Best football only with a license? I don’t think you’ll get any more unworldly than FIFA

No question, licenses are important. It’s not for nothing that Konami delivered the best football in the business for at least a decade without even taking a stab at EA’s FIFA series. The fact that they are so important is also the reason why Electronic Arts is only now not renewing the expensive partnership with world football’s governing body. The only competitor lies face down in the grass after years of wrangling (partly through their own fault), the place is finally theirs for the time being. EA “is” football, now in fact.

This is where the habituation effect comes into play. Over the years, the FIFA license has sort of rubbed off on the sports gaming giant, so much so that its football games will remain synonymous with the football circuit even without the four letters in the title. EA’s series will continue to be called “FIFA” among the fans, just like handkerchiefs and kitchen rolls from Aldi will always be Tempo and Zewa as a matter of course. So that leads us to the fact that EA is in such an enviably overpowered position right now that recent comments from FIFA boss Giovanni Infantino seem mighty cute.

The license is everything – until you are the license

Granted, there’s no underdog to cheer for in this budding twist – although even I, as an old PES fan, lean heavily towards EA. But when Infantino says, as it were, that the best football game is only possible with a FIFA license, it not only reveals an unsympathetic overconfidence, but also a ignorance about video games that basically prevents him from achieving what he promises. You don’t just decide to be the top dog and thrive. Not only PES had to experience this (where the actual quality wasn’t even enough), but also EA itself. After all, the mega-publisher has been trying for years to establish a basketball game that can exist alongside NBA2K, or Need for Speed ‚Äč‚Äčinto one Making a racing game that doesn’t look like a bad joke next to Forza Horizon.

But back to Infantino’s quote:

“I can assure you that the only authentic, real game to bear the FIFA name will be the best available for gamers and football fans. The FIFA name is the only global, original title. FIFA 23, FIFA 24, FIFA 25, FIFA 26 and so on – the constant is the name FIFA. It will last forever and will remain THE BEST,” the official says, promising further titles in the series from other manufacturers.

There are worlds between wanting and being able

Of course, this is the usual PR nonsense, so as not to disappear directly into insignificance with one’s brand in this segment. And you can also read it as a promise to make every conceivable effort so that the name FIFA will continue to stand for the best football experience in the future. But he probably would have said it that way. You know, in a way that doesn’t seem arrogant and unworldly in the segment you’re trying to conquer? Then again: What can we expect from an organization that knowingly repeatedly accepts the most horrible violations of human rights for its own pomp and self-adulation?

The phrase ‘dying beautifully’ has never been more appropriate than in PES. What? eFootall? Never heard…

As I said, it’s not necessarily a fight between two sympathizers, Electronic Arts was too uncompromising in dealing with the competition, too greedy with its Ultimate Team microtransactions and finally far too fed up to really get carried away in a playful way. But if FIFA can be given a reality check – if only by recognizing that name doesn’t automatically open all doors – then at least this split wasn’t in vain.

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