To some degree, EA’s exclusivity deal with the NFL is coming to an end. While Madden maintains its status as the exclusive simulation football title, 2K Games is dipping its toes back in the water. Specifically, 2K and the NFL have entered into an agreement that will see 2K release “non-simulation football game experiences.” The projects, which are in early development, will fly under the NFL 2K banner. Interestingly, the first of such experiences is on track to launch within the 2021 calendar year.
2K Games shared the fascinating news in a press release, announcing that “specific game titles, developers, and release dates will be announced at a later date.” According to IGN, 2K’s Senior VP of Sports Strategy and Licensing, Jason Argent, offered the following when asked to clarify what kind of title will launch under the NFL 2K umbrella: “Our goal is always authenticity, depth, fun and as it relates to these titles–approachable and social football experiences. We think this is a good opportunity to service a more casual market, and our research shows there’s an appetite for that.”
NFL VP and Head of Gaming and eSports Rachel Hoagland, noted 2K and the NFL have been talking quietly for the last two years or so. Further, the league’s Senior VP of Consumer Products, Joe Ruggiero, explained this new way forward is a result of the NFL’s desire to expand its presence in the gaming space.
An NFL deal of this kind in gaming hasn’t come to fruition in over 15 years. With the release of ESPN NFL 2K5, 2004 marked the last time a non-EA publisher released an officially licensed NFL project. Late in 2004, EA signed an exclusivity deal with the professional football league, ensuring it as the only game company with the rights to use NFL players, teams, and stadiums.
Social media is already abuzz with guesses as to what this may all entail. Might NFL 2K lead to something more arcade-like, perhaps in the realm of NFL Blitz? With 2K’s project launching in 2021, we’ll know for sure soon enough.
[Source: 2K Games via IGN]