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 has 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 EA and FIFA, 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.