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Andrew Wilson tells staff it’s been ‘impeded’ by the FIFA brand: ‘It’s four letters on a box’

IbizaPocholo

NeoGAFs Kent Brockman

In his most revealing comments yet on the status of licence negotiations with the footballing body, Wilson told staff in an internal company meeting in November that the FIFA license had been “an impediment” to EA’s ambitions for the game series.

In comments provided anonymously to VGC, Wilson claimed that FIFA had precluded EA from expanding its games into modes beyond traditional 11v11, or “broader digital ecosystems”, and suggested that the only value EA got from the licence in a non-World Cup year was “four letters on the front of the box”.

EA declined to comment when provided with advance notice of this story.

Speaking to employees during an internal all-hands meeting in November, EA boss Wilson argued that ditching the FIFA brand could benefit its developers, players and the company’s bottom line – especially in years when it doesn’t have a World Cup tournament to put into its games.

“I’m going to be more open… more open than I’ve been with the outside world,” Wilson 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.”

He added: “Basically, what we get from FIFA in a non-World Cup year is the four letters on the front of the box, in a world where most people don’t even see the box anymore because they buy the game digitally.

“In a World Cup year of course, we get access to the World Cup, but in the broader context of global football on an annualised basis, the World Cup is important but it’s not the most important. We have 300 other licences that give us the content that our players engage with the most and the most deeply.”

Wilson went on to detail ways in which he believed EA’s football games could benefit from existing outside of restrictions imposed by the terms of the FIFA licence.

“As we’ve looked to the future we want to grow the franchise, and ironically the FIFA licence has actually been an impediment to that,” he said.

“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.”

He continued: “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.

“Our players want us to expand into the digital ecosystem more broadly… our fans are telling us they want us to go and participate in that space.

“Our FIFA licence has actually precluded us from doing a lot of this stuff. Again, FIFA is just the name on the box, but they’ve precluded our ability to be able to branch into the areas that players want.”

Lastly, the exec claimed that the FIFA licence was also stopping EA from being as agile as it would like to be in adding new features and content to the series.

“I had a conversation with [FIFA president] Gianni Infantino just a couple of weeks ago where I said, ‘listen, the money’s a thing: we don’t want to pay more money than this licence is worth. But it’s not about that, it’s really about our ability to deliver games and experiences that our fans want, in a timely fashion’.”

Although this year’s football game will carry the FIFA brand name, EA’s CEO said he still wasn’t convinced the company would be able to agree terms to extend its relationship.

“At the end of the day, I don’t know if we’re going to get there,” he said. “And ironically, if we don’t, and we’re able to rebrand our game and take control of this global football ecosystem that we’re going to build, ironically we’ll probably generate more revenue, and have more fans, and have more engagement over time.

“Because we’ll be able to work with more partners, we’ll be able to build more modes of play, we’ll be able to expand more deeply and broadly into the digital ecosystems around the fabric of football, and more than anything we’ll be able to move really, really fast.

“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,” he said.

“Because of the nature of the approval timetables and the various things around our FIFA licence, that’s actually been really hard and we’re moving much slower than we want.”

Wilson claimed in the meeting that he had communicated all of his concerns directly with FIFA.

“We’re going to work through this, we’re going to be thoughtful and we want to be good partners with FIFA, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we ultimately move in a different direction. At the end of the day, I think that might even be better for our gamers than continuing with those four letters on the box.”
 

DeepEnigma

Gold Member
let them fight fighting GIF
 
Seeing as they have put out various modes beyond traditional 11 vs 11 I am intrigued.

Does he want to add guns?

Or Rugby?
That'd be cool.

Goalkeeper attach grenade to the ball and launch it up the field. Limited substitutions. Ability to completely blow up the goal so the other team can't score for a limited time.
Have Snipers cover certain areas of the pitch so you're forced to adjust your tactics.
Laying down landmines.
Order in an airstrike when you're 5-0 up.

and my personal favourite, fucking a corner flagpole as a goal celebration.

I'd like to see change to the formula.
 
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FIFA are corrupt twats, probably worse than EA in the broader sense. That said this line is pure delusion gold -

that the FIFA brand has more meaning as a video game than it does a governing body of soccer

What a pompous statement. The video game is bigger than the actual sport/FIFA segment. Fucking LOL.

I just cannot stand the changes to controls every annualised soccer game that comes out. Gave up on that treadmill merry-go-round long ago.
 

6502

Member
That'd be cool.

Goalkeeper attach grenade to the ball and launch it up the field. Limited substitutions. Ability to completely blow up the goal so the other team can't score for a limited time.
Have Snipers cover certain areas of the pitch so you're forced to adjust your tactics.
Laying down landmines.
Order in an airstrike when you're 5-0 up.

and my personal favourite, fucking a corner flagpole as a goal celebration.

I'd like to see change to the formula.
Give this man a job EA.
 

OldBoyGamer

Member
“the FIFA brand has more meaning as a video game than it does a governing body of soccer.”

Fuck me. That’s one of the most megalomaniac, egotistical things I’ve heard someone in the games industry say. You’re gonna have to go a long way to beat that one. I can only imagine what a total cunt this guy must be to work for.

Caveat. I could possibly agree that some young children who love the video game might think this, but they count for one small portion of football fans. For that demographic you could also argue they think Match Attax are more synonymous with football than FIFA.
 

drganon

Member
Just call it soccer-whatever year it is. Just make sure not to change it to football for international release. We can see if we can trick the rest of the world into calling the sport soccer as well.
 

