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EA Sports FC gets release date — and Switch version that might not suck

The post-FIFA era looks like business as usual, with one notable exception

Oli Welsh is senior editor, U.K., providing news, analysis, and criticism of film, TV, and games. He has been covering the business & culture of video games for two decades.

During a starry livestream on Thursday, Electronic Arts announced that the new era of its soccer games — minus FIFA branding, after the publisher parted ways with the sport’s governing body in 2022 — will begin when EA Sports FC 24 is released on Sept. 29.

The release date was widely expected, as an end-of-September berth is traditional for EA’s football games. Indeed, there were few surprises during EA’s official reveal event for the new game. But perhaps that was the point.

Over its 30-year history, the FIFA series became a juggernaut that makes more than $1 billion in yearly revenue from its Ultimate Team mode alone, and EA must be keen to not fix what isn’t broken. So the watchword for EA Sports FC 24 seems to be “continuity.” EA stressed its extended licensing deals with the biggest leagues in the sport, including the U.K. Champions League, Spain’s La Liga, and the UEFA Champions League. Elsewhere, it chose to highlight visual and animation upgrades in a new gameplay trailer.

There’ll be improved representation for women’s football, with women joining men on the pitch in Ultimate Team for the first time. The cover star will be Manchester City’s Erling Haaland.

There’s one area where EA Sports FC 24 will break with tradition, though, and it’s a very welcome break with one of the FIFA games’ worst traditions.

For four consecutive years, EA has released what it calls “FIFA Legacy Editions” on Nintendo Switch — all essentially reskinned roster updates of the Switch version of FIFA 19, with no gameplay enhancements or updates whatsoever. IGN, for one, has been stinging in its criticism of these releases.

EA Sports FC 24 will be different. As detailed by its own trailer, the Switch version moves to the same Frostbite game engine as the other platforms for the first time, and will be much closer to its siblings in terms of features. Switch players will be able to enjoy a less limited version of Ultimate Team, as well as the five-a-side Volta street football mode, along with player and manager career modes.

It seems that the clean slate offered by the change of branding has motivated EA to clean up its act on Nintendo’s console. There are many benefits to EA ditching the notoriously difficult FIFA as a partner; here, unexpectedly, is another.