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 flesh-and-blood fictional soccer manager from the popular Apple TV+ sports comedy series “Ted Lasso,” played by Jason Sudeikis, but the digital avatar of the AFC Richmond gaffer playable in career mode in “FIFA 23,” which launched on the month of September.

Players have chosen 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 win was with a record 10.3 million users who bought and played the game in the first week after its public appearance on September 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” club section), along with unlockable content from the show and other characters from the series, including Roy Kent’s Jamie Tartt , Dani Rojas, Sam Obisanya, and Isaac McAdoo.

Ted Lasso himself, of course, in the headlines. So how and why did Electronic Arts end up putting its characters and teams in the game?

Obviously, the football connection makes immediate sense, but working together requires negotiation and technological effort. That can often be a complicated and slow process, but it’s at least a little sped up because both parties are interested in getting it done.

“We’ve always been 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 the actors in the show were fans and played FIFA. There is definitely a passion on both sides that makes both groups want to work together.”

The idea to include the show’s characters and content in the FIFA game began with the goal of including it in “FIFA 22.” It took longer to physically realize it because Electronic Arts has a production and development cycle for how it builds games, and a specific window in pre-production of what will be built into a title 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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When the time is right, it’s not a particularly onerous project to integrate a TV show into a video game.

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

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

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

Voice actors are not included. So no Roy Kent profanity in an “E” rated game.

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

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

Sudeikis did offer a statement via Electronic Arts when the “FIFA 23” deal was announced: “I’ve been really lucky, and very grateful, to have had many special moments in my career so far, and I consider this experience to be one of the best of them. , a longtime fan of EA Sports’ “FIFA”, when Ted Lasso and the entire AFC Richmond squad were included in the latest version of the game was 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 major changes: This year’s game will be the last to use the FIFA name in the title before switching to “EA Sports FC” next year due to a dispute licensing.

EA has published FIFA games since 1993 and reportedly 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. It is estimated that over 150 million people play this game in over 200 countries.

How has it performed so far? In addition to the game’s 10.3 million first-week users — the best 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 really strong engagement,” Weber said.

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Mat Piscatella, a top video game industry analyst at The NPD Group, is not sure what kind of sales or game impact “Ted Lasso” had on “FIFA 23” because no detailed data or research is 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 estimate of what the title means as a whole,” he said. “It’s off to a great start, as are many other big games coming out right now (it doesn’t hurt that the competitive window for games is pretty light this year) — but it’s too early to really tell otherwise.”

Will Ted Lasso and other characters return in the next edition of EA’s football franchise?

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

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

Andrew Webster at The Verge wrote positively about playing “Ted Lasso” content, putting AFC Richmond in Major League Soccer and dominating America’s top league clubs. His only complaint is the lack of dialogue which limits how much the spirit of the show comes into play.

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

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 characters’ personalities, not their names,” wrote Luke Saward at, noting that the inclusion of fictional grounds 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 division of women’s football in England (Barclays Women’s Super League) and France (Arkema Division 1).

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The upcoming men’s and women’s FIFA World Cups will be part of the game as free downloadable content coming soon. 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 promo character) is a charming American Division II college soccer coach who is hired on the show by the new owner of a fictional Premier League soccer club to get rid of her cheating ex-husband. team owner, because Lasso had no knowledge of the game, and he thought his incompetence would destroy the club. Instead, Lasso proved charming — and the show quickly became a streaming 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.

The inclusion of the “Ted Lasso” character in the game is part of Electronic Arts’ broader strategy to combine pop culture and entertainment sharing with its video game library as it seeks to grow users and build fiscal 2022 revenue of $7.5 billion.

“We very much see EA Sports at the heart of sports culture and fandom,” Weber said. “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 be the centerpiece of an upcoming Paramount+ comedy film called “Football Fantasy” in which a player’s daughter discovers she can control him on the field using the “Madden NFL 23” game. It premiered on Nov. 25.

With Marvel Entertainment, Electronic Arts has put star players in superhero costumes 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 has not revealed details yet.

“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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