Last month Electronic Arts published a public statement claiming that it was reviewing its licensing agreement with FIFA and implying that it could cut ties with the FIFA brand and rename its series, while retaining separate deals for league, player and stadium licensing.
It later emerged that the company has filed trademark applications for ‘EA Sports FC’, which could potentially be the new name for the franchise should it choose to rebrand the series.
FIFA, the governing body of football, later fired back via its own statement, suggesting that it was open to working with new video games companies.
During its latest financial results call on Wednesday (transcribed by VGC), Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick was asked about the EA-FIFA dispute and if the 2K Sports parent would be interested in expanding its football game output, should the license become available.
Currently, Take-Two’s only soccer series is mobile management game Top Eleven, which it acquired along with developer Nordeus this summer.
“We are so thrilled to have Nordeus in the Take-Two family,” Zelnick replied. “They’re just crushing it and Top Eleven is a great, beloved title. I just couldn’t be happier to be in the soccer manager business through Top Eleven with the Nordeus team.
He added: “That’s a big step forward for us… we haven’t been in that sport before. And erm, I think I’ll leave it at that today.”
Take-Two and EA have often competed for major sporting rights. Last year 2K Sports published PGA Tour 2K21, and recently announced a partnership with long time EA ambassador Tiger Woods. EA had previously held the PGA license for 25 years and is planning its own new PGA Tour game next year.
According to a report by the New York Times, EA’s dispute with FIFA is centred around the body’s demands for the games publisher to more than double what it paid previously for the FIFA naming rights in the form of $2.5 billion over the next decade.
FIFA is also said to be keen to limit the extent of EA’s rights, while the games publisher reportedly wants to explore “highlights of actual games, arena video game tournaments and digital products like NFTs.”
In what can only be seen as a direct shot at EA, a FIFA statement read last month: “The future of gaming and eSports for football stakeholders must involve more than one party controlling and exploiting all rights.”
Referring to the potential of working with other developers on games, the statement added: “Technology and mobile companies are now actively competing to be associated with FIFA, its platforms, and global tournaments.”