On Thursday, it was announced that Electronic Arts (EA Sports), the National Football League and the NFL Players Association had a multi-year renewal to their exclusive partnership for making Madden NFL video games. This deal means that EA Sports will continue making exclusive and authentic NFL simulation games.
“EA has been a trusted partner for more than 30 years and they continue to bring innovation, authenticity and creativity to everything they do and we are certainly a great example of that as evidenced by the huge success of Madden NFL 20,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. “The expansion of this partnership is not only about the continued success of the Madden NFL franchise, but also the creation of new avenues for our fans to connect with the sport they love.”
Madden NFL 20 is the most successful game in franchise history. Per an official press release, unique players have grown by 30 percent year-over-year, monthly average players have reached an all-time high, more than 330 million hours of the game have been played, and over one billion minutes watched on Twitch since launch. Clearly, the game has been very popular for the gamer community.
However, this build of the game came under fire from hardcore players for several bugs within the game. One such animation bug was exploited (among other problems) in embarrassing fashion during the 2020 Madden Bowl. The winner of the tournament, Raidel Brito nicknamed “Joke,” did not attempt a single pass on his way to the championship. In fact, Joke used a punter as his quarterback during the tournament.
After his championship victory, Joke described why he used Redskins quarterback Tress Way to the team’s official website.
“The reason I went with Tress Way is because in Madden, if you have a lefty quarterback, they hand off the ball with their right hand,” Brito explained. “So if I run a halfback dive with a lefty quarterback, my running back is going to take the hand-off to the left. If I have a righty quarterback, my running back is going to take the hand-off to the right.
“Tress Way was the lowest-cap punter who was a lefty, and I wanted to be able to hand the ball off to both sides of the field. So, there were certain runs that I thought were better with a left-handed quarterback, and those were the runs where I would sub in Tress Way and have him at quarterback,” Brito said.
This new contract with the NFL and the NFLPA is very important for the Madden franchise as beginning in 2021 a blast from the past will give them competition in the NFL video game market. Madden will be an authentic simulation for the NFL, but 2K Sports is now back in business when it comes to making arcade football games.
Earlier this year, it was announced that the popular 2K Football had a deal in place with the NFL, but it was not for authentic simulation football. This is likely to be an arcade version of the NFL similar to what we saw in year’s past with games like NFL Street, NFL Xtreme or NFL Blitz. All three of those games were a unique experience, more violent than the simulation games like Madden or NFL Gameday, and the plays were wilder and more extreme.
2K Sports made what many consider to be the greatest NFL game of all time with NFL 2K5 back in 2004. The release was on consoles (Original XBox, Playstation 2) that are two generations behind the current models. It was made over 15 years ago, but it is still fun to play to this day. The mechanics of the game were crisp, and the graphics aren’t bad to this day considering how old the game is. Add in features like “The Crib” and you can see how NFL 2K5 was ahead of its time.
Fans have been clamoring for Madden to have some competition as the game has gotten stale in recent years. The simulation side of things will continue to be exclusively enjoyed by gamers through the Madden franchise, but with 2K Sports back in action there will be new and different football games out there for the consumer.
EA Sports will compete with whatever product 2K Sports brings to the table with their own creativity. EA Sports, the NFL and the NFLPA will partner on innovative new experiences and more ways for fans around the world to connect with the excitement of NFL football. This will include games in new genres with more forms of play and self-expression, available on more platforms, including expanded offerings for mobile players.
Esports will also continue to grow, with increased competitive programs and broadcast content to reach and entertain more fans. This partnership will also focus on design, visualization and development innovations to grow and deepen the world of Madden NFL, impacting how it plays and feels, and how players connect to the world of the NFL as it happens.
This five-year extension with EA Sports from 2021 to 2026 is worth $1.5 billion, with the split being “at least $1 billion to the NFL and $500 million to the players,” reports Darren Rovell at Action Network. On top of the fees EA Sports is paying to the NFL and NFLPA, the agreements include a total of $500 million in “marketing commitments,” according to Rovell.
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