FIFA 21

Electronic Arts’ FIFA series could be heading for trouble as footballers are reported to be planning an objection to the use of their likeness in the popular football video games series.

Electronic Arts’ FIFA Series Facing Image Rights Row

The Athletic report that Gareth Bale and former Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic have asked for the issue of likeness being used in the franchise to be investigated. Player discontent is reported to be growing and it is felt that the likenesses used have been done so without proper permission from the players themselves.

Image Rights and Football

Image rights are part and parcel of football and all major sports around the World. From football boots to names on shirts, you name it and somewhere a professional footballer will have an image rights deal in place.

As graphics in video games have developed to a point of almost photo realism, player likenesses are often indistinguishable from their real life counterparts.

EA’s Franchise at Risk?

Electronic Art’s FIFA series is over 20 years old but in recent years the company have started to receive criticism for the lack of new features in the game. One thing that is guaranteed every year is that there will be a FIFA title from Electronic Arts. But little has changed in recent editions. The FIFA Ultimate Team is a huge cash cow where players can add to their squads to create an elite team. The micro transactions earned EA $1billion in revenue in 2019 which led to a legal challenge being mounted as it is claimed the FUT mode amounts to gambling.

FIFA also have stopped making ‘new’ FIFA games for the hugely successful and popular Nintendo Switch. They have instead released legacy editions for the past two seasons whilst still charging full price. The games have no new gameplay modes and no new features other than updated kits and player names.

A challenge from superstar footballers could put pressure on Electronic Arts although the company have fired back saying that they have an agreement with AC Milan, the club that Ibrahimovic plays for, meaning they can use his likeness.

This is one report that looks likely to run and run and one that Last Word on Gaming will be keeping a close eye on for further developments.

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