Electronic Arts is to stop making classic football video game Fifa after next year’s installment of the console title, ending one of the industry’s most profitable and long-lived franchises.
EA Sports, the video game publisher’s football division, said on Tuesday that it will replace the venerable gaming title, first seen on the shelves in 1993, with a new series called EA Sports FC.
Meanwhile, Fifa has vowed to develop new video games with other publishers ahead of the World Cup.
A senior executive from EA said that the move to end the Fifa franchise was driven by licensing frustrations.
David Jackson, EA vice president, said: “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 current deal particularly limits players’ ability to watch games played by others and create content themselves, he said.
Chris Bruzzo, EA Games’ chief experience officer, told gaming website Eurogamer that around 100m people played Fifa in some form last year.
The title has been one of football gaming’s mainstays, along with Sega’s Football Manager.
Steve McCaskill, media and technology editor of industry website SportsPro, said: “Given EA Sports has cultivated a huge fan base and secured licensing agreements with other bodies like UEFA and the Premier League, the suggestion is that Fifa arguably needs the game more than vice versa. ”
EA sought to head off fears that that new game will be similar to Pro Evolution Soccer, which thanks to lack of licensing deals features teams such as “Merseyside Red” instead of Liverpool FC.
Cam Weber, vice president of EA’s sports and racing games division, said the company has the licenses for more than 19,000 players, over 700 teams, 100-plus stadiums and 30 leagues.
Mr Weber pledged that EA would deliver “one more year” of Fifa before the franchise concludes, ready for EA Sports FC to launch in summer 2023.
Mr McCaskill said: “EA Sports FC will likely be FIFA in all but name, offering the same license-based digital recreation of the world of football and most fans will understand that – even if most will still call it FIFA for years to come. ”
“This is much more than just a change of symbol – as EA Sports, we’re committed to ensuring EA Sports FC is a symbol of change.”
Fifa, the football governing body that lends its name to the video game series, said it is already working on several new games and will launch them around the World Cup in Qatar.
Gianni Infantino, Fifa president, said: “I can assure you that the only authentic, real game that has the Fifa name will be the best one available for gamers and football fans.
“The Fifa name is the only global, original title. Fifa 23, Fifa 24, Fifa 25 and Fifa 26, and so on – the constant is the FIFA name and it will remain forever and remain the best.”