Soodanim

Member
What a pompous statement. The video game is bigger than the actual sport/FIFA segment. Fucking LOL.
I think he’s saying that FIFA is more recognisable as a game than the body, which is likely true. When someone says FIFA to the average person, they think of the game. In day to day football, who cares about FIFA?

“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.”
Yeah, sure they are. “Please Mister EA sir, please get more sponsorship deals for your game so you can take in money but still squeeze every penny from us anyway. Pleeeeease”

You know they aren’t going to scale back the microtransactions despite saving 2 billion and getting even more advertising deals.
 

reksveks

Member
What a pompous statement. The video game is bigger than the actual sport/FIFA segment. Fucking LOL.
You are conflating Fifa the organisation with football the sport.

In terms of brand, the competitions and some of the European leagues are more recognisable than the FIFA the organisation.
 

Cyberpunkd

Gold Member
They're having the World Cup in the Qatar this year. Qatar...........they don't have ANY history of playing soccer, they don't really even have grass, but they do have lots of oil money.
Don't forget the 40 degree heat which requires the tournament to be held in winter because LOL.
 
Please tell me he's American otherwise there is no excuse for these delusional comments.
Football is literally god and FIFA is the church. And I say this as a sports atheist.
 

Majukun

Member
they are not being impeded since the brand offers a certain kind of immediate recognition by the users, but the thing is,that's pretty much all they get from the deal, that and the world cup rights, the rest comes from all the other licenses to be paid for separately

Please tell me he's American otherwise there is no excuse for these delusional comments.
Football is literally god and FIFA is the church. And I say this as a sports atheist.
pes did pretty well back in the day without the name attached.
 
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anthony2690

Member
Assuming EA still have access to player names and teams, then I can imagine FIFA are kicking themselves so hard.

As they've shot themselves in the foot with their greed.

& NO ONE is going to give them 2 billion to use the FIFA name.
 

reksveks

Member
Please tell me he's American otherwise there is no excuse for these delusional comments.
Football is literally god and FIFA is the church. And I say this as a sports atheist.
Maybe the Catholic Church cause both have plenty of problems and not very well regarded by its 'followers'.

My analogy only goes so far.
 

Allandor

Member
He's right, back in the day nobody cared much about Fifa, it was PES that was THE football game to play. So as long as the game is good, it'll do good, people will buy it no matter the name on the box.
This.
PES was once a really good game. But somehow they managed to make it really awful in the newer releases. EA should just scrap the Fifa thing and just bring out their yearly football game. Never occurred to me why they use real player-names etc. Yes the names are known etc, but they don't really make the game better or worse. The Fifa is not really better than a patent-troll. Same applies for broadcasting rights. Just boycott them and they might learn a bit, else they get greedier and greedier.
 

Kokoloko85

Member
4 letters on a box you’ve been milking for decades with no effort... your not the good guys EA.

You‘ve made billions from it, now go and try and make a good game without those 4 letters.

Personally I love that EA cant use FIFA anymore. Dont care if FIFA is bad or good, yes they are currupt.
But when it comes to video games, EA is lazy, talentless, greedy and milked the name for decades, time to move on and try and make money without the FIFA name.
 
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Kokoloko85

Member
They're having the World Cup in the Qatar this year. Qatar...........they don't have ANY history of playing soccer, they don't really even have grass, but they do have lots of oil money.

FIFA.

Qatar plays football. And have football stadiums, what do you means they dont have any history playing ”soccer”. England just butthurt they didnt get the world cup
 

CeeJay

Member
This.
PES was once a really good game. But somehow they managed to make it really awful in the newer releases. EA should just scrap the Fifa thing and just bring out their yearly football game. Never occurred to me why they use real player-names etc. Yes the names are known etc, but they don't really make the game better or worse. The Fifa is not really better than a patent-troll. Same applies for broadcasting rights. Just boycott them and they might learn a bit, else they get greedier and greedier.
Having the FIFA licence doesn't give EA the team and player likenesses, just purely the FIFA branding and the FIFA competitions such as the World Cup. They could probably just call it Football Ultimate Team (FUT) going forward and be fine.
 

Itchy Tickles

Neo Member
Like a lot of people, I've played football games for years , but I have NEVER called FIFA anything other than FIFA. My friends and I never said, "let's go play EA Sports football" or whatever they would try and change the narrative to.

PES was also just called just Pro Evo or PES, and I can't see myself ever calling it eFootball (unless telling someone the name of it so they can search for the download) So I think those four letters can have a bigger impact than he's trying to play off.

Hell EA is 2 letters and the power it has to instantly make me think, "microtransactions, gambling, explotation,broken games, unfinished games, failed promises, game fixes never to be seen, buying out companies with a respectable reputation just to quickly ruin them, management who seemingly are some of the most ignorant morons in gaming" and that's just in 1 breath.

I have preferred the gameplay of PES for decades (not by an major amount, but enough to make it buy it over FIFA) but it was always a bit immersion breaking not seeing the real names of the leagues or cups, stadiums, teams, players (think now the names are all fine) so when I did play FIFA it felt different, in a good way, but mainly in terms of immersion from the licensing.

Such a subtle non gameplay effecting thing (except immersion) but made it feel like the official game of football because of the FIFA name and everything already mentioned.

I wonder if people and reaction streamers would actually continue gambling so much money on their loot boxes / crates / packs if they didnt have the licence? Would EA lose a lot of microtransaction money because of it?

Also to be clear, I hate FIFA the organisation and I can only dream of the day that gaming companies like EA go bankrupt or just fade to obscurity.

Overall this kinda gives me the same gross "money vs money" feeling as Apple vs Epic.
 
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