The Madden NFL video game series will be the only game of its kind on the market for years to come after publisher Electronic Arts struck terms on a renewed licensing agreement, the league announced Thursday.
EA Sports will retain exclusive rights to publish simulation-style NFL video games, such as the “Madden” franchise, through at least the 2025 season. The agreement could extend through the 2026 season depending on whether it hits revenue targets.
"EA has been a trusted partner for more than thirty years and they continue to bring innovation, authenticity and creativity to everything they do and we are certainly a great example of that as evidenced by the huge success of Madden NFL 20," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "The expansion of this partnership is not only about the continued success of the Madden NFL franchise but also the creation of new avenues for our fans to connect with the sport they love."
The deal’s financial terms were not disclosed. However, the deal was described as “the biggest and widest-reaching gaming agreement in NFL history.”
EA Sports will work with both the NFL and the NFL Players Association on future projects, including new video game franchises and an expanded presence in the growing competitive esports industry. The company has held exclusive rights to simulation-style NFL games since 2005.
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"Building on the most successful year ever for Madden NFL, this is a powerful time for EA Sports to come together with the NFL and the NFLPA in this new wide-reaching partnership," said Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts. "Together, we have a tremendous opportunity to entertain more players through new Madden NFL experiences, games in new genres and on new platforms, esports, and new innovations that will grow fans' love of the NFL around the world."
Prior to the extension, EA Sports’ exclusivity window was set to expire after the 2021 NFL season. Multiple companies were in talks with the NFL about acquiring rights, FOX Business reported in March.
The deal was announced months after the NFL renewed its partnership with rival video game publisher 2K Sports after a 16-year layoff. 2K Sports acquired rights to develop “non-simulation football game experiences.” The video games will feature NFL logos and other intellectual property but won’t replicate actual NFL games in the way that Madden, a full simulation game, does.