Fifa, soccer’s global governing body, is set to adopt a new approach to its esports and gaming activities, following a strategic market assessment.
The body, late last week, said that it is now engaging with industry stakeholders, including developers and investors, to create a long-term view of the gaming and esports sector with a view to ensuring it builds a range of suitable partners.
In a statement, Fifa said that following a “comprehensive and strategic assessment of the gaming and interactive entertainment market”, it is set to “adopt a new commercial positioning in gaming and esports to ensure that it is best placed to make decisions.”
Fifa has said it is “bullish and excited about the future in gaming and esports”, and that technology and mobile firms “are actively competing to be associated [with Fifa] … It is clear this needs to be a space that is occupied by more than one party controlling all rights.”
This statement, and in particular the reference to bringing in more than one rights partner, would seem to be another step towards bringing on the end of the relationship between Fifa and game developer EA Sports, which has produced the ‘FIFA’ video game title for the last 28 years.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that EA Sports is considering altering its licensing agreement with Fifa and, in the process, renaming the namesake video game title.
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In a statement on the EA Sports website on 7 October, general manager Cam Webber said: “We’re exploring the idea of renaming our global EA Sports soccer games. This means we’re reviewing our naming rights agreement with Fifa, which is separate from all our other official partnerships and licenses across the soccer world.”
The game developer’s current licensing deal with Fifa, struck in 2013, is set to expire next year.
It has been reported that Fifa has come to the conclusion that it can earn significantly more from its esports and video game licensing agreements than the amount it secures annually from EA Sports and that the gaming sector could secure revenues of up to $1 billion per year for the governing body.
EA Sports still holds similar licensing agreements with other soccer bodies, including Europe’s Uefa, however, and it has been reported that it will simply rename the FIFA franchise and look to introduce new competitions and game formats.
The governing body has, meanwhile, said that the strategic assessment will “ensure that Fifa has a range of suitable parties with specialist capabilities to actively shape the best possible experiences and offerings for fans and consumers.”
It added: “It is of crucial importance for Fifa and its stakeholders to maximise all future opportunities for football and gaming fans.”