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

Ted Lasso has won more than 1 million soccer matches.

Not the flesh-and-blood fictional soccer 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 be played in career mode in “FIFA 23, ” which launched in September.

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

The victories were by some of the record 10.3 million users who bought and played the game in the first week after its September 30 public debut, the company said.

Also in the game is Lasso’s fictional AFC Richmond club 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 Obisania, and Isaac McAdoo.

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

Of course, the soccer connection made sense right away, but making the collaboration work required negotiations and technology efforts. This can often be a complicated and slow process, but it was at least somewhat expedited thanks to both sides being willing to do it.

“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 The athletic. “It became clear that actors in the show are fans and play FIFA. There is definitely a passion on both sides that made both groups want to work together.”

The idea to include the character and content of the show in a FIFA game began with the goal 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 windows in pre-production of what will be built into titles like FIFA each year, Weber said. So, Ted Lasso had to wait until the content could be integrated into the game.

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

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

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

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

The actor’s voices are not included. So no Roy knows profanity in the “E”-rated game.

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

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

Sudeikis offered a statement via Electronic Arts when the “FIFA 23” deal was announced: “I am really lucky and deeply grateful to have many special moments in my career so far, and I consider this experience among the best of them. , as Longtime fans of EA Sports “FIFA,” having Ted Lasso and the entire AFC Richmond squad incorporated into the newest version of ​​the game is truly a dream for themselves and the rest of the fellas.

Tactics like the “Ted Lasso” collaboration 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 switching to “EA Sports FC” next year because of a licensing dispute.

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

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

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

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Mat Piscatella, the top video game industry analyst 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 great tie-in with a lot of relevance, but there’s really no way for me to make any kind of assessment about what it meant to the title overall,” he said. “It’s off to 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 Otherwise.”

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

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

Currently, the fictional content is generally well met by fans and critics.

Andrew Webster in The Verge wrote positively about playing the “Ted Lasso” content, going as far as to put AFC Richmond in Major League Soccer and dominating the American top-flight clubs. His only complaint was lack of dialogue limits how much 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 that they look pretty much like they do on the show. I mean, just look at the virtual recreation of those mustaches From Jason Sudeikis,” he wrote.

Others have been more critical while echoing the sentiment.

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

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 soccer 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 upcoming free downloadable content. The game is played on the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

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For the uninitiated, Ted Lasso (originally an NBC Sports promo character) is a charming, popular American Division II college football coach hired in the show by the new owner of a fictional Premier League soccer club to despite her philandering ex-husband, the former Man. Team owner, because Lasso has zero knowledge of the game, and she assumes his incompetence will ruin the club. Instead, Lasso proves likable—and the show quickly became a streaming hit and critically acclaimed.

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

The inclusion of Ted Lasso characters in the game is part of Electronic Arts’ broader strategy of announcing pop culture and entertainment partnerships with its library of video games as it looks to grow users and build on fiscal 2022 revenue of $ 7.5 billion.

“We see EA Sports at the center of sports culture and fandom,” Weber said. “We were looking for more opportunities to expand our reach in pop culture, sports culture and entertainment.”

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

Working 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 video game collaborations in the future, but is not yet revealing details.

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

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



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