As Electronic Arts continues to grow its FIFA franchise, the video game developer is extending its partnership with LaLiga, one of the most popular leagues in the game.
The financial terms of the 10-year extension were not disclosed, but the partnership – EA Sports remains the official video games partner of LaLiga – is meant to continuously improve in-game authenticity.
“Maintaining authenticity is critical to us,” said Cam Weber, EA Sports executive vice president and group general manager. “When you look at our strategy and priorities, we make sure we have long-term goals to work and grow the level of FIFA and football everyone loves.”
The most recent iteration of the game FIFA has seen unique players increase 10% year-over-year. Likewise, FIFA content has grown significantly, with 12 billion minutes viewed on Twitch since launch, a 260% year-over-year growth in FIFA content viewership.
A partnership with LaLiga remains an important factor for the game when it comes to fan engagement, with LaLiga clubs making up the majority of users’ favorite teams in 70 countries. LaLiga teams were also used in more than 1 billion matches – 25% of all FIFA matches online have a LaLiga club being used, Weber said.
“LaLiga is a key piece to the game and a critical part, having that exclusivity allows us to have that advantage,” he said.
The exclusivity will allow EA Sports to maintain key aspects of the game, such as player and stadium scans and special league broadcast presentations. While Weber didn’t elaborate on what the exclusive partnership might have in the works for the future aside from the evolution into the next generation of consoles, recent innovations include using EA Sports’ Atmospheric Audio for the league’s television broadcasts in the absence of fans following the coronavirus pandemic. The two partners will also continue to work together on LaLiga’s esports competition, eLaLiga Santander.
“This renewal enables us to grow the reach and popularity of LaLiga to more and more fans around the world that play EA Sports FIFA every day,” LaLiga President Javier Tebas said in a statement. “We have built a collaborative partnership with EA SPORTS for more than 20 years that has seen both organizations become leading international brands. Our new agreement signifies our commitment to maintain this growth and create the best entertainment for football fans worldwide.”
Weber said the partnership includes significant investment from EA Sports, and it’s a broader representation of the company’s deeper commitment to partners like LaLiga and the NFL. Electronic Arts reported $5.5 billion in revenue during its 2020 fiscal year with a portfolio ranging from FIFA and Madden to other non-sport simulation games like Apex Legends and The Sims.
Taking care of partners for EA Sports, including leagues and player associations, is key for developing a dedicated consumer base. LaLiga’s exclusive deal means FIFA is the only game that allows users to play El Clásico, the traditional matchup between Barcelona and Real Madrid.
“It’s a lot of work; there are over 100 licenses in FIFA alone,” Weber said. “It takes a lot of strategic planning, but we take our partners we want to invest in the long term, and it allows us to deliver authenticity with confidence.”