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

Ted Lasso has won over a million football 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 playable in professional mode in “FIFA 23.” Launched in September.

Players have chosen to use the character included for the first time in this year’s best-selling football 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 company said those gains were driven by a record 10.3 million users who bought and played the game in the first week after its Sept. 30 public debut.

The game features Lasso’s fictional AFC Richmond club and its Nelson Road stadium (in the “Rest of the World” Clubs section), showcases unlockable content and other characters from the series, including players such as Roy Kent, Jamie Tartt, Danny Rojas, Sam Obisanya and Isaac McAdoo.

Ted Lasso himself, of course, in the head. So how and why was the Electronic Arts character and his team included in the game?

Obviously, the football connection made sense immediately, but negotiations and technical efforts were needed to make the cooperation work. It can often be a complicated and slow process, but it was at least a little faster because both parties were eager to make it happen.

“We’re often fans of each other’s work,” EA Sports executive vice president and group general manager Cam Weber said on a recent call. Athletics. “It was clear that the actors on the show are fans and play FIFA. There was a desire on both sides to work together.

The idea of ​​incorporating the show’s characters and content into a FIFA game began with the intention of incorporating it into “FIFA 22”. Weber said it took longer to do physically because Electronic Arts has production and development cycles for how games are built, and because titles like FIFA have specific windows of pre-production each year. So, Ted Lasso had to wait until that content was integrated into the game.

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Integrating the TV show into the video game wasn’t a particularly arduous project once the timing was right.

“Adding content that we’re used to building — stadiums, teams, sets,” Weber said. “It’s something we do every day.”

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

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

Actor’s voice not included. So there’s no Roy Kent profanity in the “E” rated game.

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

“He’s a big fan of the game and it’s been a pleasure working with him,” Weber said.

Announcing the “FIFA 23” deal, Sudeikis released a statement via Electronic Arts: “I am truly fortunate and deeply grateful to have had so many special moments in my career thus far. , as long-time fans of EA Sports’ “FIFA”, it’s truly a dream come true for me and the rest of my friends to have Ted Lasso and the entire AFC Richmond squad included in the latest version of the game.

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

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 of all time. It is estimated that more than 150 million people play the game in more than 200 countries.

How has it been accomplished so far? In addition to the game’s 10.3 million users in its first week – the best for any FIFA game, the company says – 15.7 billion minutes have been played in its first 23 days on the market and 1.7 billion games have been played with 4.3 billion goals to date. EA said. .

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

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Mat Piscatella, a top video game industry analyst at The NPD Group, isn’t sure what kind of sales or gameplay impact “Ted Lasso” will have on “FIFA 23” because there’s no granular data or research.

“It certainly seems like a great tie-in with a lot of relevance, but I have no way of making any assessment of what that meant for the overall topic,” he said. “Like most of the other big games being released right now it’s off to a great start (it doesn’t hurt that the competition window for games this year is so light) – but it’s really too early to say anything else.”

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

The company says that the decision has not been taken yet.

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

Andrew Webster of The Verge wrote positively about playing “Ted Lasso” content, leading AFC Richmond into Major League Soccer and on their way to dominating America’s top-flight clubs. His lone complaint was the spirit of the show’s lack of dialogue limitations that it puts 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 almost exactly like they do on the show. I mean, look at that virtual recreation of Jason Sudeikis’ mustache,” he wrote.

While others have echoed that sentiment, they have been more critical.

“Superheroes are fun because of their powers, not their costumes, and ‘Ted Lasso’ is great because of its characters’ personalities, not their names,” Luke Saward wrote on, noting that the inclusion of fictional foundations meant some. There are no real stadiums.

The game features 19,000 players, 700 teams, 100 stadiums and 30 leagues. This 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 free downloadable content going forward. The game will be played on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

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For those who don’t know, Ted Lasso (originally an NBC sports promo character) is a charming, popular American Division II college football coach who owns the team because Lasso has no knowledge of the game and assumes his incompetence will destroy the club. Instead, Lasso proves beloved — and the show quickly became a streaming hit and critical acclaim.

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

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

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

Along with Marvel Entertainment, Electronic Arts has teamed up with star players in superhero costumes as part of the new soccer game FIFA Ultimate Team mode.

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

“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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