Further tightening its stronghold on all things related to video game football, Electronic Arts made the surprise announcement today that it has acquired the exclusive rights to the NFL teams, stadiums, and players for use in its video games. Through deals with both the NFL and Players Inc., EA will control the license for the next five years.
In addition to these cosmetic aspects, EA also has exclusive rights for online console features in its football games, as well as access to NFL Films and the NFL Network for the company's titles, which includes the Madden
, NFL Street
, and Fantasy Football
franchises. However, EA is not limited to the above franchises in the use of the NFL licenses; the deal also allows EA to develop new football titles using the assets if it chooses. The one facet the deal seems not to cover is web-based or mobile games, such as titles for cell phones.
With Take-Two's recent announcement
that the company was considering raising the price of its ESPN Football
line again, after some successful cut-price competition with the Madden
series earlier this year, it looks like EA's sales slip of 2004 is something the company is determined to never let happen again.
In fact, now this presumably massive financial deal now in place, further Visual Concepts-developed, Take-Two/Sega published football titles will not be allowed to use any 'name' players or teams, likely rendering them a much less potent competing force, despite a competitive graphics and gameplay engine. Should Sony or Microsoft decide to resume their own sports line after this year's hiatus, they may also have an uphill fight on their hands.