FIFA will be looking to further boost the virtual side of its business and e-sports.
Last year brought with it historic health and economic crisis that affected most activities. Soccer was no exception and, as part of its latest annual financial report, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) reported unfavorable results on almost all fronts except one: Video games. Soccer had to come to a complete halt during the first few months of the pandemic and although competitions have resumed, the impact of the suspension of events and the lack of spectators has taken a scandalous toll.
But video games like FIFA 21 not only kept going, they thrived during this difficult period. Of the $266 million in revenue reported by the international body for the year, $158.9 million came from product licensing. And, more specifically, from video game licensing. This according to the insidethegames.biz portal.
“A key source of revenue in the area of rights licensing was the licensing of video game trademarks,” FIFA explained. “In contrast to many economic sectors that were dramatically affected by COVID-19, the video game industry proved to be much more resilient to the pandemic,” it continued. “In addition to the FIFA eClub World Cup, the FIFA challenger Series and the FIFA eNations StayAndPlay Friendlies, FIFA also launched the FIFA Continental Cup.”
“Also, 2020 saw the birth of FIFA, a new esports brand designed to create an important stage for players, clubs, and nations,” the body adds. Implicit in this is the importance, not only of the games themselves but of e-sports. Let’s not forget that many leagues turned to video games in the absence of traditional activities.
All in all, 2020 was a catastrophic year for FIFA, which reported losses of $778 million, bringing the organization’s reserves down from $2.59 billion to $1.88 billion. With that in mind, it is not surprising that FIFA president Gianni Infantino was a big booster of e-sports during the most recent session of the International Olympic Committee, where Infantino promoted the marriage of technology, society, and sport, and welcomed accelerated investment in virtual sport formats that would resonate with young audiences.
FIFA, a gold mine for video games
The world of sports licenses is tremendously complex and in addition to Electronic Arts‘ game, there is also Football Manager and Pro Evolution Soccer. That said, it is EA’s game that year after year imposes the most outrageous marks in terms of sales.
To go no further, FIFA 21 was the best-selling game in Europe during 2020 and set new milestones by becoming the first game in the series to take the top sales spot in the United States during October last year, a market dominated by Madden and NBA 2K.
That said, one might wonder what proportion of the aforementioned revenues corresponds to the organization of electronic competitions and what percentage corresponds to commissions from game sales. What does become clearer with this data is why some players are demanding a bigger and bigger piece of the video game soccer pie.