EA suggests that it may drop FIFA brand

A recent post from EA on the upcoming FIFA 22 launch has dropped something of a bomb. The publisher is currently thinking about its ongoing use of the FIFA brand, potentially renaming one of the world’s biggest games.

“As we look ahead, we’re also exploring the idea of renaming our global EA SPORTS football games. This means we’re reviewing our naming rights agreement with FIFA, which is separate from all our other official partnerships and licenses across the football world.”

The post, via NME, is keen to impress that it will continue relationships with numerous football bodies to ensure that it has the licenses and likenesses players would expect. Although we’ll admit that what it could keep, and what it stands to lose, without FIFA itself is beyond us. 

“The breadth of our partnerships and our ecosystem of licensed content will enable us to continue to bring unrivaled authenticity in our EA SPORTS football games, now and for many years to come.”

Just to consider the change is a bold move by EA. 

On the surface it looks like a negotiation tactic, that said a listed company publicly stating that it’s willing to go forward without its No.1 brand is not to be taken lightly. 

Of course, with the many scandals of the last decade, the (sporting body) FIFA is now a troubled brand in many eyes, with the US government having declared last year that bribes were taken in reference to the Russian and Qatar World Cups. And it’s problems may deepen further as we approach the contentious winter World Cup in Qatar next year.

EA then is right to play hardball with the organisation, as we’re sure other major partners, such as beer and soft drinks brands, will be as well. 

The main problem is that the brands are so heavily conjoined now. Many people, without context, even think of the game first, then the sporting body second. Plus with FIFA being the ultimate mass-market game, renaming it would cause a lot of confusion. 

And what’s the alternative: ‘EA Ultimate Team’ would further anger the microtransaction haters. Regional naming, UEFA, CONMEBOL etc. doesn’t sit well in a globalised marketing strategy. Even just ‘EA Football’ also brings up the spectre of ‘EA Soccer’ for some regions… 

It’s a rock and a hard place for EA, but it’s the right thing to be at least considering a change.

About Seth Barton

Seth Barton is the editor of MCV – which covers every aspect of the industry: development, publishing, marketing and much more. Before that Seth toiled in games retail at Electronics Boutique, studied film at university, published console and PC games for the BBC, and spent many years working in tech journalism. Living in South East London, he divides his little free time between board games, video games, beer and family. You can find him tweeting @sethbarton1.

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