NFL owners have approved an extension with EA Sports for the gaming company to continue to own the exclusive rights to produce and market NFL action video games through at least the 2025 season with a chance to extend through 2026, as confirmed by league sources to CBS Sports' Will Brinson. Ben Fischer of Sports Business Daily was the first to report that the two sides were expected to agree to a deal.
The "Madden" franchise has been a staple for the league in the gaming world for years, but there was some thought that Take-Two Interactive, which currently produces the popular NBA 2K games, would become a threat to take those rights away from EA Sports, whose current contract expires after the 2021 season. Take-Two did have an NFL 2K game that was in direct competition with "Madden" beginning in 1999 and ran up to 2004 before EA Sports acquired the exclusive simulation rights in 2005.
Rumors started to swirl about Take-Two Interactive's potential rise to unseat "Madden" earlier this offseason when the league announced a licensing agreement with the company to produce non-simulation NFL games. However, a battle for the league's NFL simulation rights likely won't happen until at least 2026.
According to the parameters of this new deal, the possible one-year extension in 2026 for EA depends on the company achieving certain revenue goals.
Of course, Take-Two Interactive could make a football video game at any point. Without having the NFL rights, however, folks couldn't use the image and likeness of Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson or any other player, which does take a hugely attractive (and marketable) piece out of the equation.
This nugget, however, is just a piece of the pie of what NFL owners voted upon on Thursday. As it relates to the on-field, non-virtual product, owners approved three rules changes for 2020,.