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FIFA 23: Players say goodbye to the FIFA franchise after 30 years

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FIFA 23: One of the biggest franchises in video game history comes to an end on Friday with the release of…

FIFA 23: One of the biggest franchises in video game history comes to an end on Friday with the release of FIFA 23, the final installment of a soccer game that has fascinated millions of fans for the past three decades. US games maker Electronic Arts (EA) and global soccer body FIFA spent months negotiating the licensing deal that has underpinned the game since its first edition in 1993. But they confirmed the split in May when FIFA said it would seek other partners and EA said it would rebrand its game as “EA Sports FC” starting next year. Follow FIFA 23 live updates with InsideSport.IN

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FIFA 23: Players say goodbye to the FIFA franchise after 30 years

For the final version, EA has included women’s club teams for the first time – albeit only from England and France – several years after it introduced female players. Australian superstar Sam Kerr, who plays in the English league, is on the cover of the game alongside 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 company that analyzes 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. Gamers were less concerned about the company’s fallout and just wanted to play the latest version of the game. Professional eSports players — some of whom earn hundreds of thousands of dollars to play the game — lined up to live stream their first attempt.

“One of my favorite videos ever,” tweeted Donovan Hunt, one of the most successful eSports players, linking to a YouTube video of his first attempt. Swedish gamer Olle Arbin livestreamed his first attempt for 12 hours on Wednesday. Reviewers have been impressed with the game’s improvements in graphics since the last edition, praising additional features such as a “power shot” for adding another dimension to the gameplay.

“FIFA 23 sees the series bow out and gives encouraging signs for the debut of EA Sports FC this time next year,” wrote Ben Wilson at specialist site GamesRadar.

FIFA 23: Players say goodbye to the FIFA franchise after 30 years

The video game industry, estimated to be worth around $300 billion a year, has become increasingly cut-throat in recent years, with the biggest companies buying up many of their competitors. EA had revenue of $5.6 billion last year, making it one of the largest game makers that remains outside the reach of the four giants – Tencent, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.

The end of the deal with FIFA came after the soccer body reportedly raised its demand for licensing fees from $150 million a year to $250 million – bringing the total for the proposed four-year contract to $1 billion. EA loses the right to use the FIFA name and competitions such as the World Cup, but it can still use player names and non-FIFA competitions such as the English Premier League – a key advantage over its rivals.

But the company was already turning increasingly towards club competitions, both on and off the screen. It undertakes a five-year sponsorship deal of Spain’s top flight La Liga next year, for a reported 30 to 40 million euros a year. Newzoo’s Wijman said that “EA Sports FC” has a good chance of success.

“Losing the FIFA brand might hurt EA’s chances somewhat, but they have the game engine, development teams, marketing expertise and branding expertise,” he said. FIFA may struggle to attract potential partners after its reported demand of $1 billion, Wijman said. It would be a “risky endeavour”, he said, “in any case, but especially if you’re competing with EA to build the most popular football game.

FIFA 23: Players say goodbye to the FIFA franchise after 30 years

Follow FIFA 23 live updates with InsideSport.IN

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