GAMING BLEND

NFL Is EA Exclusive Until 2013

By Pete Haas 2008-02-12 10:48:57 discussion comments
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Electronic Arts has extended its exclusive rights agreement with the National Football League and its Players Association for three more years. The agreement, which gives EA the sole right to produce games depicting the NFL, was set to expire next year but will now last until the 2012/2013 season.

The exact amount EA paid for the extension, or the original 2005 agreement, has not been revealed. In an interview with Kotaku, EA Sports president Peter Moore wouldn't comment on whether EA was looking to make a similar agreement with the NBA. He did, however, note that "The deal we had with the NFL it was instigated by the NFL, it wasn't EA going after them."

Which is true. As noted in a CNN article in 2004, the NFL actually put out an open call for bids on the exclusive license in the spring of that year. In other words, EA isn't trying to build a monopoly on certain sports so much as professional sports organizations are trying to sell them one. It's an important distinction. EA's not the only one making a buck here.

There was no mention in the interview of the rumor EA is also seeking the license for NCAA basketball. Many believed their pursuit of the license had scuttled 2K Sports' College Hoops 2K9, the planned next installment of their college basketball series, last month. If EA is in fact in negotiations with the Collegiate Licensing Company for the NCAA basketball rights, it's possible these talks were postponed until they had finalized their extension with the NFL. Could an announcement about an NCAA basketball exclusivity deal be coming soon?

This upcoming year marks the 20th anniversary of the Madden franchise. Moore mentioned that EA Sports wanted to utilize the NFL license beyond just that series. It wouldn't be the first time they've attempted to do so. In 2006 they released NFL Head Coach, a strategy game that allowed players to step into the shoes of an NFL coach. Though the execution was sloppy, the game had a great premise. They haven't announced any sequels but I'd love to see them revisit the concept. Moore mentions fantasy football in the interview, but you can already hold a fantasy football draft in Madden and run a franchise with the handpicked roster. I'm not sure what else you could do with fantasy football in a video game setting.

Unless, by "fantasy football", Moore meant some kind of supernatural variation on football. Fun fact: Electronic Arts was the publisher/developer of Mutant League Football for Sega Genesis. What about a new installment of that game featuring radioactively mutated versions of current NFL players? Since that game was released in 1993, there hasn't been a single sports video game involving killing the ref or throwing explosive footballs. Fill the void, EA, fill the void.
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