In partnership with Altered State Machine, FIFA has released a mobile game called AI League. As one of FIFA’s Web3 ventures, the game is currently in open beta for Android and will soon be available for iOS.
AI League is a casual 4-on-4 soccer game played between AI-controlled avatars where players become the coach and owner of the teams. Players can collect and trade characters to create their dream team with the perfect talent combinations.
This game doesn’t feature well-known stars like Lionel Messi or Christiano Ronaldo. Instead, AI League’s bright-colored avatars resemble the famous video game Fall Guys characters.
Commenting about the game’s objectives, Altered State Machine co-founder Aaron McDonald said, “Our mission is to lead casual gamers into the world of AI gaming in the metaverse, and with FIFA’s AI League, we are unlocking a unique new opportunity for soccer fans around the globe to interact with their favorite sport.”
Currently, the game is free-to-play. However, a representative from Altered State Machine told Decrypt that the game would have an NFT marketplace where the cartoonish characters would be minted into NFTs.
Due to limitations surrounding crypto trading by Apple and Google, the developer decided to go with non-crypto-based in-game currency. Therefore, players can only use in-game money to buy cosmetic upgrades for their characters.
The representative also confirmed that the NFT deployment would come later to ensure a smooth user experience. They see NFT elements could distract players if implemented in the open beta stage.
Despite criticism from gamers, this is a common strategy in the Web3 space. Developers launch games in a traditional Web2 form first without any NFT-related aspect — only to add them later.
FIFA’s last project with EA, future soccer simulation projects
FIFA 23, the final title launched as a collaboration with EA Sports, marked the end of the 30-year partnership after the soccer organization increased its license price demand from $150 million to $250 million.
Another reason for the split between the two organizations was EA’s interest in organizing more esports events and creating NFTs based on the FIFA video game franchise. However, FIFA was concerned that this exclusivity could prevent it from exploring other digital opportunities that might generate even more revenue.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has made quite a bold statement about FIFA’s video game prospects after parting with EA, claiming that FIFA games will stay relevant and remain a favorite for those who enjoy soccer.
“I can assure you that the only authentic, real game with the FIFA name will be the best one available for gamers and football fans,” he said.
The FIFA franchise has played a significant role in the gaming industry for the past three decades. The first game in the FIFA series, FIFA International Soccer, was released in late 1993 to celebrate the World Cup in 1994.
So far, there are only announcements of casual titles with buzzy blockchain elements. That said, FIFA is “engaging with leading game publishers, media companies, and investors concerning the development of a major FIFA simulation soccer game in 2024”.
FIFA has limited options for an alternative license in the soccer simulation market since EA dominates it. However, the AI League serves as a glimpse of what FIFA’s post-EA direction will be and why they were determined to maintain the ability to develop Web3 and metaverse titles.