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EA CEO Andrew Wilson has reportedly spoken to employees about potentially dropping the FIFA name from the long-running football series.
The alleged comments come from an internal meeting between Wilson and EA employees provided anonymously to Video Games Chronicle. This all-hands meeting, reportedly held back in November, seemed to imply cracks were forming in the relationship between EA and FIFA for some time. “I’m going to be more open… more open than I’ve been with the outside world. We’ve had a great relationship with FIFA over the past 30-odd years.”
“I would argue – and this may be a little biased – that the FIFA brand has more meaning as a video game than it does a governing body of soccer. We don’t take that for granted and we try not to be arrogant. We’ve worked really hard to try and make FIFA understand what we need for the future.”
However, Wilson would then imply as time as gone on, the publisher has gotten less value from the deal. “Basically, what we get from FIFA in a non-World Cup year is the four letters on the front of the box, in a world where most people don’t even see the box anymore because they buy the game digitally.”
Wilson would reportedly go so far as to imply the license was beginning to be an impediment to EA. “Again, FIFA is just the name on the box, but they’ve precluded our ability to be able to branch into the areas that players want”. He elaborated “Our players are telling us they want us to move really quick: ‘we want you guys doing stuff fast’. And in order to do that, we need a level of freedom to be truly creative, innovative and experiment in the marketplace.”
“Because of the nature of the approval timetables and the various things around our FIFA licence, that’s actually been really hard and we’re moving much slower than we want.”
According to the comments, Wilson had apparently expressed these concerns to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, telling him though the cost was a large factor, it wasn’t the only problem. “But it’s not about that, it’s really about our ability to deliver games and experiences that our fans want, in a timely fashion.”
While this year’s entry will supposedly still go under the name FIFA 23, Wilson isn’t so sure of the future. “We’re going to work through this, we’re going to be thoughtful and we want to be good partners with FIFA, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we ultimately move in a different direction. At the end of the day, I think that might even be better for our gamers than continuing with those four letters on the box.”
EA has apparently declined to comment on the legitimacy of the comments according to VGC, so take all this with the required pinch of salt. It was reported back in October that EA had registered the trademark EA Sports FC as a potential future name for the series. FIFA would issue its own statement on the drama a couple of weeks following that.