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Julius

It's official: FIFA is dead, long live EA Sports FC

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Just now, Sheikah said:

Ok, but they've never made one before. Meanwhile, EA have 25+ years of experience. I don't think it's an easy ask at all to just start making these games.

Not saying it's impossible, but certainly if you're used to FIFA and like those games then the easiest way to carry on playing that sort of game is to buy EA's unbranded series from now on.

Of course it's not an easy ask, it's a huge mountain to climb for anyone willing to take on the mantle... but it's also one that is filled with masses of opportunity; after all, FIFA is easily EA's single biggest pillar that is propping up the rest of the company's failures right now.

I can imagine the likes of Take Two tripping over themselves to have a chance to take a crack at EA's golden goose...

And lets be honest, FIFA's gameplay is hardly unbeatable. That series' success has really come from its branding power, not the quality of its gameplay.  It was always the inferior series to PES, but it won by virtue of its branding power... something that is now potentially in jeopardy.  EA Sports FC might have the incumbant advantage (and would be launching earlier than FIFA's own rival series), but the lack of focus on its core gameplay may well become its achilles heel when FIFA come out swinging with their own series that has a level of branding power that EA have never had to compete against before...

I'm not saying that EA are doomed to failure, far from it, but it's also far from certain success too.  EA have already failed once with a rebranding of one of their sports series, and it could well happen again.  If the stars allign for FIFA and they really manage to come out swinging with a solid rival series? I could definitely see them doing some real damage to EA.

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8 minutes ago, Dcubed said:

Of course it's not an easy ask, it's a huge mountain to climb for anyone willing to take on the mantle... but it's also one that is filled with masses of opportunity; after all, FIFA is easily EA's single biggest pillar that is propping up the rest of the company's failures right now.

I can imagine the likes of Take Two tripping over themselves to have a chance to take a crack at EA's golden goose...

And lets be honest, FIFA's gameplay is hardly unbeatable. That series' success has really come from its branding power, not the quality of its gameplay.  It was always the inferior series to PES, but it won by virtue of its branding power... something that is now potentially in jeopardy.  EA Sports FC might have the incumbant advantage (and would be launching earlier than FIFA's own rival series), but the lack of focus on its core gameplay may well become its achilles heel when FIFA come out swinging with their own series that has a level of branding power that EA have never had to compete against before...

I'm not saying that EA are doomed to failure, far from it, but it's also far from certain success too.  EA have already failed once with a rebranding of one of their sports series, and it could well happen again.  If the stars allign for FIFA and they really manage to come out swinging with a solid rival series? I could definitely see them doing some real damage to EA.

I think you will be surprised by how quickly the shift will happen. The public will see that the game series FIFA is basically EA Sports FC now - this realisation will happen quickly because at the point of the switchover, EA will have the superior game, and the game that they're familiar with.

The people who play these games buy more or less the same game every year. They want what they're used to. And let's not forget, EA still have all of that marketing power, minus the name FIFA. People are going to know this game exists. It wouldn't surprise me if EA continue to design the box art in a way that gives off every impression it's still the same game, minus the name.

Also making a football game is harder than you think. Look at Konami's recent embarrassing attempt.

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14 hours ago, killthenet said:

Why didn't they just call it EA Ultimate Football or something - does EA not control the rights to the Ultimate Team name?

It's a good question, and it boggles my mind a fair bit that they chose to go with the name of their virtual in-game catalogue rather than snatching the opportunity to rebrand. I think the shorthand to refer to EA's football game will remain as 'FIFA' for the time being, but EA Sports FC is about as half arsed and dreadful as the games themselves often are these days.

Virtual Football, Pro Football, Ultimate Football like you suggested (think that's the strongest one to be honest), I mean pretty much anything else will do, hell why not get all high and mighty and name it 'EA Sports: The Beautiful Game'? I think it just needs to be a vessel of a title, as I don't think anything they come up with can really challenge the brevity you achieve with 'FIFA' (and it also inadvertently corrects Yanks on their use of the term 'soccer' :p), but unfortunately I really don't think it'll be an issue for them though, even if it's a stupid name. 

A really stupid name. 

