Cristiano Ronaldo’s name will be hitting all major headlines across the world for days to come. The 33-year-old Portuguese forward has completed a sensational — and surprising — summer move from Real Madrid to Juventus in a deal worth $131.5 million (€112m/£99.2m). Ronaldo, who’s signed a four-year contract that will keep him at the Old Lady until 2022, has called it time on a career-defining era at Madrid. Los Blancos’ former talisman — it sounds strange to say that now — ended a nine-year stint that will see him enshrined alongside club legends like Luís Figo, Zinedine Zidane and Raúl. Ronaldo’s list of accomplishments with Madrid, to name a few, includes two La Liga titles, two Copa del Reys, four Champions League medals and becoming the club’s all-time record scorer (making a complete list of his achievements would keep anyone preoccupied). The only thing that would shadow Ronaldo’s transfer, ironically, would be if fierce rival Lionel Messi announced that he was leaving Barcelona this summer.
The new dawn for Ronaldo has a major impact for EA Sports in the upcoming FIFA 19, too. Ever since it was revealed at E3 last month, EA made it clear as day that the Champions League would be at heart of the latest installment in the popular soccer franchise. Like most football teams, the Champions League was the sought-after prize for FIFA fans, especially as EA’s main rival, Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer, held the licensing rights for the last decade. Following the end of the PES publisher’s partnership with UEFA in 2018, EA rightfully pounced on the opportunity to acquire the license and ushered in a new era for the FIFA series.
Is The Journey Over for Ronaldo?
FIFA 19’s reveal trailer focused entirely on the Champions League, showing off Ronaldo in his Madrid colors. It was a match made in heaven for EA. Madrid lifted their thirteenth Champions League title after defeating Liverpool in this year’s final and became the first club to win the competition for three consecutive seasons in a row. As previously mentioned, Ronaldo has four Champions League honors to his name at Los Blancos, but his other win with Manchester United in 2008 makes him the only player in history to have an unprecedented five winners’ medals. It was only fitting that Ronaldo and Madrid were at the heart of marketing FIFA 19’s prized possession. With Ronaldo’s departure from Madrid, however, it leaves EA in a position where it must change its strategy in the promotion of the Champions League. Of course, EA will continue to use the most successful team in the competition’s history, but the five-time Ballon d’Or winner won’t fit into the marketing campaign as EA had originally envisioned.
FIFA 19 will see the return of its popular single-player story mode, The Journey, but even that will face the full brunt of Ronaldo’s transfer. First introduced in FIFA 17 and subsequently returning in FIFA 18, FIFA 19’s The Journey will have main protagonist Alex Hunter chasing his dreams of capturing the Champions League. Of course, Hunter’s pursuit for the competition takes him to Madrid where he befriends the one and only Ronaldo. It’s not surprising that EA planned for Hunter to build a relationship with the most successful footballer the competition has seen (so far), though EA could not have expected a major wrench to have been thrown into its plans. When FIFA 19 is eventually released, it will be a different experience from the initial story conceived. It’s most likely that Hunter will still be destined to head to Madrid, but that close connection with Ronaldo won’t be there any longer.
EA Deals With FIFA Cover Issues… Again
Ronaldo, once again, is set to be on the cover of FIFA 19, but this time he won’t be the lone star. Joining Ronaldo is the talented, but equally polarizing, figure that is Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar. The current cover, however, shows Ronaldo sporting his Madrid kit. It might not be a massive change for EA to make, though, considering cover issues relating to Madrid is something that the publisher has dealt with in the past. When Gareth Bale completed his move to Madrid in 2013 (eclipsing Ronaldo’s record-breaking fee at the time), the Welsh winger remained on the cover of the UK version of FIFA 14. EA simply switched his Tottenham Hotspur colors with those of Madrid’s, but that was a different time. FIFA 19 is always set to focus on the Champions League and both Ronaldo and Madrid’s connection towards it. Now, Madrid has no presence on the front cover (for now at least), but it will be interesting to see if this changes before FIFA 19 hits retailers later this year.
Like most football teams, the Champions League was the sought-after prize for FIFA fans, especially as EA’s main rival, Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer, held the licensing rights for the last decade. […] EA rightfully pounced on the opportunity to acquire the license and ushered in a new era for the FIFA series.
It’s still surreal to think that Ronaldo is no longer a Madrid player. It was going to happen at some point, but not many soccer fans could have expected it to happen now and for his next chapter to take place in Italy. The implications of the move are still being felt across the soccer world and bleeding into the gaming one, too. It won’t be too much of a bother for EA to alter Ronaldo’s in-game stats or move him from Madrid to Juventus, but it is his close connection to Madrid and the Champions League that is a major blow for FIFA 19. There is no doubt that FIFA 19 will be undergoing significant overhauls ahead of its release, but Ronaldo’s transfer will have a lasting impact on EA’s position for the rest of its marketing campaign.
FIFA 19 is slated for release on September 28 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. For more on this year’s installment, check out Hardcore Gamer’s interview with FIFA 19 supervising producer Andrei Lăzărescu and creative director Matt Prior.