Soccer might be well down the list when it comes to popular US sports, but it is still played the length and breadth of the country.
That will only increase as we enter the winter, with the USMNT featuring at a World Cup finals for the first time since 2014. With that increased exposure will come eager fans wanting to replicate their heroes, and that will lead them to their consoles. It’s the same with other sports, Madden and the NHL franchises are popular every year, and their developers, EA Sports, have a top soccer title on their roster.
It has simply been referred to as FIFA for many years, the acronym by which soccer’s governing body is known. However, The New York Times explains that this year will be the first in thirty that the game shakes off the branding and steps out into the world on its own; this winter, you’ll purchase FIFA for the last time if you wish to replicate the USMNT’s heroics in Qatar. They’re favorites to emerge from their group in the latest Coral odds, with England, Wales and Iran comprising the rest of the roster. Whilst the World Cup will be included in the final FIFA game, FIFA 23, in the future the licensing will also go elsewhere. For the World Cup in 2026, held in the US and Canada, you might need to learn a whole new game, making it more difficult to get out of that group. EA Sports FC, the new name for FIFA, will retain the same game engine but not the licensing for certain tournaments.
The reason EA have ditched FIFA is the cost. The governing body wanted a hike in their fee simply for providing a name, and the gaming giant decided enough was enough. They released a statement stating that their new project would see little change other than their name. “For nearly 30 years, we’ve been building the world’s biggest football community — with hundreds of millions of players, thousands of athlete partners, and hundreds of leagues, federations, and teams,” Andrew Wilson, EA Chief Executive, said. “EA SPORTS FC will be the club for every one of them, and for fans everywhere.”
What are the odds of success for the new title? As we’ve explained, the game engine will remain the same, but those wanting to take the USMNT into World Cup 2026 might need a different title. The player licensing shouldn’t be affected, so whilst FIFA tournaments such as the World Cup will not feature, domestic competitions such as Major League Soccer will. That means soccer fans here in the US will have a reason to stick with EA, even if the World Cup won’t be playable on the platform. Soccer fans have seen this shift beginning over the last few years, with Konami’s soccer title, Pro Evolution Soccer, snatching Copa America away from EA Sports and a handful of other competitions.
The news represents a seismic shift in the future of soccer games after thirty years of a two-horse race between Konami and EA Sports. They’ll still have their titles, but at least one other is in production, backed by big soccer teams such as West Ham United. It seems there is a changing of the guard in the industry, and potentially an outsider is coming in and rivaling the accepted giants of the industry. Wouldn’t it be just swell if the USMNT could do that on the field in Qatar this winter?
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