Beady-eyed football fans will likely have spotted the launch of EA Sports FC’s new branding in stadiums around Germany, England, and Spain over the weekend. The launch comes after EA Sports and FIFA announced last May that they would be ending their 30-year partnership. This was reportedly due to a failure to agree on a licensing deal, with rumours of FIFA asking for a billion-dollar sum. At the heart of three decade tie-up was the bestselling EA Sports FIFA game franchise, which proved so successful that, for many audiences, FIFA is now more synonymous with the video games than the footballing organisation itself.
The game became so culturally prevalent that it has been used to host a spate of campaigns over the years. In the UK alone, these include Stevenage Town FC’s tie-up with Burger King and FIFA, or the option to now play as Wrexham AFC, which would normally be unavailable as a national league side if it weren’t for the club’s multi-year partnership with EA Sports – another clever move by the club since it was bought by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.
It has also been used to create awareness and change when it comes to important causes with real-world implications. Kiyan Prince, a promising young QPR footballer who was killed at the age of 15, was included as a virtual player to raise awareness of knife crime and the charitable work done in his name. Campaigners have also been behind the gradual introduction of women’s clubs to the video game, in line with rising interest in women’s football.