15 hours ago, Dcubed said:

I think that EA may well be getting a taste of their own medicine as they start getting bullied about by FIFA’s superior leverage and buying power.

I mean, I think the only power FIFA really has is their name and FIFPro licensing (which won't impact EA too much anyways at this point, as a lot of their deals are directly with clubs, which has been increasingly frustrating to watch when it comes to the rights of Italian clubs going up in smoke; other than that, I think they've smartly jumped off at the right time while FIFA are looking for their next fix of corruption money).

I looked up the figures just (thought it was worth clarifying what is up with respective financial might) and EA's revenues and cash reserves are much larger than FIFA's - which shouldn't be too surprising, as let's not forget that FIFA's main source of income is a quadrennial tournament, which is exactly why they won't shut up about trying to make it a biennial tournament, and us why their finances are looked at as a three year window (culminating in a World Cup year).

They're also a non-profit, so while they have some reported $2.7 billion in cash reserves as of 2019, a lot of their money is (supposedly) pumped straight back into the sport. EA reportedly has cash reserves more than twice as large ($5.44 billion in cash reserves as of 2019) and the reported annual revenue for EA's Ultimate Team alone ($1.62 billion FY ending 31st March 2021) is just under a quarter of FIFA's entire projection for their triennial revenue covering the period of 2019 - 2022 (more than $6.44 billion projected for this period as of February). 

Long and short of it: FIFA has their name and some real money, EA no longer has the FIFA name but also has a lot more money immediately available* and some skin in the game industry already. 

*for clarity I think it is worth noting that EA's cash reserves would likely only keep them afloat a couple of years if they stopped posting profits. It's very unlikely, but might as well share everything I find. EA are weird. 

4 hours ago, drahkon said:

It all depends on whether EA has the rights to Ultimate Team. If they do and they get the word out to gamers they have absolutely nothing to be worried about.

They do indeed

Despite being referred to as FUT in shorthand, EA are the registered owners of the trademark to 'Ultimate Team'. 

15 hours ago, Hero-of-Time said:

I guess all we can do is wait and see how things play out.

I'm all for more competition in the gaming footy space. I've not touched FIFA in years, mainly due to EA's obsession with UT. However, it wouldn't surprise me if the official FIFA game tries to pull the same thing when it eventually releases. There's far too much money to be made and any money hungry CEO will be wanting a bit of it.

Yeah, agreed. As someone who plays Career Mode exclusively when they do play FIFA, it's long been an afterthought for EA (and that is a generous statement), with so many missed opportunities. They lack ambition. 

While competition should only be good, FIFA gonna FIFA and stuff their faces with greed and malice. They remind me of that one scene of Chihiro's parents in Spirited Away...

4e459376-d88c-4340-8846-223fd4bcc644.gif

Not that EA are much better, mind you. 

I think it says something that 2K Sports would probably be ideal from a gameplay and potentially single player experience, but let's not forget that they would also be ideal to fulfill FIFA's greedy ask of throwing a crap load of sponsors into their games too in some very disgustingly overt ways, as they already manage in NBA 2K. 

The biggest shame of all of this for me is that it's a World Cup year, and we're seemingly not going to have any official content for said World Cup. I know we only DLC back in FIFA 18, but still, that was something. 

12 hours ago, Jonnas said:

If FIFA start releasing a separate series called "FIFA [year]", then I can definitely see the public at large buying into that before checking the specific in-game licenses.

Gonna be cathartic to see one of EA or FIFA eat some humble pie in the coming years.

I think EA's advantage here is that they already have a successful model which - despite leaving single player modes behind - does a very good job of keeping players informed of major and even some very minor updates (such as Maradona image rights issues the other day meaning he's been pulled from the game temporarily), and I'm sure they are going to plaster the name 'EA Sports FC' all over their unavoidable notifications when you hop onto the game in the coming months. They also seemingly have a year or two to cement EA Sports FC as the new brand name. 

