On September 29, Electronic Arts (EA.O) took a bold step into uncharted territory by launching its latest soccer game, “FC 24,” marking the end of a nearly three-decade-long partnership with FIFA. The split with FIFA, which transpired last year amid reports of EA refusing to double its annual payments of $150 million to the global soccer governing body, left the gaming giant facing an uncertain future. The absence of the FIFA tag meant that “FC 24” lacked the visibility and marketing power that the FIFA brand had bestowed upon its predecessors.
The stakes are undeniably high for EA, as analysts estimate that the franchise, including titles like FIFA, accounts for a substantial portion of the company’s sales and its impressive $32 billion market value. The gaming community and investors alike are closely monitoring the fate of “FC 24.” Gamers fear a potential weakening of the franchise, while investors are anxious about how this split might impact EA’s revenue-generating capabilities.
In an attempt to bolster the appeal of “FC 24,” EA introduced new features such as cross-platform play and HyperMotion V technology, which utilizes real footage data to enhance in-game movements. Despite the absence of the FIFA name, “FC 24” managed to retain licenses for most soccer leagues, teams, and players, potentially offering a glimmer of hope.
With a standard edition retailing at $69.99 in the United States and an ultimate edition available for $99.99, EA is hoping that the game’s pricing strategy will attract gamers. Analysts speculate that the split from FIFA might actually benefit “FC 24” by freeing up a larger budget for marketing efforts. Before the split, EA allocated less than 10% of its budget to marketing, a figure that could now double to around 16%, according to Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter. Pachter expressed confidence in the game’s sales potential, predicting only a minor decline, around 5%.
One key factor working in EA’s favor is the enduring popularity of the franchise’s Ultimate Team game mode. This mode, where gamers can purchase card packs to build their virtual dream teams, contributes significantly to EA’s revenue, generating over a billion dollars in sales annually. The success of Ultimate Team has provided a much-needed boost to EA, especially at a time when other games in its portfolio, including Apex Legends, are grappling with the challenges posed by a post-pandemic slowdown.
However, despite the optimism surrounding “FC 24” and its potential to thrive independently of the FIFA brand, the future remains uncertain. The gaming industry is a dynamic and competitive landscape, and EA’s ability to navigate these challenges will undoubtedly shape the company’s trajectory in the years to come. Gamers and investors alike will be watching closely, eager to see whether “FC 24” can live up to the legacy of its FIFA predecessors and secure EA’s position as a powerhouse in the gaming world.