It’s been revealed that FIFA could have ended up belonging to PlayStation instead of EA in the 90s, if it wasn’t for the fact that Sony decided to turn down the rights.
In an interview with Time Extension, EA's former vice president of European marketing, Tom Stone, stated that prior to the renewal of the FIFA license in 1997, he had a meeting with Chris Deering, who served as the president of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe at the time. At this point, Deering told him that Sony had been offered the rights by ISL (who dealt with FIFA licensing back then), which Stone was “really cross” about - the deal had apparently been offered without EA knowing.
"Chris Deering met with me and said, ‘We’ve been offered the rights to FIFA Soccer'. I said, ‘You have got to be effing joking. Seriously? ISL has approached you and asked if you would like an exclusive worldwide license for FIFA? After everything we’ve done for them?’” Stone said.
However, Deering told him that he wouldn’t agree to the offer: “Chris said to me, ‘I will not sign that deal unless you can’t come to terms with FIFA. That’s your deal. You created that.’”
Stone speculated that Deering had likely considered how much support EA gave PlayStation when coming to the decision to turn it down.
Decades on, it’s impossible to know for sure how things would have gone if Sony had a different opinion on the matter. In the same interview, Stone expressed that he thought “EA would have responded quite badly” had PlayStation accepted the deal.
The latest entry in EA Sports’ soccer series, EA Sports FC 24, was released at the end of last month on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, and PC. It marks the studio’s first soccer game since its split from the FIFA name and branding.
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Catherine is a News Writer for TechRadar Gaming. Armed with a journalism degree from The University of Sheffield, she was sucked into the games media industry after spending far too much time on her university newspaper writing about Pokémon and cool indie games, and realising that was a very cool job, actually. She previously spent 19 months working at GAMINGbible as a full-time journalist. She loves all things Nintendo, and will never stop talking about Xenoblade Chronicles.