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Thursday, December 7, 2023

RIP FIFA: EA trademarks EA Sports FC

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Last week EA announced, in that insouciant way only mega-corporations can, that maybe it had had enough of paying FIFA, the football world governing body, in order to call its own games FIFA. “As we look ahead, we’re also exploring the idea of renaming our global EA SPORTS football games,” EA Sports Group general manager Cam Weber wrote in a blogpost. “This means we’re reviewing our naming rights agreement with FIFA, which is separate from all our other official partnerships and licenses across the football world.”

Sure enough today comes the news (thanks Polygon) that EA has filed new European trademarks for something called EA Sports FC. These were filed on October 1 with the UK’s Intellectual Property Office and the EU’s Intellectual Property Office for “computer game software”.

The FIFA brand has always been distinct from the vast array of other licenses incorporated into the game, and past EA executives such as Peter Moore have raised the point that EA has arguably done more for FIFA’s image with the success of this series than FIFA has itself. It’s also of-a-piece with other moves being made by EA, such as rebooting and renaming PGA Tour as EA Sports PGA Tour.

So it looks like FIFA 22 will be the last of the series to ship under that name: perhaps. And there are other reasons to consider a name change too: FIFA is big, but this could also be a chance to move away from areas of controversy such as FUT and its player packs, which some consider the epitome of unethical monetisation. EA says kids shouldn’t be spending on them and is obviously toughing it out at the moment but, with various regulatory bodies taking an ever-closer look, perhaps a fresh start might help see the writing on the wall.

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