October 31, 2023
Thirty years ago, FIFA, the highest authority in global sports, entered into a licensing deal with a young sports gaming company, EA Sports. This partnership gave birth to one of the most successful video game franchises in history, FIFA soccer/football. Over the years, the game has sold over 10 million units worldwide and has become synonymous with the name and fame of FIFA and its events.
Recently, when it was time to renew their deal, FIFA and EA Sports found themselves at odds over fees. FIFA requested to double the fee from $150 million to $300 million, but EA Sports refused to budge. Both parties stood their ground, resulting in FIFA walking away from the partnership.
Undeterred by the end of their 30-year relationship, EA Sports launched their latest soccer game edition as EA Sports FC 24. Despite not carrying the FIFA name, the game quickly gained credibility with the presence of Manchester City superstar Erling Haaland on the cover. Gamers, both in the sport and the soccer gaming franchise, recognized EA Sports FC 24 as the new FIFA game.
FIFA's arrogance in assuming that EA Sports would back down first proved to be a costly mistake. EA Sports has a strong reputation in the sports gaming world, having delivered top-of-the-range soccer games for three decades. Their portfolio includes titles such as Madden NFL football, NHL hockey, NBA LIVE basketball, NCAA Football, Tiger Woods PGA TOUR golf, and UFC. Gamers are loyal to EA Sports, and the FIFA label holds little significance to them.
Losing the FIFA label may actually work in EA Sports' favor. FIFA has faced numerous scandals and controversies over the years, tarnishing its reputation among soccer fans. From corruption charges to questionable sponsorship decisions, FIFA has shown a lack of understanding and connection with its fan base. As a result, soccer fans have embraced the new EA Sports FC 24 game, leaving FIFA empty-handed and with a $150 million loss in income.
The FIFA and EA Sports partnership serves as a cautionary tale of negotiations and consequences. It highlights the importance of mutual agreement and understanding in business relationships. FIFA's failure to recognize EA Sports' value and the changing sentiments of soccer fans has cost them dearly. As organizations, it is crucial to adapt and listen to the needs and preferences of your audience to maintain success and relevance.