EA Sports FC vs FIFA: The Game Is On
For those who, on an annual basis, like to part ways with sixty pounds for a fresh twelve months of video game football, these are interesting times. Electronic Arts has broken up with FIFA, spurning the old brand and going its own way, with EA Sports FC. Given that EA has toiled on the series since the early nineties – when the grass, on the SEGA Megadrive, was a fecund fuzz of pixels – logic would have it that loyal fans ought to stick to the established formula, and damn the name change. Then again, “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.” Such are the sobering words of Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, eager to quell any notions of uprising.
The problem, at present, is that Infantino only has the name. With no word of a developer or a release window for the next FIFA, he wants to sell people on pure and frenzied pride. Call it a fever pitch. Meanwhile, EA has unveiled a raft of officially licensed clubs – including many, though not yet all, of the Premier League teams – and, furthermore, has unveiled a strange passion for geometry. “Our new brand identity is inspired by the triangles that have been part of EA SPORTS football for the past 30 years, from the isometric polygons that make up our game to the chemistry triangles that exist in Ultimate Team™ to the player indicator across every match.” This surreal message, released by EA alongside a new logo, is meant, presumably, to assure us that the studio has covered the necessary angles (all three of them). Early word is that triangle enthusiasts have lamented EA’s preference for the equilateral, rather than the isosceles or the often under-represented scalene.
The obvious question is: Which developer has FIFA approached? Assuming, that is, that a deal has been struck behind closed doors. “We will have news on this very soon,” Infantino said on Twitter. The obvious answer would be 2K Sports, whose NBA 2K series has comfortably fended off EA’s fumbling basketball attempts for years. Recent reports, however, suggest that 2K has its own geometric obsession – not, alas, the triangle but the rectangle. Apparently, the company is forging ahead with a line of LEGO sports games, with the first set to be a football title from Sumo Digital. Whether or not this means that 2K will be preoccupied, or uninterested, in adopting the FIFA name remains to be seen; but the news may have Infantino bricking it.
Another option would be to reach out to one of the major platform-holders, Microsoft or Sony. Sony has, for years, made MLB The Show – the last three games of which made their way onto Xbox – and an exclusive FIFA may help to soothe the potential loss (in ten years, or whenever) of Call of Duty. Then again, it seems doubtful that those at FIFA would be satiated with going exclusive, and thus splitting their potential sales.
And so to the third, and surely the best, option. “The new FIFA game – the FIFA 25, 26, 27 and so on – will always be the best e-game for any girl or boy,” said Infantino recently. E-game? At first, I assumed this was merely a weird turn of phrase – a quaint abbreviation, like e-mail or e-cigarette, and not altogether unpleasant. What if Infantino was, instead, slyly hinting at a potential partnership with Konami, whose Pro Evolution Soccer series has, since 2020, borne the name of eFootball? Konami and EA were once close-duelling rivals, with EA’s series in a yearly clinch with Konami’s. FIFA had the official licenses, leaving Konami to make do with the likes of Man Red, for Manchester United, and West London Blue, for Chelsea. But Pro Evolution Soccer – or PES, as it was lovingly dubbed by fans – had the better action on the pitch. (Recently, though, it’s fair to say that its star has fallen.) Now the balance could be redressed, with official sponsorship, and the result could give EA something to fret over.
One advantage of having the FIFA name that mustn’t be overlooked is the element of confusion. The coming years may prove a minefield for gift-givers, who may, from sheer force of habit, ask a shopkeeper for the latest FIFA. Let us hope that no grandparents wander up to the counter and inquire as to the best e-game for any girl or boy. Devoted players, of course, will be well prepped for the situation, and one boon for EA is that FIFA doesn’t appear to have a game ready in time to compete with EA Sports FC.
Whatever FIFA ends up producing, and whichever developer winds up stepping in, we are surely in for intriguing times ahead. Certainly, disruption is no bad thing, when it comes to sports games. As an NBA 2K zealot, I find myself, as good as those games are, resenting the grip that 2K Sports has on the landscape. Whenever a complacent entry is put out, scarcely more than a roster update, I wish that EA's NBA Live were around to prod the developer, Visual Concepts, into action. It could well be that we end up with three annual football titles: eFootball, FIFA, and EA Sports FC, all vying for your attention and your money. The symbolic portent of having three angles to choose from would surely not be lost on EA. But who knows? Perhaps we will all quit the tiring clash of the licences in favour of LEGO Football, where the players clip onto a pitch of plastic. Triangles be damned!
Saturday, April 15, 2023 @ 11:36 AM
Saturday, April 15, 2023 @ 12:49 PM
Sunday, April 16, 2023 @ 05:05 AM
Sunday, April 16, 2023 @ 03:58 PM
I guess Infantinos best bet would be to approach Konami, as they could possibly build up a game out of Pro-Evo Assets quick enough to compete with EA FC this year.