EA Sports FC 24 India Pre-Orders Are 70 Percent Lower Than FIFA 23
What's in a name? Everything apparently.
The FIFA series of football games have been a yearly fixture. Like the sun rises in the east and water is wet, you can reliably expect EA to drop a new FIFA game each year. Until of course, it didn’t this year. After an extremely lucrative partnership with FIFA dating back to 1993, EA decided to part ways with the international governing body of the sport of football. Nonetheless, EA’s got a new football game that’s out this week called EA Sports FC 24. While the FIFA games have been the company’s cash cow in India, EA Sports FC 24 appears to be off to a rocky start on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch.
It seems that EA Sports FC 24 pre-orders are 30 percent of what last year’s FIFA 23 had according to multiple retailers and sub-distributors speaking to me on condition of anonymity fearing retribution.
“Our numbers on EA Sports FC 24 are so low that we’re seriously thinking to just double down on Cricket 24 or Spider-Man 2 instead,” says one buyer at a large format chain. “There’s been no support from EA in terms of marketing materials or freebies to make it worth bothering with.”
This sentiment was echoed by several independent store owners across the country. Independent game retailers make up about 50 to 60 percent of physical game sales in India with the rest split between large format retailers as well as e-commerce platforms like Amazon, and Flipkart.
Many point to EA’s lack of communication about the rebrand to the non-hardcore gamers that make up a majority of the sports titles’ audience, leaving this job to retail.
“Customers have come in and bought more FIFA 23 right now instead of pre-ordering EA Sports FC 24,” says one such store owner. “It’s only after we explained to them that this is essentially ‘FIFA 24’ that they convert to pre-ordering. Even then, we’re still 70 percent down on pre-orders for the game versus last year.”
While armchair pundits might chalk this down to simply FIFA 23’s lower price at retail right now, that only tells half the story. Sources tell me EA’s India distributor E-xpress is aware of the dip in pre-orders and has cut its day one quantity accordingly — a tacit admission that the game won’t do as well as it should commercially.
Traditionally, FIFA games move about 40,000 units at retail across all platforms day one with steady sales through the year that put it in line with the likes of Spider-Man and God of War. This excludes digital sales that make up about 30 percent of all purchases. However with EA Sports FC 24 tracking lower sales, it’s likely that it won’t do as well.
This isn’t the first time a publisher has failed its audience. Activision for example, doesn’t have an India presence at all. In fact, the company dragged its heels with choosing a new distributor leading to Call of Duty: Vanguard and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 not releasing in India officially at retail. During Vanguard’s launch, sources in the supply chain tell me that some employees at the company were still fiercely loyal to the previous India distributor, Worldwide CD ROMs and have blocked all attempts at deciding on successor.
At the time of Modern Warfare 2’s release, Indian distributors and Activision felt Rs. 5,999 would be a fair price (for perspective, most games in India sell for between Rs. 3,999 and Rs. 4,999, making this obscenely overpriced).
End result: Indians had to resort to buying the games via the grey market or parallel imports. While week 1 sales were strong at 15,000, total sales at retail have hit around 20,000 at best two months post-launch for each title. And it’s not just India either, there was a distinct lack of a marketing budget for both games for fast-growing markets like the UAE.
“Activision had no presence at retail or onground branding so sales were lower than they’ve ever been,” says one Abu Dhabi-based game store manager. “They seem to have figured out this was important for Modern Warfare 3 so pre-orders are tracking well.”
While Activision can still rely on the Call of Duty IP to pull in an audience, it’ll be interesting to see how EA rebound from this stumble. The publisher used to be the biggest in the country. But with nearly a decade of missteps it appears that India isn’t as big a priority as it should be.
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