How Ted Lasso ended up in ‘FIFA 23’ — and then racked up over 1 million wins

Ted Lasso has won over 1 million football matches.

Not the fictional flesh-and-blood football manager from the hit Apple TV+ sports comedy series “Ted Lasso,” played by Jason Sudeikis, but the digital avatar of the AFC Richmond gaffer who can play in career mode in “FIFA 23”, which started in September.

Players have chosen to use the character, who is included for the first time in this year’s edition of the best-selling football video game as part of a partnership with the Emmy-winning show, enough to earn more than a million games with him. , per “FIFA 23” publisher Electronic Arts.

Those achievements are driven by some of the record 10.3 million users who bought and played the game in the first week after its public launch on September 30, the company said.

Also featured in the game is Lasso’s fictional AFC Richmond club and its Nelson Road stadium (in the “Rest of the World” clubs section), along with unlockable content from the show and other characters from the series, including Roy Kent actors. Jamie Tartt, Dani. Rojas, Sam Obisanya, and Isaac McAdoo.

Ted Lasso himself is, of course, the leader. So how and why did Electronic Arts end up with the character and his team in the game?

Obviously, the soccer connection made immediate sense, but making the partnership work required negotiation and technology efforts. It can often be a messy and slow process, but it was at least somewhat speedy because both parties were eager to see it through.

“We’re often fans of each other’s work,” Cam Weber, executive vice president and group general manager at EA Sports, said in a recent phone call. The Athletic. “It was clear that the players on the show were fans and playing FIFA. There was definitely a willingness on both sides that both groups wanted to work together.”

The idea to include the characters and content of the show in a FIFA game started with the intention of putting it in “FIFA 22”. It took longer to physically happen because Electronic Arts has production and development cycles for how it makes games, Weber said, and special windows in pre-production that will be made every year in titles like FIFA. there are, Weber said. So, Ted Lasso had to wait until that content was integrated into the game.

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When the time was right, it wasn’t a particularly difficult project to integrate a TV show into a video game.

“This is the content we’re adding to build stadiums, teams, kits,” Weber said. “This is what we do all the time.”

On the legal side, EA had to make deals with Apple TV, Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment, and the acting talent “Ted Lasso”. Nothing has been disclosed about the contracts.

FIFA producers and developers traveled to London to do facial scans on the “Ted Lasso” set, working around the cast’s production schedule.

The actor’s voice is not included. So there’s no Roy Kent infamy in the “E”-rated game.

A message was left for Sudeikis, who rose to fame with his “Saturday Night Live” and later film and TV roles, through his management.

“He’s a huge fan of the game and was a pleasure to work with,” Weber said.

When the “FIFA 23” deal was announced, Sudeikis made a statement via Electronic Arts: “I’m really happy, and I’m really grateful, that there have been a lot of special moments in my career so far, and I count this experience among them. As a longtime fan of EA Sports “FIFA”, having Ted Lasso and the entire AFC Richmond squad in the newest version of the game is truly a dream come true for me and others.

Tactics like the “Ted Lasso” partnership make sense for EA to keep the franchise fresh as it enters its fourth decade amid a major change: This year’s game will be the last to use the FIFA name in the title before becoming “EA Sports FC”. ” next year due to a licensing dispute.

EA has published FIFA games since 1993 and has reportedly generated over $20 billion in sales making it one of the most successful video games of all time, and the best selling sports game of all time. It is estimated that more than 150 million people play the game in more than 200 countries.

How has it been done so far? In addition to the game’s 10.3 million users in its first week – the best ever for a FIFA game, the company said – its first 23 days on the market saw 15.7 billion minutes with 1.7 billion games played so far with 4.3 billion goals, EA said. said .

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“We had an amazing start and a super strong turnout,” Weber said.

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Mat Piscatella, chief analyst of the video game industry at The NPD Group, is not sure what kind of sales or gameplay impact “Ted Lasso” has on “FIFA 23” because there is no granular data or research available.

“It certainly seems like a very important link, but there’s really no way for me to make any kind of guess as to what that means for the title overall,” he said. “It’s a great start, as are many other great games being released right now (it doesn’t hurt that the competition window for games this year is pretty light) – but it’s too early to really say anything else.”

Will Ted Lasso and the rest of the characters return in future editions of EA’s soccer franchise?

That decision has not yet been made, the company said.

So far, the fantasy content is generally well received by fans and critics.

Andrew Webster at The Verge wrote positively about playing “Ted Lasso” content, until AFC Richmond entered Major League Soccer and dominated America’s top-flight clubs. His only complaint was the lack of dialogue limitations given how much the spirit of the show plays into the game.

“The game does a great job of recreating the looks of actors like Phil Dunster, Toheeb Jimoh, Kola Bokinni, and Cristo Fernández, so that they usually look like they do on the show. I mean, just look at that virtual mustache recreation Check out Jason Sudeikis,” he wrote.

Others have been more critical when echoing that sentiment.

“Just as superheroes are fun because of their powers, not their costumes, ‘Ted Lasso’ is fun because of its characters’ personalities, not their names,” wrote Luke Saward at Screenrant.com. Screenrant.com wrote, noting that the inclusion of fictional grounds means that some real stadiums don’t exist.

The game has 19,000 players, 700 teams, 100 stadiums and 30 leagues. This year’s edition also includes the top divisions of women’s football in England (Barclays Super League of Women) and France (Division 1 Arkema).

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The upcoming men’s and women’s FIFA World Cup tournaments will be part of the game as future free downloadable content. The game is playable on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

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For those unfamiliar, Ted Lasso (originally an NBC Sports promo character) is a charismatic, folksy American Division II college soccer coach who is hired on the show by the new owner of a fictional Premier League soccer club. to cheat on her ex-husband, ex-husband. the owner of the team, because Lasso has zero knowledge of the game, and he assumes that his incompetence will destroy the club. Instead, Lasso proves to be a hit — and the show quickly became a streaming and critically acclaimed hit.

It premiered on Apple TV+ in 2020 and had a second season last year. The third one has been ordered and is in production.

Incorporating the “Ted Lasso” characters into the game is part of Electronic Arts’ broader strategy of combining pop culture and entertainment partnerships with its library of video games as it tries to grow users and top $7.5 billion in revenue. build the 2022 budget.

“We see EA Sports very much at the center of culture and fandom,” Weber said. “We’re looking for more opportunities to tap into pop culture, sports culture and entertainment.”

Along with Nickelodeon, EA’s “Madden” NFL football franchise will be the focus of an upcoming Paramount+ comedy film “Fantasy Football” in which a player’s daughter discovers she can control him on the field using the game “Madden NFL 23.” do It premiered on November 25.

In partnership with Marvel Entertainment, Electronic Arts puts star players in superhero costumes in the new soccer game as part of the FIFA Ultimate Team mode.

Electronic Arts plans to explore more sports-entertainment video game collaborations in the future but has yet to reveal details.

“You’re going to see a lot more in the future,” Weber said.

(Image of Ted Lasso from “FIFA 23”: Courtesy of EA Sports)



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