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Long-suspected breakup between EA Sports, FIFA appears to be a done deal


Ars Technica's MS Paint interpretation of what appears to be a finalized divorce between EA Sports and FIFA.
Enlarge / Ars Technica’s MS Paint interpretation of what appears to be a finalized divorce between EA Sports and FIFA.

EA Sports / Sam Machkovech

Hidden amidst the usual “coming this fall” slate of video game announcements is one big change: the extrication of “FIFA” from all future EA Sports products.

On Thursday, Giant Bomb reporter and host Jeff Grubb followed up on an October 2021 report about the trademarked term “EA Sports Football Club,” possibly shortened to “EA Sports FC.” Grubb wondered exactly what the EAFC might refer to. EA Sports games come packed with a variety of single-player and online modes that range from cinematic story sequences to card-collecting, microtransaction-fueled frenzies, so the trademark could have referred to any kind of in-game mode—or the term could have been snapped up for non-public-facing reasons.

Around the same time, EA Sports stoked questions on the topic by publicly suggesting on its official blog that the game maker may “rename our global EA Sports [soccer] games,” all while retaining its licensing arrangements with various soccer leagues and clubs. This public suggestion could have been done for any number of reasons—perhaps to put pressure on FIFA itself to relent in aggressive, high-dollar licensing requests, lest EA Sports take both its literal and figurative ball and go home. Privately, EA executives told staffers that its arrangement with FIFA was far from fruitful, in terms of holding back possible development and design directions for future games.

Grubb’s Thursday installment of the “Grubbsnax” live stream and podcast saw him allege that the rumors were true: “EA Sports Football Club, or EA Sports FC: That’s the name.” After recalling the October 2021 trademark reveal, Grubb doubled down: “That’s the name… at least, as it’s planned right now.”

Following FIFA’s own trademark update

This came after Grubb discovered that the central FIFA organization had recently re-upped its own internal trademarks for the FIFA brand to add “video games” in a way that had not previously been registered. This alone wasn’t a clear indicator of EA Sports’ divorce from FIFA, but it does suggest that FIFA as an organization could launch its own internally developed, FIFA-branded soccer game. Exactly when that might happen, or whether it would resemble EA Sports’ successful and controversial Ultimate Team mode, is entirely unclear as of press time.

Grubb also expressed surprise that EA Sports had not already gone to the trouble of announcing the name switch, suggesting an announcement and trailer had been “planned” to happen by this point in March 2022. Getting the news out of the way by early 2022 will arguably clear the runway for EA to less awkwardly celebrate its soccer series’ 30th anniversary in late 2023.

EA Sports representatives did not immediately respond to Ars Technica’s questions on the matter.



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