FIFA 23: will it be the last FIFA, what is new EA Sports FC game, future football games - and release date

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The long-running licence agreement that has linked the FIFA brand to EA’s football franchise since 1993 is due to expire.

The news has been in the works for some time now, and rumours about the change have been circulating in recent months, but it’s now official.

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Until now, FIFA had an exclusive licence agreement with EA, which meant that only they could create football video games bearing the FIFA brand and logos.

That contract was due to end this year, but a "short-term extension" was reached, meaning FIFA 23 will be the final EA title to feature FIFA branding.

Here is everything you need to know.

Why has the deal come to an end?

According to the New York Times, the disagrement between EA and FIFA is a mostly one — EA pays FIFA about $150 million (£121.6 million) per year for the rights, and FIFA was trying to renew the contract for more than double that amount.

They also clashed on the scope of the rights.

FIFA wanted the freedom to explore options outside of its agreement with EA for video games, while EA wanted to keep control of everything FIFA-related in the gaming sector.

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What is EA Sports FC?

(Image: EA Sports)(Image: EA Sports)
(Image: EA Sports)

FIFA has obviously been a highly lucrative series for EA Sports, and with a development team boasting decades of experience working on football games between them, they’re not going to just let that revenue stream dry up.

So, the studio will still continue to work on footballing games, only they won’t be released under the ‘FIFA’ banner.

Instead, they’ll become known as EA Sports FC, a new “independent platform” which EA is touting as “the future of football”.

In a press release on its official website, EA said the games will continue to feature all of the official names and stats we’ve come to expect from the FIFA games, thanks to a “unique licensing portfolio of more than 19,000+ players, 700+ teams, 100+ stadiums and 30 leagues.

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“That includes exclusive partnerships with the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, the MLS – and more to come.”

In terms of the core game itself, EA Sports has assuaged fan concerns that a break from the FIFA brand will mean a drastic overhaul, saying “everything you love about our games will be part of EA Sports FC.”

That includes “the same great experiences, modes, leagues, tournaments, clubs and athletes,” it says.

“We’re dedicated to meaningfully reinvesting in the sport, and we’re excited to work with a large and increasing number of partners to expand to new authentic experiences that bring joy, inclusivity and immersion to a global community of fans.”

Will FIFA 23 be the last ever FIFA game?

(Image: EA Sports)(Image: EA Sports)
(Image: EA Sports)

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While the headlines scream that this year’s edition of the game may be the last, fans of the 30-year long series needn’t worry all too much.

FIFA has confirmed that it will continue to release games under the "FIFA" banner in the future.

If anything, this is good news for not just FIFA fans, but fans of all footballing games, as it means that not only will we likely get FIFA 24, 25 and beyond, we’ll also get the new EA Sports FC line, alongside the already existing eFootball games (previously known as Pro Evolution Soccer).

From FIFA 24 going forward, the franchise may look a little different under a new developer, but having FIFA take the opportunity to shake up the formula a little would likely be welcomed by most fans.

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It would be easy to assume that the ‘official’ FIFA games will still carry all the official team, player and stadium branding which has made them the ‘definitive’ footballing experience since 199, but that might not be the case.

EA Sports says the “licensing portfolio” it has continued to invest in “for decades” will be available “uniquely” in EA Sports FC.

FIFA fired back with its own counter statement from president Gianni Infantino, who 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.”

Infantino indeed.

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What could future FIFA games look like?

According to rumours, FIFA is already collaborating with other third-party developers on multiple fresh new football games, which could be released as early as Q3 (meaning between July and September) this year.

According Polygon, the aforementioned extension between FIFA and EA “grants rights for the simulation football category only, freeing up broader gaming rights for FIFA and different gaming publishers to launch new games.”

“Simulation” refers to the FIFA series’ more realistic depiction of the sport, and means other developers are already free to create non-simulation games - like the overly stylised FIFA Street games.

FIFA announced on Tuesday 10 May that “a number of new non-simulation games are already under production,” and are expected to release this autumn.

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Though it did not give any details on the developers or publishers involved, the first of these titles will be dedicated to the 2022 World Cup, to be held in Qatar between November and December.

FIFA also said it is in talks with potential partners for projects related to the 2023 Women’s World Cup, which will be hosted by Australia and New Zealand next summer.

As for when the first non-EA ‘simulation’ FIFA game will be released, FIFA hopes to reintroduce a FIFA-branded simulation football game to the market In 2024.

FIFA said it is “currently engaging with leading game publishers, media companies and investors” about the project.

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When is FIFA 23 coming out?

Before all that though, there is still one new game in the FIFA mold we’ve all come to love to look forward to.

While the release date hasn’t been officially confirmed, it’s been predicted that FIFA 23 will release on 30 September 2022.

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