Last month, Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) announced its world-famous football games will move forward under a new EA SPORTS FC™ brand in 2023. This marks the end of its long-term partnership with FIFA, reportedly due to increased licensing fees.
Charlie Dundas, Managing Director at YouGov Sport, explores how EA Sports brand perception has been affected by the biggest break-up gaming has seen in years...
The end of EA SPORTS’ decades-old partnership with FIFA has been the talk of the town in gaming circles. Expectedly so, given that the partnership yielded one of the most successful gaming franchises ever.
We dove into YouGov data to reflect on the standing of the FIFA franchise among gamers in the UK and to get a sense of how fans in one of the franchise’s most important markets have responded to news of the split.
Using YouGov BrandIndex, we can examine the impact that key events have on brand perception, and it shows that news of the break-up doesn’t yet appear to have had any telling impact on consumer sentiment towards EA SPORTS among British gamers. Gamers in this piece are defined as those who play video games for at least an hour per week across any device.
EA SPORTS’ Impression score declined by 3.1 points on May 10, which is when the news became official, but has remained steady ever since, growing slightly to 6.3 as of May 17. Impression score is a net measure of the volume of consumers that have a positive impression of a certain brand against those that have a negative one.
A look at the Quality score reveals a similar outcome, with figures dropping by 2.1 points on May 10 but recovering to 11.2 by May 17.
The data suggests that gamers are not (yet) particularly concerned about the consequences of the split, which will mean that games in future years will be launched under the EA SPORTS FC banner rather than the existing FIFA one. EA SPORTS vice-president David Jackson told BBC that the split from FIFA gives EA SPORTS the freedom to build a "brand for the future".
Even so, the move does represent some risks given the sheer size of the FIFA franchise. According to our Current Customer rankings, FIFA is the most popular gaming franchise among gamers in Britain. One in nine British gamers say they have played a version of the FIFA game (11%).
Moreover, a third of Brits who have bought from or subscribed to EA SPORTS in the last 12 months say they have played FIFA (33%). It will be interesting to track how EA SPORTS FC retains this significant part of its consumer base once it has parted ways with FIFA.
YouGov Profiles allows us to take a closer look at the other titles popular among FIFA players Britain. Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto are played by just under a fifth of them (17%), making them the most-played franchises among FIFA gamers. Assassin’s Creed, Super Mario Bros. and Fortnite come in next with 7% of FIFA gamers playing these titles.
Which other publishers do FIFA players in Britain subscribe to or buy from?
While EA SPORTS moves in a different direction with its football gaming experience, FIFA has made clear its intentions to continue to leverage its brand name in the gaming industry.
As FIFA looks at publishers to partner with, we cast a glance at the other publishers existing FIFA players subscribe to or have recently bought from.
Nintendo tops the Current Customer list among those who play FIFA games in Britain (14%), closely followed by Xbox Game Studios (12%). A tenth of them are customers of Ubisoft and Rockstar games (10%). Other than Rockstar games, 2K Games is the other Take Two-owned publisher on the list, but the company’s CEO said in an interview with IGN that “FIFA has a great brand and incredible clout, but we have no current plans to discuss”.