Fifa game successor EA Sports FC set for kick-off

“Fancy a game of Fifa?” A question that has been asked by millions of people to friends and family across the world for nearly 30 years.

Later this year, however, that question will be rephrased as Electronic Arts (EA), the developer behind one of the most successful franchises in gaming history, moves on to its new football game, EA Sports FC.

Although no gameplay will be available to see until July, the work of trying to encourage Fifa’s estimated 150 million players to switch has started already.

The new game’s logo has been displayed on advertising boards in Premier League grounds and EA has also unveiled its FC Futures programme, which it says will support grassroots football projects across the world.

Fifa International Soccer was the first game in franchise history – released in 1993
David Jackson, EA Sports FC’s vice-president of Brand, told the BBC this is “the right time for us to create our own narrative and be able to craft our own future”.

Leaving behind a recognisable brand is a risk in any industry, especially so in gaming where name recognition and brand loyalty are particularly pronounced. The key will be ensuring players realise what is changing but, perhaps most crucially, what is not.

Mr Jackson emphasised that more than 19,000 footballers, 700 teams and 30 leagues will still be represented in the game, despite the split from football’s governing body.

“We have to continue to show people that certain things will also be retained around the realism they know and love from a Fifa series,” he said.

“That will stay with us as we transition from Fifa to FC, but players should also expect for things to change and innovate as well.

“People should expect to see some exciting developments now we have the opportunity to think expansively about the future of interactive football.”

Simon Cardy, senior editorial producer at games website IGN, has reviewed many Fifa games over the years and thinks the challenge will be informing more part-time players.

“For the core player base I think they’ll be fully aware of the rebrand,” he said.

“It’s the more casual video game fan, or let’s say, a less clued-in family member looking to get their family member a new game as a present, that may find themselves confused over the coming months. It will be interesting to see how EA market the game on a broader scale without using the acronym Fifa.”

Listen to BBC Sounds podcast Press X to Continue discuss the future of Fifa the game

FC Futures is a programme linked to the new game that is funding real-world pitches, like this one in east London. It is also a way for EA to raise awareness of the new brand in local communities
EA is still making content for the current and final version of Fifa, so will not reveal any details about the new game until July.

“We appreciate people wanting to know more and there will be a lot more news to come. We would love for people to feel confident in what we will be delivering,” said Mr Jackson.

“For now though I think the most important thing is we are listening to players. and working with our partners to deliver on realism and authenticity.”

EA says fans can expect features like Ultimate Team, Career Mode and Pro Clubs to continue.