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

Ted Lasso has won more than 1 million football games.

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

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

Those wins are some of the record 10.3 million users who bought and played the game in the first week after its public debut on Sept. 30, the company said.

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

Ted Lasso himself, of course, is the headliner. So how and why did Electronic Arts end up putting the character and his team into the game?

Of course, the football connection made sense immediately, but making the collaboration required negotiation and technological effort. This can often be a complicated and slow process, but at least it was sped up a bit thanks to both parties willing to make it happen.

“We’re often fans of each other’s work,” said Cam Weber, executive vice president and group general manager at EA Sports, in a recent call with Athletics. “It became clear that the actors in the show were fans and played FIFA. There was definitely a passion on both sides that made both groups want 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 make it happen because Electronic Arts has production and development cycles for how it builds games and specific pre-production windows of what will be built into titles like FIFA each year, Weber said. So Ted Lasso had to wait until that content could be integrated into the game.

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Once the timing was right, it wasn’t a particularly arduous project to integrate the TV show into the video game.

“It’s satisfying that we’re used to building — adding stadiums, teams, kits,” Weber said. “It’s work we do all the time.”

On the lawyers side, EA had to make deals with Apple TV, Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment and acting talent Ted Lasso. Nothing has been announced about the deals.

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

Actor voices are not included. So no Roy Kent swearing in the “E” rated game.

A message was left for Sudeikis, who rose to fame through his stint on “Saturday Night Live” and subsequent film and television roles, through his management.

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

Sudeikis offered a statement through Electronic Arts when the “FIFA 23” deal was announced: “I am truly fortunate and deeply grateful to have had many special moments in my career so far, and I consider this experience to be among the best of them all. , As long-time fans of EA Sports’ FIFA, the inclusion of Ted Lasso and the entire AFC Richmond squad in the newest version of the game is truly a dream come true for me and the rest of my friends.

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

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

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

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“We’ve had an amazing launch and super strong engagement,” Weber said.

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Mat Piscatella, chief video game industry analyst at The NPD Group, isn’t sure what kind of sales or gameplay impact Ted Lasso has on FIFA 23 because there’s no detailed data or research available.

“It certainly seems like a great link with a lot of importance, but there’s really no way for me to make any assessment of what it would mean for the title overall,” he said. “It’s a great start, as are many of the other big games being released right now (it doesn’t hurt that the competitive window for games is pretty light this year) – 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.

At the moment, the fictional content is generally well recognized by fans and critics alike.

Andrew Webster at The Verge wrote positively about the “Ted Lasso” content play, going so far as to establish AFC Richmond in Major League Soccer and the dominance of American top league clubs. His only complaint was the lack of dialogue boundaries than the spirit of the show makes it into the game.

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

Others have been more critical, echoing this sentiment.

“Just as superheroes are fun because of their powers, not their costumes, ‘Ted Lasso’ is great because of its characters’ personalities, not their names,” wrote Luke Saward at , noting that the inclusion of fictional bases meant some real stadiums were missing.

The game includes 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 Women’s Super League) 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 the uninitiated, Ted Lasso (originally an NBC Sports promotional character) is a charming, popular American Division II college soccer coach hired on the show by the new owner of a fictional Premier League soccer club to abuse former – her husband, ex-husband. the team owner because Lasso has no knowledge of the game and she assumes his incompetence will destroy the club. Instead, Lasso proves captivating—and the show quickly became a broadcast and critically acclaimed hit.

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

Incorporating Ted Lasso’s in-game characters is part of Electronic Arts’ broader strategy of merging pop culture and entertainment partnerships with its video game library as it seeks to grow users and build on its $7.5 billion revenue. of fiscal year 2022.

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

With Nickelodeon, EA’s “Madden” NFL football franchise will take center stage in an upcoming Paramount+ comedy film called “Fantasy Football” in which a player’s daughter discovers she can control him on the field using the game “Madden NFL 23”. Its premiere on November 25.

With Marvel Entertainment, Electronic Arts has put star players in superhero outfits as part of the FIFA Ultimate Team mode in the new soccer game.

Electronic Arts plans to explore more sports-entertainment collaborations in video games in the future, but is not yet revealing details.

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

(Ted Lasso screenshot from “FIFA 23”: courtesy of EA Sports)


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