EA may rebrand soccer games after stalled negotiations with FIFA over license fees

The current contract expires after next year’s World Cup.

Image from EA Sports

EA and FIFA have reached a stalemate in contract negotiations, according to The New York Times. A new report shows that the two companies have failed to renew their contract so far because of increased fees and exclusivity rights.

EA’s current ten-year contract ends after the 2022 World Cup. So far, the publisher has failed to reach agreeable terms on a new contract that will take over from that point. Two major sticking points are holding these negotiations up: FIFA wants more money from EA, and EA wants more exclusivity rights.

To date, EA has paid $150 million per World Cup season, which equates to every four years, for a license to use the FIFA name, the names of the teams involved in FIFA tournaments, and the likenesses of all the players in those tournaments. However, FIFA now wants EA to pay $1 billion for the same period moving forward, which EA doesn’t seem to want to do despite how much it must be making from FIFA Ultimate Team.

On the other hand, EA has requested more exclusivity rights for real game highlights, video game arena tournaments, and new digital products like NFTs. FIFA wants to limit EA’s exclusivity rights from what they already are to seek new income streams for all of the above and more, which EA is as unhappy about as the proposition of a $1 billion bill every four years.

If FIFA and EA can’t come to an agreement and get a new contract lined up, it would mean that EA couldn’t feature any FIFA content in future games. Not only would this mean a complete rebrand for FIFA, a series that has been running for 30 years, but other contracts that have already been signed, such as EA’s recent deal with FIFRO, would be irrevocably affected as well.

At this point, it’s likely that a rebrand wouldn’t kill FIFA because fans play each new entry for the football simulation and FIFA Ultimate Team, which is easy to retain without official names. To date, the series has sold 325 million copies and generated over $20 billion since 1993. If anything, the question is whether FIFA would survive this breakup since it wouldn’t get any exposure from every year’s biggest gaming release.