I do also think we're (collectively as a more hardcore gaming community, not you specifically Jonnas) oftentimes guilty of underestimating the FIFA audience a little bit; most of them might only play a handful of games, but man, do they really keep on top of news for those games. It's anecdotal, but I think back to early June 2016 and the guys in my high school group (people most of us would politely label as being more casual gamers: FIFA, CoD, Assassin's Creed and GTA are 90%+ of their interactions with gaming) were blowing up a group chat as they were busy sharing leaked clips and going mental over the at-the-time unannounced 'The Journey', a single player mode added for the first time in FIFA 17. 

Now that I think about it, I wonder how - if it does at all - this will impact EA's current agreement with PlayStation for their marketing deal? As I would have to imagine that the FIFA series is directly referenced in such a deal, rather than "the football game from EA Sports."

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Posted (edited)
35 minutes ago, Julius said:

I mean, I think the only power FIFA really has is their name and FIFPro licensing (which won't impact EA too much anyways at this point, as a lot of their deals are directly with clubs, which has been increasingly frustrating to watch when it comes to the rights of Italian clubs going up in smoke; other than that, I think they've smartly jumped off at the right time while FIFA are looking for their next fix of corruption money).

I looked up the figures just (thought it was worth clarifying what is up with respective financial might) and EA's revenues and cash reserves are much larger than FIFA's - which shouldn't be too surprising, as let's not forget that FIFA's main source of income is a quadrennial tournament, which is exactly why they won't shut up about trying to make it a biennial tournament, and us why their finances are looked at as a three year window (culminating in a World Cup year).

They're also a non-profit, so while they have some reported $2.7 billion in cash reserves as of 2019, a lot of their money is (supposedly) pumped straight back into the sport. EA reportedly has cash reserves more than twice as large ($5.44 billion in cash reserves as of 2019) and the reported annual revenue for EA's Ultimate Team alone ($1.62 billion FY ending 31st March 2021) is just under a quarter of FIFA's entire projection for their triennial revenue covering the period of 2019 - 2022 (more than $6.44 billion projected for this period as of February). 

Long and short of it: FIFA has their name and some real money, EA no longer has the FIFA name but also has a lot more money immediately available* and some skin in the game industry already. 

*for clarity I think it is worth noting that EA's cash reserves would likely only keep them afloat a couple of years if they stopped posting profits. It's very unlikely, but might as well share everything I find. EA are weird. 

All very good points, but it's worth keeping in mind that EA make a lot more than just FIFA... so those cash reserves wouldn't be spent purely on just EA Sports FC...

And EA have been really struggling outside of FIFA over the last few years.  Pretty much all of their other major franchises (save for Madden and the lucky Hail Mary that was Apex Legends) have basically crashed and burned.  If EA struggle to transition from FIFA to EA Sports FC, I could easily see them burning through those cash reserves pretty fast; and an acquisition (especially during this Endgame period of the western video game industry) not being far off.

 

Quote

I think EA's advantage here is that they already have a successful model which - despite leaving single player modes behind - does a very good job of keeping players informed of major and even some very minor updates (such as Maradona image rights issues the other day meaning he's been pulled from the game temporarily), and I'm sure they are going to plaster the name 'EA Sports FC' all over their unavoidable notifications when you hop onto the game in the coming months. They also seemingly have a year or two to cement EA Sports FC as the new brand name. 

I doubt that they'd be allowed to do that.  Their recent contract extension terms will almost certainly prevent them from directly advertising EA Sports FC (or any other non-FIFA branded game) anywhere within FIFA 23 itself....

... that being said... if EA were smart, they'd attempt to start off the new branding by launching EA Sports FC 23 this year, which would be a byte for byte copy of FIFA 23 with the logos switched out, on the same date/time as FIFA 23 (not sure how legal that would be, but it'd be a killer way of setting consumer expectations off the bat!)

Edited by Dcubed

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14 minutes ago, Dcubed said:

All very good points, but it's worth keeping in mind that EA make a lot more than just FIFA... so those cash reserves wouldn't be spent purely on just EA Sports FC...

And EA have been really struggling outside of FIFA over the last few years.  Pretty much all of their other major franchises (save for Madden and the lucky Hail Mary that was Apex Legends) have basically crashed and burned.  If EA struggle to transition from FIFA to EA Sports FC, I could easily see them burning through those cash reserves pretty fast; and an acquisition (especially during this Endgame period of the western video game industry) not being far off.

