly considering dropping the branding for its long-running kickabout as it rethinks its licensing agreements with football leagues.
The news dropped as something of a surprise note during a post-release FIFA 22 blog post (opens in new tab). Ostensibly boasting about reaching 9.1 million players and other milestones, the post sharply pivots into an exploration of where the footy franchise could go next—starting with a rethink of its own identity.
"As we look ahead, we’re also exploring the idea of renaming our global EA SPORTS football games," EA Sports Group general manager Cam Weber writes. "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."
The rest of the post does explain why this rebranding might be overdue. Despite being the most high-profile partnership, FIFA also includes licenses and partners with dozens of other high-profile leagues and organisations. Additionally, the publisher wants to push further into grassroots footy, and better reflect women's football in the series.
There's also the idea, which past EA executives such as Peter Moore have raised, that EA has arguably done more for FIFA's image with the success of this series than FIFA has itself. FIFA has from this point of view done extraordinarily well out of its deal with EA, to the extent some question whether EA should be paying FIFA to use the name at all.
The FIFA license will likely remain, as will agreements to portray the clubs and players within. But if EA wants to better represent the broader face of footy, it could be a little stifling to do so under the name of one particular association.
Hopefully, a rethink in identity would be met by a rethink of the series' PC strategy. FIFA 22 frustrated ahead of release with the announcement that we'd essentially be getting the last-gen console version (opens in new tab), as EA didn't want to exclude players on older hardware (opens in new tab).