In a sudden and unannounced move, video game publisher EA Sports has removed all previous installments in its long-running FIFA football franchise from digital storefronts ahead of the launch of EA FC 24 on October 30th. The FIFA series has been published by Electronic Arts since 1993 but will now continue under a rebranded name following the company’s split from FIFA.
Earlier this year, EA announced it was ending its nearly 30-year partnership with FIFA, the international governing body for global football. This led to a complete rebranding of EA’s football games under the new EA Sports FC banner, with FC 24 being the first entry.
With the release of the rebranded game imminent, the publishers have now pulled all older FIFA-titled games from major digital retailers like Steam, the Epic Games Store, PlayStation Store, and Xbox Marketplace without warning. Franchise mainstays like FIFA 23, 22, 14 and others are no longer available to purchase digitally.
The reason for this sudden removal is not officially confirmed, but speculation points to licensing issues regarding the FIFA name and assets following dissolution of the partnership. However, physical disc copies of the now delisted footy games are still widely accessible at game retailers.
On digital platforms, even searching for the FIFA name prominently displays EA Sports FC 24 instead of past football releases bearing the FIFA branding. It’s a clear effort by EA to establish brand recognition for its new footy franchise unaffiliated with the previous name.
Physical Copies Still Widely Available
Curiously, it appears FIFA 22 and 23 remain playable for subscribers on EA Play and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, though new purchases are restricted. This indicates the removal strictly applies to new digital sales.
For die-hard fans of the FIFA games, this spells the end of an era. But for Electronic Arts, deleting the older games smooths the transition to its rebranded series free of oversight and restrictions. With the football gaming license up for grabs, the publishers are positioning itself to control the pitch moving forward.
The effects on the used physical game market could be interesting to observe. Sports titles typically see severe value depreciation annually upon each new release. Factors like new kits, stadiums and player transfers all play a role in why the new games have to be updated each calendar year. But with digital unavailable, demand for physical copies of the now defunct series may persist.
It marks a dramatic changing of the guard in the world of gaming football. But EA Sports FC 24 kicks off a new tradition this week. The aim is to prove the beautiful game moves forward onto bigger and better things.
EA FC 24 has a release date of September 29th, 2023.
Source – Daily Mail
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