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EA Sports responds to FC 24 cover art criticism

Negotiating licenses a "quagmire", FC boss says.

A close-up crop of Riquelme, Saka, Drogba, Pirlo, and Leicy Santos
Image credit: EA Sports / Eurogamer

FC 24, the first game from EA Sports since it left the big FIFA licence behind, got off to a slightly awkward start with its first big reveal earlier this week, when its Ultimate Edition cover art took a bit of a ribbing from fans.

There were a few questionable faces in there, admittedly, with Brazilian Womens' legend Miranda looking quietly terrifying up in the top left, and Ronaldino not quite at his best, but the biggest standout was Andrea Pirlo, the iconic now-retired Italian holding midfielder.

Pirlo looks especially out of place because unlike everyone else in the group shot, he's just wearing a plain, unbranded blue t-shirt amongst a sea of official kits. He's also staring blankly into space, leading to plenty of comments joking he looked a little lost.

EA Sports FC gameplay trailer.Watch on YouTube

More interestingly, Pirlo wasn't in the trailer that released alongside the cover's big reveal - including, notably, the group photo of all the other players coming together that's then emulated in the main artwork - leading some to wonder whether he was a last-minute addition.

Talking to Nicholas Wlodyka, senior vice president and general manager of EA Sports FC at an event in Amsterdam, it sounded like the whole thing was a nightmare to pull together.

When I asked Wlodyka if it was a case of the licensing coming in hot, or being difficult to juggle, he said: "You nailed it. In terms of getting 31 players on the cover - each with approval rights - having to negotiate through exactly how they want to appear on the cover, it is a quagmire to pull it off."

Wlodkya said his team knew it would be "super, super ambitious to be able to pull this off", and that sadly he couldn't share any anecdotes on whether Mr. Pirlo had accidentally wandered onto the set.

"I think the biggest thing in and around it - and as you touched on - many people don't realise that to be able to pull together this cast and do all of these individual deals, there's just a tonne that goes into that.

Discussing other FC 24 features which have been in the works for a while, Wlodkya said the cover reveal had also taken a very long time to try and come together.

"You can't pull that off in six months, it's something you have to think about way ahead to be able to pull off."

When asked whether the shift away from the FIFA licence had made things like this more difficult, and whether that meant having to individually negotiate licences with players rather than in bulk, Wlodyka explained there are "always limitations that you have, working with different partners, because of the partners they also work with".

"It's not necessarily anybody being unreasonable - it's just the dynamics of partnerships," Wlodyka continued.

Naturally, Wlodyka was still upbeat about the change in direction after leaving FIFA behind. "What we feel really good about is being able to do new things. I think that's one small example. There's much bigger ones to come."

Last night, EA showed off FC 24's first trailer, gameplay details, and confirmed its September release date. You can expect much more from our discussion with Wlodyka on EA Sports FC 24 very soon.

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