For sports gamers across the globe, FIFA 23 marks the end of an era; since EA Sports terminated its relationship with FIFA, this will be the last time that the publisher will be releasing a FIFA-branded video game. It’s going out with a bang, however, thanks to a deal with Apple to bring the popular Apple TV+ character Ted Lasso and his fictional team, AFC Richmond, to the newest FIFA.

EA collaborated with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE) to incorporate Lasso, Coach Beard, and AFC Richmond into the game, which EA notes is an example of how the company “continues to blur the lines between gaming, entertainment, and the real world of football.” Along with AFC Richmond’s home stadium, Nelson Road, FIFA 23 players will also see Ted Lasso favorites like Roy Kent, Jamie Tartt, Sam Obisanya, and Dani Rojas.

Ted Lasso (now in production for season three) has struck a chord with audiences around the world and has become enmeshed with popular culture, earning the show a best comedy award at the 2022 Emmys. EA’s decision to incorporate Lasso’s world into FIFA 23 will not only please fans of the show, but it could open the door to a world of EA Sports experiences for a legion of Lasso fans who aren’t currently playing. A broader audience is likely to lead to improved sales – not that FIFA needs much help given that its lifetime franchise sales have eclipsed 325 million units.

That said, there are some aspects of the Lasso integration which could diminish its overall impact. According to The Verge, the humor that’s at the heart of the TV show is simply not present in FIFA 23: “Once the novelty of controlling Dani Rojas wears off, you’re left with a fairly standard FIFA career mode… I wasn’t expecting a full-on Ted Lasso story mode — though some voice acting would be nice — but a few unique lines of dialogue would be very welcome to differentiate the experience. At least let me spit out some tea. Right now, what’s on offer is basically a really nice skin for the standard mode.”

Additionally, according to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, only 14% of Apple TV+ subscribers in the US are fans of the FIFA game franchise, and Apple’s streaming service has a comparatively low penetration rate among FIFA fans, a majority of whom are currently subscribed to platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu.  

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