Home FIFA touts esports partnership with Rocket League, which isn’t exactly esports soccer

FIFA touts esports partnership with Rocket League, which isn’t exactly esports soccer


  • FIFA teams up with Rocket League for a new esports competition featuring 16 nations.
  • The event is speculative with no set dates or teams; FIFA is asking fans which countries to include.
  • This partnership marks FIFA's first major gaming move since ending its relationship with EA Sports last year.

One year after breaking up a two-decade relationship with EA Sports, FIFA’s rebound hookup in video games is … Rocket League?

Soccer’s global sanctioning body announced it’s teaming up with Epic Games and Psyonix’s popular automobile adaptation of The Beautiful Game under FIFA’s esports initiative. Sixteen nations will be represented in the game, and the corresponding esports competition will duke it out at some point for cash and prizes.

It’s still very speculative. Right now, FIFA is just asking fans which countries should feature in this leg of FIFA’s Esports World Cup. Elsewhere, FIFA is looking to stock a real competition field “based on the number of representatives from each country in previous Rocket League Majors.” No event dates, much less teams nor their seeding, have been set yet.

“This milestone partnership highlights our commitment to evolve our football esports ecosystem,” FIFA said in a statement “and continue to build the biggest stages for all communities to fame their game.”

Very well, but not only is this not a real soccer competition, it’s a video game wherein miniature, radio-controlled cars are playing the soccer. That’s a far cry from the kind of tournaments FIFA would run in partnership with Electronic Arts before those two broke up last year.

Last year, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said the soccer body remained committed to the video game space, and in February, rumors began spreading that 2K Sports, makers of the NBA 2K series, were next in line to make a FIFA-licensed video game.

What that would look like is anyone’s guess. The reason EA Sports could walk away from FIFA and do its own thing is because FIFA’s license was literally only that — a license to use FIFA’s name and marks. Yes, that that includes rights to the World Cup and the Women’s World Cup, but those are quadrennial tournaments most recently staged in 2022 and 2023.

The parts of the series that really drove immersion, from the English Premier League to the national teams for Euro 2024 and even the Ballon d’Or, are licenses FIFA does not control.

Moreover, looking at Konami’s struggles with challenger eFootball/Pro Evolution Soccer, and the overwhelming licensing advantage that EA Sports FC has held over that series for more than a decade, shows that anything resembling a fully featured, licensed soccer video game depends on well more than FIFA’s nameplate.

How is EA Sports’ football game doing without FIFA?

Electronic Arts in January revealed that while “net bookings” — as in the revenue that the company sees from open-ended cash-cow modes like Ultimate Team — increased slightly, actual unit sales of EA Sports FC 24 were down from what they were the preceding year. Naturally, they’re comparing those figures to the sales of a FIFA-branded title in a World Cup year, so they were likely to dip anyway. And either way, the franchise still makes money hand over fist.

In any case, you’re still talking about a game that approximates humans playing football, not automobiles.

Whether the team-up with Rocket League really is a “groundbreaking partnership” as FIFA calls it, or just a tide-me-over until World Cup 2026 forces EA Sports and FIFA back together, remains to be seen.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Owen Good
Gaming Editor (US)

Owen Good is a 15-year veteran of video games writing, also covering pop culture and entertainment subjects for the likes of Kotaku and Polygon. He is a Gaming Editor for ReadWrite working from his home in North Carolina, the United States, joining this publication in April, 2024. Good is a 1995 graduate of North Carolina State University and a 2000 graduate of The Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University, in New York. A second-generation newspaperman, Good's career before covering video games included daily newspaper stints in North Carolina; in upstate New York; in Washington, D.C., with the Associated Press; and…

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