NFL, 2K Sports revive video game partnership after 16 years

Games won't directly compete with Electronic Arts' 'Madden' franchise

The National Football League and publisher 2K Sports will partner to create a new line of football video games, reviving their business ties after a 16-year layoff, executives from both entities announced on Tuesday.

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Under the multi-year deal, 2K Sports and the NFL will collaborate on multiple future video game releases, the first of which is slated to launch at some point in 2021. 2K Sports, a subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive, said multiple projects are already in development, but provided few other details.

At present, the renewed 2K Sports partnership will not yield a direct competitor to Electronic Arts’ popular “Madden NFL” franchise. 2K Sports said the games will be “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.

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“Expanding the NFL’s presence in the world of gaming has become a focus for the league as we look to grow the next generation of our fan base and reviving our partnership with 2K was a natural step in that effort,” said Joe Ruggiero, senior vice president of consumer products at the NFL. “2K is a worldwide leader in sports video games, with a proven track record of creating best-in-class and award-winning games and we look forward to sharing more about the projects we are working on with them in the future.”

Financial terms of the NFL’s partnership with 2K Sports were not disclosed. 2K Sports said game titles, developers and release dates would be announced at a later date.

For now, EA Sports’ Madden franchise will remain the only NFL game of its kind of the market.

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Electronic Arts retains exclusive licensing rights for NFL simulation video games through the end of the 2021 NFL season, a source familiar with the matter told FOX Business. Multiple companies other than Electronic Arts have already expressed interest in acquiring those rights.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
EAELECTRONIC ARTS INC.140.81+2.01+1.45%
TTWOTAKE TWO153.91+3.15+2.09%

Video game developer Visual Concepts, then a Sega subsidiary, developed a series of popular NFL games, dubbed the “NFL 2K” series, in the early 2000s. The games sought to challenge EA’s longtime dominance of the NFL video game segment.

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However, the series came to an abrupt end in 2005 when EA reached terms on an exclusive licensing deal with the NFL and the NFL Players Association. The deal granted EA an effective monopoly on NFL games.

Visual Concepts was later acquired by Take-Two Interactive, which established the 2K Games publishing unit. 2K Games titles include the top-selling NBA 2K series, as well as “Borderlands” and “Civilization."

“The NFL is one of the most successful sports brands in the world, known for creating incredible entertainment for fans,” 2K President David Ismailer said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to be back in business with the NFL in a partnership that will span multiple video games centered on fun, approachable and social experiences. It’s exciting to bring together 2K’s expertise in creating award-winning sports games with the NFL’s renowned status as a world-class entertainment and sports organization.”

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