EA CEO Andrew Wilson reportedly told his staff in November 2021 that the FIFA license has been an "impediment" to EA's hopes for its football games.

Citing sources familiar with the conversation, VideoGamesChronicle reports that Wilson told staff in an internal meeting that FIFA (the organization) had kept EA from expanding FIFA (the games) into additional modes beyond a standard 11 vs. 11 or "broader digital ecosystems." Wilson also reportedly stated that the only value EA received from FIFA in a non-World Cup year was "four letters on the front of the box."

“I’m going to be more open… more open than I’ve been with the outside world,” Wilson reportedly said, when asked why EA was considering breaking up with FIFA. “We’ve had a great relationship with FIFA over the past 30-odd years. We’ve created billions in value… it’s just huge. We’ve created one of the biggest entertainment properties on the planet. 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.”

It's another installment in the long-running feud between EA and the FIFA organization, which most recently saw FIFA appear to challenge EA's football monopoly. The organization released a statement in October 2021 calling itself "bullish" over "the future of gaming and esports." The statement similarly appeared to denounce EA's grip on the football video game market, drastically outperforming its only competitor, Pro Evolution Soccer. FIFA reportedly wants to charge EA upwards of $1 billion per year for the rights to the FIFA brand.

EA currently holds a 10-year naming deal with FIFA, but that could expire without renewal after this year's Qatar World Cup, making FIFA 23 potentially the last EA Sports football game with FIFA branding.

“Our players tell us they want more cultural and commercial brands relevant to them in their markets, more deeply embedded in the game… brands like Nike. But because FIFA has a relationship with Adidas, we are not able to do that," Wilson reportedly said. “Our players tell us they want more modes of play, different things beyond 11v11 and different types of gameplay. I would tell you, it’s been a fight to get FIFA to acknowledge the types of things that we want to create, because they say our licence only covers certain categories."

Wilson also said that FIFA is impeding EA's ability to adapt quickly to player demands and adding new features or content.

“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,” Wilson said.

He added that EA wants to be "good partners" with FIFA, but "I wouldn’t be surprised if we ultimately move in a different direction."

IGN has reached out to EA for comment and will update the story if we receive a reply.

Joseph Knoop is a writer/producer for IGN.



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