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The NFL has entered into a new multiyear partnership with video game publisher 2K Games that will encompass multiple upcoming titles. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The partnership returns NFL games to 2K, which is behind the NBA 2K and WWE 2K franchises, for the first time in over 15 years. Previously, 2K published the NFL 2K series from 1999 to 2004. The NFL has had a deal with Electronic Arts’ EA Sports publishing label dating back to 2004, resulting in the popular NFL Madden franchise.
The new 2K, NFL games are described as “non-simulation football game experiences” and specifics on developers, exact titles and release dates are yet to be revealed. However, current projects are already in early development and are slated to launch sometime in 2021.
“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,” David Ismailer, president of 2K, said. “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.”
“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 vp 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.”
2K has seen recent success with its NBA 2K franchise, with its most recent offering, NBA 2K20, selling more than 8 million copies. The game also outsold Madden NFL 20 in 2019, the fourth consecutive year the NBA 2K franchise has done so. WWE 2K20, however, failed to meet parent company Take-Two Interactive Software’s expectations.
On Tuesday morning, EA Sports issued a statement regarding its relationship with the NFL: “EA SPORTS is the exclusive publisher of NFL simulation games, and our partnership with the NFL and NFLPA remains unchanged. Our agreements have always allowed for non-exclusive development of non-simulation games on various platforms. Our commitment to NFL fans, which spans almost 30 years, has never been stronger, and we’re having our biggest year yet. Madden NFL 20 is the most successful game ever in the franchise, and new modes like Superstar KO and our Madden NFL esports broadcasts are growing the fan base. We’ll be building on that momentum with more new and different experiences, on more platforms and with new ways to play, in the years to come.”
Sources familiar with the situation tell The Hollywood Reporter that EA’s deal expires at the end of the 2021 NFL season, in early 2022. Unsurprisingly, multiple parties have expressed interest in the rights and 2K and Take-Two’s new deal shows the company’s high interest in an expanded partnership.
March 10, 7:26 a.m. PT: Updated with EA’s statement.
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