enlarge † Ars Technica’s MS Paint interpretation of what appears to be a final split between EA Sports and FIFA.
EA Sports / Sam Machkovech
Hidden among the usual “this fall” video game announcements is one big change: the liberation of “FIFA” from all future EA Sports products.
On Thursday, Giant Bomb reporter and host Jeff Grubb followed up on an October 2021 report on the trademarked term “EA Sports Football Club,” possibly abbreviated to “EA Sports FC.” Grubb wondered what exactly the EAFC would refer to. EA Sports games are packed with a variety of single-player and online modes, ranging from cinematic story sequences to card-collecting, microtransaction-fueled frenzy. So the trademark can refer to any kind of in-game mode – or the term could have been picked up for non-public reasons.
Around the same time, EA Sports provoked questions on the subject by publicly suggesting on its official blog that it “could rename our global EA Sports [soccer] games.” EA did all this while maintaining its licensing agreements with several football leagues and clubs. This public suggestion could have been made for a number of reasons – perhaps to pressure FIFA itself into yielding to aggressive, expensive licensing requests. lest EA Sports take both its literal and figurative ball and go home. Privately, EA executives told staffers the deal with FIFA was far from fruitful, in terms of holding back potential development and design directions for future games .
Grubb’s Thursday episode of the “Grubbsnax” live stream and podcast saw him claim the rumors were true: “EA Sports Football Club, or EA Sports FC: That’s the name.” After recalling the October 2021 trademark unveiling, Grubb doubled down: “That’s the name…at least as it’s planned now.”
Following FIFA’s Own Trademark Update
Grubb’s announcement came after he discovered that the central FIFA organization had recently revamped its own internal trademarks for the FIFA brand to include “video games” in a way not previously registered. This move alone was not a clear indication of EA Sports’ separation from FIFA, but it does suggest that FIFA as an organization could launch its own in-house developed football game with the FIFA brand. Exactly when that hypothetical game could debut (or if it would resemble EA Sports’ successful and controversial Ultimate Team mode) is completely unclear as of the time of writing.
Grubb also expressed his surprise that EA Sports hadn’t already bothered to announce the name change. He suggested that an announcement and a trailer at this point were “scheduled” in March 2022. With the news cleared up in early 2022, EA will arguably be able to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its football series by the end of 2023 less awkwardly.
EA Sports representatives did not immediately respond to Ars Technica’s questions about the matter.