Fifa no more? EA Sports rebrands its biggest game

3 Mins read

“Fancy a game of Fifa?” A question that has been asked by millions of people to friends and family across the world for nearly 30 years.

Later this year, however, that question will have to be rephrased as Electronic Arts (EA), the developer behind one of the most successful franchises in gaming history, moves on to its new football game, EA Sports FC.

Although no gameplay will be available to see until July, the work of trying to encourage Fifa’s estimated 150 million players to switch has started already.

The new game’s logo has been displayed on advertising boards in Premier League grounds and EA has also unveiled its FC Futures programme, which it says will support grassroots football projects across the world.

David Jackson, EA Sports FC’s vice-president of Brand, told the BBC this is “the right time for us to create our own narrative and be able to craft our own future”.

Leaving behind a recognisable brand is a risk in any industry, especially so in gaming where name recognition and brand loyalty are particularly pronounced. The key will be ensuring players realise what is changing but, perhaps most crucially, what is not.

Mr Jackson emphasised that more than 19,000 footballers, 700 teams and 30 leagues will still be represented in the game, despite the split from football’s governing body.

“We have to continue to show people that certain things will also be retained around the realism they know and love from a Fifa series,” he said.

“That will stay with us as we transition from Fifa to FC, but players should also expect for things to change and innovate as well.

“People should expect to see some exciting developments now we have the opportunity to think expansively about the future of interactive football.”

Simon Cardy, senior editorial producer at games website IGN, has reviewed many Fifa games over the years and thinks the challenge will be informing more part-time players.

“For the core player base I think they’ll be fully aware of the rebrand,” he said.

“It’s the more casual video game fan, or let’s say, a less clued-in family member looking to get their family member a new game as a present, that may find themselves confused over the coming months. It will be interesting to see how EA market the game on a broader scale without using the acronym Fifa.”

EA is still making content for the current and final version of Fifa, so will not reveal any details about the new game until July.

“We appreciate people wanting to know more and there will be a lot more news to come. We would love for people to feel confident in what we will be delivering,” said Mr Jackson.

“For now though I think the most important thing is we are listening to players. and working with our partners to deliver on realism and authenticity.”

EA says fans can expect features like Ultimate Team, Career Mode and Pro Clubs to continue.

‘Smart decision’
Mr Cardy thinks that getting people discussing the game now is a savvy move by EA.

“I think they made the smart decision to announce the rebranding well in advance of this year’s release, even before Fifa 22’s release, therefore giving the fanbase plenty of time to get their heads around it.

“That familiarity will ease the transition to the new branding, which we’ve already seen is playing into the nostalgia of the 30-year Fifa series.

“Ultimately, I don’t think the change in direction will hurt EA too much at all, but Fifa [the governing body] on the other hand, will be the ones left feeling the effects of the break-up more.”

Fifa president Gianni Infantino said last month it is planning to compete with EA Sports FC in the future, and will keep its video game brand alive.

He said: “The new Fifa game, Fifa 25, 26, 27 and so on, will always be the best e-game for any girl or boy.”

His comments caused surprise, given the complex and expensive nature of making a game of this scale.

‘The world’s game’

It is clear that with EA Sports FC, people should expect more interaction between the digital game and football in the real-world going forward.

It has been suggested before that the game might try to become a global hub for football content, offering viewing rights to some matches alongside the game itself and support for real-world events or tournaments.

However, none of this has been confirmed.

Mr Jackson says: “We do see ourselves as the world’s game. And as a result, we need to meet players and fans, where they are. This is a great embodiment of our commitment to football in general.

“It’s our plan to ensure our fans’ love of football can be grown from the grassroots all the way up. Our job is to blur the lines between the virtual and real in the new game.”

EA made about £5.5bn in net revenue in 2022, and a significant chunk of that will be down to Fifa’s success. Getting this switch right is big for the firm, with the team running it saying they are not nervous but “excited to get going”.

So will it be “fancy a game of FC?” in future? Watch this space to find out.

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