EA Sports deal with FIFPRO triggers new questions over FIFA gaming commitment

By Paul Nicholson

October 13 – EA Sports has renewed its licensing deal with players’ union FIFPRO in what is described as a “long term commitment”, but at the same time raises further doubts over EA’s ‘commitment’ to FIFA and use of its brand name.

The EA license agreement with FIFPRO supports the “thousands of player names and likenesses” that are used in the game.

In its press release EA says that its football game is supported by more than 300 license agreements and names deals with UEFA Champions League, Conmebol Libertadores, Premier League, Bundesliga, and LaLiga Santander.

There is no mention of FIFA, FIFA World Cup or FIFA Club World Cup that are played on its gaming platform.

A trademark filing at the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office and the European Union Intellectual Property Office shows EA having registered ‘EA Sports FC’, with speculation that the game maker is getting ready to drop the FIFA brand name.

In its latest accounts FIFA reported that $158.9 million of the its $266.5 million in total revenue for the year came from licensing rights. The bulk of that will be EA deal and presumably any revenue share from the game.

Last week EA Sports group general manager, Cam Weber, said the company is “reviewing” its naming rights agreement with FIFA.

See: David Owen: EA Sports ‘review’ puts new question-mark over FIFA’s expansionist agenda 

Taking into account the large number of license agreements throughout football, and the renewal with FIFPRO, it means that EA could comfortably drop the FIFA name and any FIFA-licensed assets from the game without damaging the more than 150 million global players.

“Our players regularly remind us that one of the most important aspects of an EA Sports experience is the deep immersion created through authentic use of the world’s greatest leagues, teams and talent – it’s how we continue to uniquely blur the lines between the digital and physical worlds of football,” said David Jackson, VP EA Sports Brand.

“FIFPRO will continue to be an important partner as we build the next generation of EA Sports football experiences for players around the world.”

Those experiences look increasingly likely to be outside of the FIFA experience and its competitions that are becoming increasingly confused both within the gaming world and in the real world of physical competition.

For FIFPRO it is the recognition of the key asset of the players and their individual rights that will be most gratifying.

“We are extremely pleased to extend the long-term relationship with EA Sports, a true partner that’s committed to create the best interactive experience for football fans worldwide,” said Theo van Seggelen, Statutory Director of FIFPRO Holding.

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