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Gamers to bid farewell to FIFA franchise after 30 years

AFP . Paris
30 Sep 2022 00:00:00 | Update: 29 Sep 2022 22:40:43
Gamers to bid farewell to FIFA franchise after 30 years

One of the biggest franchises in video game history is coming to an end on Friday with the release of FIFA 23, the final installment of a football game that has entranced millions of fans for the past three decades.

US game maker Electronic Arts (EA) and global football body FIFA spent months negotiating over the licensing agreement that has underpinned the game since its first edition in 1993.

But they confirmed the split in May when FIFA said it would be seeking other partners and EA said it would rebrand its game as “EA Sports FC” from next year.

For the final version, EA included women’s club teams for the first time, though only from England and France, several years after it introduced women players.

Australian superstar Sam Kerr, who plays in the English league, is on the game’s cover along with French World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe.

“It is -- and remains -- one of the most popular franchises in all of gaming,” said Tom Wijman of Newzoo, a firm that analyses data on the industry.

The decoupling is risky for both parties, with neither guaranteed success from their new ventures. But analysts say EA is in a stronger position after spending 30 years developing and marketing the game.

The firm said last year that FIFA had sold more than 325 million copies over its three decades -- reportedly generating more than $20 billion in sales.

Gamers were less bothered about the corporate fallout and just wanted to play the latest version of the game.

Professional eSports players -- some of whom earn hundreds of thousands of dollars for playing the game -- queued up to livestream their first attempts.

“One of my favourite videos ever,” tweeted Donovan Hunt, one of the most successful eSports players, linking to a YouTube video of his first try. Swedish gamer Olle Arbin livestreamed his first attempt for 12 hours on Wednesday.

Reviewers have been impressed by the game’s improvements in graphics since the last edition, and praised additional features.