EA Sports FC is the brand new football series coming from EA, with FIFA 23 marking its final entry in that franchise. No, we're not on a wind-up: FIFA 23 really is the end of the line. Its replacement won't be here until late in 2023, but even so EA has already shared details surrounding some of its licenses. What will this fresh start mean for Ultimate Team, women’s squads, Creation Centre, and other in-game features? Below we take a speculative look, in your EA Sports FC guide.
Why has EA switched from FIFA 23 to EA Sports FC?
EA’s licensing agreement with football’s governing body FIFA ends after the 2022 World Cup, which takes place in Qatar from November 21 to December 18. Strong rumors suggested that FIFA wanted $1 billion dollars across four years to renew the license. EA feels such money can be better invested in gameplay and other features. Hence the breakaway. It’s the end of a relationship which began with FIFA International Soccer on the Mega Drive, back in 1993.
EA Sports vice president David Jackson insists that the switch won’t be detrimental for long-time devotees. “In terms of things that they'll miss, players will notice only two things: The name and a World Cup piece of content every four years,” he tells the BBC. “Outside of that, very little will change about the things they know and love about the current FIFA products.”
What is the EA Sports FC release date?
EA Sports FC is a long, long, long way off. EA still has to release its final FIFA collaboration, FIFA 23, later this year. Yet there’s a familiar pattern to the company’s launch dates that means we can pinpoint a release window, despite it being more than a year away.
Ready? Good. So, FIFA 20 came out on September 24, 2019. FIFA 21 dropped on October 9, 2020 [slightly delayed due to the pandemic]. And FIFA 22 launched on October 1, 2021. By following that pattern, we can predict that the first-ever EA Sports FC game will launch in either late September or early October of 2023.
What EA Sports FC licenses are confirmed so far?
We are in the club.More information in July 2023.#EASPORTSFC pic.twitter.com/ZrsABMu1tZMay 10, 2022
EA has announced that EA Sports FC will contain more than 30 leagues, featuring over 700 teams. It’ll have at least 19,000 players, and 100 stadiums. Competitions confirmed so far include the Champions League, Premier League (England), Bundesliga (Germany), and La Liga (Spain).
Eight individual clubs have confirmed their involvement in EA Sports FC, despite the distant release date. Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Toronto FC and Austin FC have all shared tweets committing themselves to the series, and promising more info to come in July 2023.
When can we expect the first EA Sports FC trailer?
Those tweets mentioned above are a giveaway. Liverpool, Man City and Real Madrid can’t all be wrong, surely? The first trailer and other confirmed details for EA Sports FC are coming your way in July 2023.
Will we still see EA Sports FC Ultimate Team?
Oh yes. The IP for Ultimate Team belongs to EA alone, and FIFA has no claim to it. Hence it appears in other EA games, such as Madden 22 and NHL 22, since it debuted in FIFA 09. FUT made $1.62 billion in revenue between March 2020 and April 2021. It’ll be front and center of EA Sports FC for many years.
Even so, EA is likely to want to make a major statement with Ultimate Team in its first post-FIFA outing. Expect spectacular changes and upgrades. We’re talking new card types, and hopefully clearer pack probabilities. Controversy has stalked the FIFA series, with accusations of Ultimate Team promoting gambling, for more than half a decade. This reset is a real chance to win fans over, with full clarity on your chances of packing a particular player or club item.
EA Sports FC also offers the chance to widen its appeal to female gamers, and broaden its suite of women’s teams in the game. In fairness it was a trendsetter in this regard, introducing international teams back in FIFA 16. This could be the perfect opportunity, therefore, to finally include a female version of Ultimate Team.
Could we see EA Sports FC NFTs?
Another hot topic, but for now EA is staying away. Don’t expect EA Sports FC to feature NFTs.
“Collectability will continue to be an important part of our industry and the games and experiences that we offer our players,” said EA boss Andrew Wilson in a February investor call. “We want to deliver the best possible player experience we can. And so we’ll evaluate [the inclusion of NFTs] over time, but right now, it’s not something that we’re driving hard against.”
What might we see in terms of EA Sports FC features?
In the wake of the EA Sports FC announcement, I wrote a detailed piece on how it may differ from FIFA 23.
The key piece of intel we have so far is a quote from EA Sports vice-president David Jackson.
“At the moment, we engage in play as a primary form of interactive experience. Soon, watching and creating content are going to be equally as important for fans,” he says. “Under the licensing conventions that we agreed with FIFA ten years ago, there were some restrictions that weren’t going to allow us to build those experiences for players.”
The two especially intriguing words there are ‘watching’ and ‘creating’.
One thing we’ve never been able to do in FIFA games is watch real football. Jackson’s quote suggests that may change. It’s natural to wonder whether EA may bid against the likes of Sky and Amazon for live matches, although these are a midfield. For instance, you can view Premier League matches kicking off at 3pm on a Saturday in most parts of the world - but not in their home country England. So finding a uniform broadcast model in-game would be tough. Regular highlights packages of football across the globe might be achievable, though. It’s a tantalizing thought.
There’s more of a precedent for Jackson’s hint regarding creativity. In FIFA 11, EA launched a Creation Centre which enabled the community to make its own teams and players in an online browser, then import them into the games. Four million were built in the first year alone, but the feature never made the leap from PS3 to PS4, or Xbox 360 to Xbox One. Fans haven’t stopped clamoring for its return, though. With EA able to sit its own rules rather than placate football’s governing body, we may finally see Creation Centre return in EA Sports FC.
Does EA Sports FC mean there won’t be a FIFA 24?
Amazingly, no. FIFA has already released a statement to confirm that the FIFA series will continue, under the helm of a developer other than EA. Not only that, it’s switching to a non-exclusive model which means different dev teams working on an assortment of titles under the FIFA banner. The first of these is a non-sim game, to be released following the Qatar World Cup.
"I can assure you that the only authentic, real game that has the FIFA name will be the best one available for gamers and football fans,” says president Gianni Infantino. “The FIFA name is the only global, original title. FIFA 23, FIFA 24, FIFA 25 and FIFA 26, and so on - the constant is the FIFA name and it will remain forever and remain THE BEST.”
His capital letters, not ours.
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