The final edition of EA Sports’ behemoth video game FIFA will drop this autumn, and sadly AS Roma won’t be featured in it.
EA Sports are splitting from football’s governing body after almost three decades in partnership. They joined in 1993 to produce the influential FIFA International Soccer, which became the blueprint for all football games that have followed. The game helped the industry move away from being the domain of youngsters in their bedrooms and bring it into the mainstream, with top stars endorsing products across various consoles. Sadly, AS Roma will not feature in this historic final edition due to licensing issues.
Football video games are big business, and whilst FIFA has dominated the market, plenty of others have thrived without official licenses. In the early days, Sensible Soccer, described by Joe as the most iconic football game ever made, used fake names for players to get around licensing issues, whilst other more modern games don’t attempt to infringe on licensing deals. For instance, Top Eleven Football Manager and Soccer Stars are both games that have been hugely successful on iOS without the need for licensing. Other games don’t have match action at their core and so don’t need licenses; the Gala Spins online slot 11 Champions uses football as its premise but in a different genre of game. Other mobile games have official licenses, such as Football Manager Mobile, putting you in Jose Mourinho’s shoes.
However, the one game that has always won the licensing battle is FIFA. It used its power throughout the noughties to outsell Pro Evolution Soccer, arguably a better game but lost without the official teams. AS Roma fans who picked up PES 2 played as Abruzzi, whilst in the original PES, they were just Roma. It meant fans often turned to FIFA purely so they could be their favourite team, ignoring that PES was the better game.
Things have now turned full circle for a handful of Italian clubs. The final FIFA, due to be released in September, will not feature AS Roma; instead, they’ll be Roma FC, although the players remain licensed. That’s been the case ever since FIFA 21, but this season Roma are not the only Italian club who won’t feature; Atalanta, Lazio and Napoli are not in the game, they’re replaced by Bergamo Calcio (Atalanta) and Latium (Lazio), whilst Napoli’s new name is yet to be revealed. Italian football fans will be able to place as Juventus again after a couple of years of being forced to compete against Piemonte Calcio.
The omission is due to Roma’s long-term deal with Konami, makers of the online-only title eFootball. It was the spiritual successor to PES, but a horrible launch last year has left it with some ground to make up. One weapon in its arsenal is the official licensing with Roma, although they’ll certainly have to work very hard if they’re to turn it to their advantage in a challenging market.
FIFA has been synonymous with football games for thirty years, but FIFA 23 will be the last time gamers get to be their favourite teams under the famous branding. Sadly for AS Roma fans, FIFA 20 was the final chance, and its Ultimate Team servers are no longer populated by players.
Let’s hope eFootball bounces back in 2022, eh Roma supporters?