EA and NFL Extend Madden Licensing Deal Through 2026

Are you ready for some football? The same football you’ve been playing now since the early 2000s? In the least surprising announcement of all time, the NFL and EA Sports approved an extension yesterday of the video game licensing contract that keeps the long-running Madden NFL simulation series going through 2026, according to a report by ESPN. If you’re reading that now you might also wonder what it means in regards to the news from March that 2K Games is getting back into the football business. Have no fear, Madden faithful, as that pesky keyword of “simulation” is the thing at play here. The separate 2K Games deal hinges on the opposite, which is an agreement that will see 2K release “non-simulation football game experiences.”

The current Madden contract was set to expire this year, potentially signaling the end of a nearly 30-year relationship between the league and EA. The new deal was also approved by the NFL Players Association, so have no fear about if your favorite player–or Tom Brady–will have their real lifelikeness. The report says that talks had been going on for months between the two entities, while VP of the league and head of gaming and esports Rachel Hoagland said: “keeping the Madden franchise at the core of their video gaming strategy was important, especially with the emergence of new platforms and gaming systems.”

At this point, it’s easy to assume that the relationship between the two is so interconnected and symbiotic that splitting would be more work than just hashing out a new deal. After all, it’s hard to not immediately think of Madden at this point when the NFL is brought into a discussion. “EA has done a nice job of ensuring the game matches the experience during a game week. The new technology will allow richer content and add more realism,” said Hoagland.

There you have it: Your yearly, incremental increase simulation football franchise is here to stay for a handful of years more. The latest Madden game was revealed at the Inside Xbox gameplay showcase a few weeks ago.