Popular video games publisher Electronic Arts says it is going to stop making Fifa branded football titles.
It is one of the most profitable brands in gaming history, but the cost of the licence was one reason why the decision was made to ditch the partnership.
EA will continue to make football video games, but from 2023 they will come under a new banner, EA Sports FC.
Reacting, Fifa says it plans to release its own rival games, saying: “The Fifa name is the only global, original title.”
EA Sports made the first Fifa game in 1993 and has been in charge of the franchise ever since.
While the gameplay mechanics and core modes of play will be similar to what players have come to expect in recent years, this change will likely see the title offer a broader range of other experiences, beyond just the ability to play.
David Jackson, vice president at EA Sports, explained that the studio thinks it’s time to move in a different direction in order to build a “brand for the future”.
Although the details of those experiences are vague at the moment, it’s fair to assume that being able to watch real-life matches, experience Fortnite style live in-game events and have access to a broader range of branded in-game items are the kind of things EA would like to be able to offer, BBC writes.
Jackson says: “The world of football and the world of entertainment are changing, and they clash within our product.
“In the future our players will demand of us the ability to be more expansive in that offering. At the moment, we engage in play as a primary form of interactive experience. Soon, watching and creating content are going to be equally as important for fans.
“Under the licensing conventions that we had agreed with Fifa 10 years ago, there were some restrictions that weren’t going to allow us to be able to build those experiences for players.”
The Fifa franchise has been so successful in part down to detailed licensing agreements, that allowed for accurate representations of team kits, players faces and stadia to be seen on screen.
Players have been able to play as Premier League teams like Liverpool for years whereas competing games like Pro Evolution Soccer, offered fictional teams like Merseyside Red.
EA say they will continue to offer real-world experiences, having signed up 19,000 athletes, 700 teams, 100 stadiums and over 30 leagues for future games.
They include the Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga and Uefa.
However, the move means that games released to tie-in with the World Cup, such as Fifa: Road to World Cup 98, will no longer be made by EA.
There will be one final Fifa release, with this year’s edition – Fifa 23 – on sale this autumn as usual.
EA Sports FC will hit the shelves in late 2023.