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EA Sports: It's no longer in the game

Game over: EA ends decades-long partnership with FIFA

The silhouettes of attendees are seen standing in front of a Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) logo displayed on a screen during the company's EA Play event ahead of the E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Saturday, June 9, 2018. EA announced that it is introducing a higher-end version of its subscription game-playing service that will include new titles such as Battlefield V and the Madden NFL 19 football game. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

May 10 (Reuters) - Electronic Arts EA said on Tuesday it was ending a nearly three-decade partnership with world soccer governing body FIFA, pulling the plug on one of the world's most successful video-game franchises that has raked in billions of dollars in sales.

Months of tense negotiations between EA and FIFA ended without an agreement to extend a partnership, according to a New York Times report.

EA had signaled months ago that the relationship would end. The company’s current contract was set to expire after the Qatar World Cup, with the soccer body seeking increased revenue, and EA pushing to expand the FIFA brand into new areas such as NFTs and highlights of real games.

FIFA was seeking at least double the $150 million it gets annually from EA Sports, its biggest commercial partner, the NYT reported, adding that there were different expectations of what should be included in a new agreement.

However, both entities have reportedly adjusted to maintain the partnership till the Women’s World Cup next summer.

EA declined to comment on certain details in the New York Times report; while FIFA did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

EA said it planned to launch a rebranded version of the game, EA Sports FC, in 2023 that would have more than 300 licensing partners, including the Premier League, LaLiga and the UEFA.

The licensing deals will help EA retain most of the world’s famous clubs and stars with their teams and leagues, even though the World Cup and other FIFA-controlled events will no longer be included, the NYT reported.

Shares of EA, which is expected to report its quarterly results after markets close on Tuesday, fell 3%.

(Reporting by Tiyashi Datta in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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