When it comes to sports simulators, EA Sports is probably the biggest name there is. And when it comes to football simulators, the FIFA series is considered the best. This is why some fans were a bit shocked to discover that some of the highest-profile players and some of the biggest clubs were missing from the game upon its release. Or better said, were replaced by clubs and players that don’t exist in real life.
The reason, as you might expect, has to do with money – it would’ve probably cost the publisher too much to include them in the tame.
To be able to use the likeness of a real-life thing or person, a video game developer needs permission – and this can cost money. This goes for every branch of the gaming industry, from online slots to football simulators. There are slot machines based on movies, TV shows and real-life musicians at the JackpotCity online casino, and all of them are created based on a license – the game developer, Microgaming in the case of the JackpotCity, strikes a deal with the owner of the intellectual property to get the permission to use it.
The same rules apply to every other video game, including the FIFA series.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the best-known football stars today. The 39-year-old Swedish player has a long and successful career behind him, filled with brilliant goals and dozens of trophies won, not to mention the fact that he is one of the few footballers to have scored goals in each of the last four decades (he started playing in 1999 and he is active to this day).
Last year, Zlatan took aim at the makers of FIFA 21 asking on Twitter “Who gave FIFA EA Sports permission to use my name and face?”, claiming to have been put in the game through some “weird manoeuvre”. And he made it clear that he never gave FIFA permission to make money using his name.
While he didn’t give his permission for the game developers to use his name and likeness, he was included in a deal struck by EA and both major Milan clubs, Inter and AC Milan, for the exclusive use of players, kits and stadiums – and this included Zlatan, too, who is currently Milan’s striker. Still, Zlatan was not happy about it.
Why are some major clubs missing from FIFA 21? Well, because they signed exclusive licensing deals with other game developers and publishers. Serie A side Roma signed a deal with Konami, the developer behind Pro Evolution Soccer, and so did Juventus (Piemonte Calcio in the game), Spezia Calcio, and FC Crotone.
This shouldn’t alter the game’s experience, though – the kits represented in the game are similar to what the players wear in real life, and some real-life players (like Cristiano Ronaldo and Matthijs de Ligt) are still present in the game, even if their current teams aren’t.