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

Ted Lasso has won more than one million football games.

It’s not the real-life soccer manager from the Apple TV+ comedy series “Ted Lasso,” played by Jason Sudeikis, but the digital avatar of the AFC Richmond gaffer in the career mode of “FIFA 23,” which started in September.

Players chose to use the character, included for the first time in this year’s edition of the best-selling soccer video game as part of a partnership with the Emmy-winning game, enough to win more than a million plays with him. , by “FIFA 23” publisher Electronic Arts.

Those achievements are part of a record 10.3 million users who bought and played the game in the first week after its launch on Sept. 30, the company said.

Also in the game is Lasso’s legendary club AFC Richmond and its Nelson Road stadium (in the “World Cup” category), as well as unreleased content from the show and other players in the series, including players Roy Kent, Jamie Tartt, Dani. Rojas, Sam Obisanya, and Isaac McAdoo.

Ted Lasso himself is, of course, a head honcho. So why did Electronic Arts end up putting the character and his team in the game?

Obviously, the ball connection made sense right away, but making the collaboration work required some discussion and technical effort. That would normally be a difficult and slow process, but at least it was sped up a bit because of the willingness of both parties to do it.

“We are often fans of each other’s work,” said Cam Weber, vice president and general manager of the team at EA Sports, in a recent call with. The Athletic. “It became clear that the actors on the show are fans and they play FIFA. There was definitely a passion on both sides that made both teams want to work together.”

The idea of ​​adding players and game content to the FIFA game started with the intention of adding it to “FIFA 22.” It took a long time to make the physical happen because Electronic Arts has production and development cycles in how it builds games, and special pre-production windows for titles to be built. like FIFA every year, Weber said. So, Ted Lasso had to wait until that content could be included in the game.

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Once the timing was right it wasn’t a very difficult project to integrate a TV show into a video game.

“It’s the stuff we’re used to building — adding stadiums, teams, facilities,” Weber said. “It’s a job we do all the time.”

In terms of lawyers, EA had to deal with Apple TV, Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment, and the acting talent of “Ted Lasso”. Nothing was disclosed about the deals.

The producers and producers of FIFA went to London to check the face on the “Ted Lasso” stage, working around the production schedule of the players.

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

The message was left for Sudeikis, who rose to fame with his tenure on “Saturday Night Live” and subsequent film and TV roles, with his directorial debut.

“He’s a big fan of the game and I’m excited to work with him,” Weber said.

Sudeikis gave a statement through Electronic Arts when the “FIFA 23” deal was announced: “I’m lucky, and I’m very grateful, that I’ve had special moments at work so far, and I consider this experience one of ‘a the best of them. , As a long-time fan of EA Sports’ “FIFA,” having Ted Lasso and the entire AFC Richmond team included in the new game is truly a dream come true for me and to the rest.

Tactics such as the “Ted Lasso” collaboration make sense for EA to keep the franchise fresh as it enters its fourth decade at a time of major change: This year’s game will be the last to use the FIFA name in the title before changing to “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 the best. It is estimated that 150 million people and more play this game in more than 200 countries.

How has it worked so far? In addition to its first week of 10.3 million users – the best for any FIFA game, the company said – its first 23 days on the market saw 15.7 billion minutes it has been used to play 1.7 billion games with 4.3 billion goals to date, EA said. .

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“We’ve had an incredible turnout and very strong engagement,” 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 impact “Ted Lasso” has on “FIFA 23” because there is no data or research available. .

“It seems like a good tie-in with a lot of value,” he said, “but there’s no way I can make a guess as to what it means to the topic as a whole. “It’s a good start, as some big games are being released right now (it doesn’t hurt that the game competition window is so light this year) – but it’s too early to say anything.”

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

That decision has not been made, the company said.

Currently, fantasy content is generally well received by fans and critics.

Andrew Webster at The Verge has written well about playing the “Ted Lasso” news, going so far as to put AFC Richmond in Major League Soccer and dominate America’s top flight teams. His one complaint was the lack of discussion limits on how much the spirit of the game permeates the game.

The game does a great job of recreating the looks of actors like Phil Dunster, Toheeb Jimoh, Kola Bokinni and Cristo Fernández to look like they did on the show. I mean, just look at that Jason Sudeikis beard game,” he wrote.

Others have been more critical while agreeing with the sentiment.

“Just as superheroes are great because of their powers, not their costumes, ‘Ted Lasso’ is great because of its characters, not their names,” Luke Saward wrote on Screenrant.com. , noting that the inclusion of fictitious grounds means that real sports fields do not exist.

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 (Part 1 of Arkema).

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The upcoming men’s and women’s FIFA World Cup matches will be part of the game as upcoming 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 (a former NBC Sports anchor) is a charismatic, talented American Division II college coach who is hired on the show by the new owner of the American football team. Premier League regardless of her ex-husband, who was an old man. the owner of the team, because Lasso has no knowledge of the game, and believes that his lack of knowledge will destroy the team. Instead, Lasso proved to be a favorite – and the show became a free-to-play and critically acclaimed show.

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

The introduction of Ted Lasso characters into the game is part of Electronic Arts’ broader strategy to integrate pop culture and entertainment partnerships with its video game library as it seeks to grow users and build ​with a 2022 revenue of $7.5 billion.

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

Through Nickelodeon, EA’s “Madden” NFL football franchise will be the focus of Paramount+’s upcoming comedy film “Fantasy Football” where the player’s daughter discovers that she can control him on the field using the game “Madden NFL 23” . It starts on Nov 25.

Through Marvel Entertainment, Electronic Arts is putting superstar players in superhero costumes as part of the FIFA Ultimate Team mode in the new soccer game.

Electronic Arts plans to explore other video game partnerships in the future but has not yet disclosed details.

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

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



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