According to a detailed report from unofficial EA website EAHockey.com, the National Hockey League (NHL) and NHL Player’s Association (NHLPA) are continuing to fight over the question of video game licenses.
The NHLPA had previously reached an agreement with Electronic Arts worth $44.2 million over six years. According to an interview with NHLPA executive director Ted Saskin, the deal was, by his understanding, exclusive to Electronic Arts. (The only exception to this exclusivity was hardware manufacturers such as Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.)
However, the deal was unpopular with NHL executives who favored multiple licensees – in particular Take-Two Interactive/2K Sports – and were unhappy that none of the extra revenue would be made available to the league. According to EA Hockey, the NHL then refused to extend its own license to Electronic Arts unless Take-Two Interactive were also granted a NHLPA license.
This threat has apparently been enough to force all parties back into talks, with the league now claiming that a deal involving both Take-Two and Electronic Arts is close to being agreed. "We remain confident we will have a video game category that will have multiple partners supplying software to the new consoles," said Brian Jennings, group vice president, consumer products marketing at NHL Enterprises "We feel pretty confident we have basically reached in-principal understandings."
The situation still seems far from settled though, with Saskin indicating this month that a new deal will only be made if it is beneficial to both the NHLPA and Electronic Arts. "To the extent you wanted to bring in third-party licensees like Take-Two, there would have to be adjustments made," he said. "It would only be in situations that made sense for EA and the players’ association and the category."