Oh yeah, absolutely. Like I said, they'd be lucky if those cash reserves kept them afloat for two years; I mention Ultimate Team's revenue in particular just to illustrate how stupidly well that single mode does. 

And yeah, I agree that they've been struggling, and I definitely get the vibe that they're gearing up to be sold. I think a lack of ambition outside of Respawn has really taken their wheels off the last few years (can't imagine it's great for onboarding talent either), they completely mismanage exclusive rights time and again (they had some success, but overall the Star Wars licensing deal was poor from an output perspective, and garnered terrible backlash at times; outside of FIFA and Madden, they simply make too many sports games which don't perform well enough), and some of their other IP's have been dwindling (Battlefield) while they've only just figured out that they should bring back popular IP in a big way (Mass Effect, Dead Space remake) yet weirdly have mostly been ignoring the potential of remasters.

Their slate is often as predictable as it is straight up boring to read through. 

24 minutes ago, Dcubed said:

I doubt that they'd be allowed to do that.  Their recent contract extension terms will almost certainly prevent them from directly advertising EA Sports FC (or any other non-FIFA branded game) anywhere within FIFA 23 itself...

Yeah, we'll have to wait and see, but if FIFA (the entity, not the series) is one thing, they are unjustifiably arrogant, so I imagine they were shocked when EA decided not to pay a pretty extortionate amount for their name. It honestly wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if they either straight up say "Look forward to EA Sports FC 24!" when the game starts dying down, or runs ads in in-game menus as they already do to tease things, etc. 

Or, like you suggest, something very shady like a relaunch of effectively the same title just without FIFA's name plastered everywhere. Now that I think about it, I can totally see the PS Store next year recommending EA Sports FC 24's product page from FIFA 23's, not even as an act of aggression, but just because that's how you should be curating your digital storefront (to promote the upcoming football game made by the same company on the page of the current football game). 

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3 hours ago, Dcubed said:

... that being said... if EA were smart, they'd attempt to start off the new branding by launching EA Sports FC 23 this year, which would be a byte for byte copy of FIFA 23 with the logos switched out, on the same date/time as FIFA 23 (not sure how legal that would be, but it'd be a killer way of setting consumer expectations off the bat!)

I'm not a lawyer but I know technically when I do work for a client it is their legal ownership so essentially just reskinning it will have as much of a legal leg to stand on as well...this. The work was done for FIFA, they can't just do some asset flipping and still sell it. They might well have to technically start from scratch when it comes to EASFC.

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EA were the publishers, though, they're just licencing the name rather than working for FIFA. The only part they'll have to do differently is the World Cup. 

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Fair point but it still seems unlikely they'd be able to essentially release two games under two names from one source*. Feels like there would be some legal issues there somewhere. 

*Yes I'm aware this describes their Switch annual releases

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4 hours ago, Julius said:

While competition should only be good, FIFA gonna FIFA and stuff their faces with greed and malice. They remind me of that one scene of Chihiro's parents in Spirited Away...

4e459376-d88c-4340-8846-223fd4bcc644.gif

EA Porks?

It's in the game???

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33 minutes ago, darksnowman said:

EA Porks?

It's in the game???

It's in the gammon. 

Come on!

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There's a good opinion piece on Eurogamer that summarises just how small a problem this is for EA:

Quote

For EA, which will crucially retain the all-important rights to the names and images of players, clubs and leagues, those billions merely represent the cost of a name, and not much more. In a time where fans are increasingly siloed, contained within the walls of official Discords, YouTube channels, social media accounts, and the ever-updating home screens of their favourite games themselves, it's little surprise EA's concluded that, actually, the name doesn't really matter. They've created an entire world here, and in it FIFA's developers can simply say, directly to their audience, that the next game will be called something else. The marketing team could probably do with a challenge, but even this'll be a breeze.

 

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I find this interesting purely from a business perspective.

I don't think this will cause EA much trouble, they can probably still say "from the makers of FIFA 23!", and be done with it.

The only way this can cause trouble is if another (AAA) studio comes with a competent (prefferably even better) football game, and snaps up the FIFA license, in 24. Honestly I don't see that happening.

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