EA Sports and Adidas give four top clubs chance to reach fans on FIFA 18
If you think that EA Sports’ FIFA series is just a meaningless diversion from real sport, or even just a game for teenagers, then think again.
It’s been a while now that the footballing world has taken notice of football games, and more broadly, sport as a whole is starting to see plenty of uses for it. And on Monday, EA Sports, along with Adidas, announced “Digital Fourth Kits” for four of European football’s most prominent football clubs.
Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus sounds like it could be the blockbuster lineup of this season’s Champions League semi-finals. Or it could be a FIFA 18 tournament between you and three of your friends. This time, it’s the four Adidas-sponsored clubs who have been announced as taking part in the EA Sports initiative.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 18, 2017
Most top clubs have three kits every season, and if you’ve ever been on Twitter around the time that kits are launched at the start of every summer, you’ll know just how big a deal this is to quite a number of fans. It’s especially meaningful to those of a younger generation – those who are perhaps the most interested in playing the FIFA series. And so a new fourth strip which is only available on FIFA 18 is really quite an interesting move from Adidas and EA.
It’s an exciting one for all involved, really. For the fans of those particular clubs who happen to play the game, it’s clearly a new feature, and new features are always fairly exciting. But for the clubs and for the game it’s also quite big.
For years now, the authenticity of the game has been one of the biggest selling points of the FIFA series. The game possesses rights to use the names of the players as well as reproductions of kits and stadiums, as well as branding for some of the leagues, so it looks and feels like a real game, especially as though you’re watching on TV. But an actual link between the game and four of the biggest clubs giving the game fourth kits not available anywhere else feels like a significant move.
For the clubs themselves, though this could also be the start of something.
Our first ever digital fourth kit is pure ????
— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) December 18, 2017
Over the last few years, football clubs have begun to see the power in the medium, and have attempted to engage with fans there. It makes sense: if the club’s branding is all over it, and if they already have a presence there, it would make sense that they’d want to have a little bit of control there, too. Some clubs have signed up official FIFA players and attempted to get involved in eSports. Others have gone down the road of producing social media videos of a popular player choosing his dream team and then making that team available online for fans to play against. Now they’ll be able to play in an extra kit.
Whilst this is the first time that a team has gone down the road of exclusive content, it’s not the first time EA Sports have experimented with varied kits. For years, the game has offered fans the chance to unlock retro or special kits for lots of clubs in the game, though it’s never been this exclusive.
The involvement of Adidas and the clubs themselves seems to suggest that this is not just a move that has implications for the game, but that the clubs themselves see this as a something they really want to get involved in. And perhaps that means we’ll see clubs creating more of this sort of exclusive content for games in the future in order to reach more of their fans on a medium they’ve only just begun to exploit in the last few years.
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