It’s around that time of year again that millions of gamers around the world will be buzzing with excitement for the upcoming release of FIFA 20, a franchise that has confidently surpassed 260 million copies sold in its longstanding reign as the bestselling football video game.
However, if you’re a Juventus fan, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise this year. It was reported last week that Electronic Arts, the multi-billion-dollar developer behind the title, had lost out to rivals Konami in securing the licensing rights to use the Italian club’s name and logo. Konami develops and publishes the game, Pro Evolution Soccer, which was once a major competitor to FIFA, in a rivalry dating back to the mid-90s. Pro Evolution Soccer has always been known to avoid costly licenses for club and player names, and instead opts for alternatives such as “London FC” and “Man Red”, within its football simulation game. In recent years, Konami has also lost its rights to use IP relating to the UEFA Champion’s League, as the Japanese conglomerate has witnessed its once loved title fall from grace, with sales of FIFA likely to reach almost 20 times that of Pro Evolution Soccer worldwide. It doesn’t take an expert to see Konami has struggled to compete against Electronic Arts for quite a long time in the football game world, but could this be a sign that’s all about to change?
The answer is…probably not. Despite the increasing dominance and success Juventus has had in Europe and its National league, it’s unlikely a single club could make a significant dent in FIFA’s hopes to remain at the top. However, shareholders may not be so sure, as the recent announcement hit Electronic Arts share price with a drop by around 3.5%, equivalent to around $750m in value. The chances are the share price will recover, particularly as we reach the release of the hotly anticipated new edition later this year. Although, this impact shouldn’t be ignored, as it indicates the level of realism demanded by gamers that can only be achieved by licensing in various IP rights.
FIFA, which lends its name from the international governing body of football, always prides itself on having rights to almost every club and player, and each year is able to achieve uncanny likenesses when it comes to players’ faces, motions and characteristics. Helped by advancements in technology to improve graphics and gameplay, FIFA fans have grown to expect a certain level of quality and as much incorporation of real-life elements as possible.
It’s clear that investors are somewhat worried that losing image rights to a key club, even though the rights to all the players within the team have been retained, is enough to upset the balance and may encourage gamers to switch to try the rival’s offering. I’m sure this was Konami’s intention and it will certainly make the most of its partnership with Juventus when promoting the 2020 edition.
Do you think Konami should continue the trend and partner with more clubs and players to license in their IP? Or is gameplay more important and that’s what developers should focus their investment on?
Author: Saj Ali, IP Valuation Senior Manager
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