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The FIFA license has been "an impediment" to growing the franchise, says EA CEO

"What we get from FIFA in a non-World Cup year is the four letters on the front of the box."

Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson has said he feels the FIFA license had been “an impediment” to the firm growing the franchise.

Speaking in an internal company meeting back in November, information from which was shared with VGC, Wilson reportedly stated that while the company has had a "great relationship with FIFA over the past 30-odd years," it’s been "a fight" to get FIFA to acknowledge the types of things that the company wants to create. According to Wilson, this is because FIFA says EA's license "only covers certain categories."

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“As we’ve looked to the future we want to grow the franchise, and ironically the FIFA license 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.”

“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 license only covers certain categories."

Wilson goes on to say players want the game to expand into the digital ecosystem "more broadly," but the FIFA license has actually "precluded" it from doing what players are asking for.

"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," he said.

It's believed that this year's FIFA game will still carry the branding, but Wilson seems to be unsure as to whether EA and FIFA will be able to extend the current agreement.

“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.

“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.”

Back in October, EA stated publicly it was considering renaming the FIFA franchise, and a trademark filing that same month suggested the FIFA series may end up being called EA Sports FC.

EA also suggested that should it and FIFA be unable to come to an agreement, EA still las licenses covering leagues, players and stadiums separate from FIFA.

Meanwhile, FIFA responded by stating that it was currently engaging with "various industry players, including developers, investors and analysts."

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