NFL owners to vote on five-year extension with EA Sports

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If it’s in the game, it’s in the game. And it’s likely remaining in the game for another seven seasons, at a minimum.

Next week, NFL owners will vote on a five-year extension with EA Sports for the league’s video-game license. Characterized by Albert Breer of SI.com as a potential “ratification,” this implies that a deal has been negotiated between the league and EA, and that the owners at this point need to only rubber stamp the agreement.

The extension for the now-legendary Madden game would run through the 2026 season, making it a seven-year deal.

More than a decade ago, EA Sports beat back significant competition from 2K by buying exclusive rights to the league’s video game franchise. Earlier this year, the league reached a deal with 2K for the production of “non-simulation football video games.” It’s still not clear what that means, and whether and to what it extent it will erode the value of the supposedly exclusive EA Sports license.

EA Sports absorbed plenty of criticism for shutting down the 2K series, which many gamers preferred to Madden. There also have been concerns that the lack of competition has prompted EA to become complacent when it comes to innovating the Madden game.

Many still enjoy the game, especially the “Madden Ultimate Team” option. The MUT feature allows the user to start with a bare-bones roster of current and historical players and through a series of challenges and online matches (and the ever-present “buy stuff” option) gradually improve the team. The only problem is that, with each new edition of the game, the user gets a brand new team, striving to improve from a 59 to a 99 before it’s time to be a 59 all over again.

11 responses to “NFL owners to vote on five-year extension with EA Sports

  1. I hope they don’t extend the relationship. NFL2K5 was the best football game in recent memory, and it was either $20 or $30. Madden hasn’t had a great football game in more than a decade. It’s time to end the EA Sports monopoly.

  2. It’s a shame that this isn’t universally condemned. The NFL is extending a monopoly, and now the past decade has proven that this exclusive license brings all the downsides that led this country to fight against monopoly practices. Competition led to a higher-quality Madden product as well as excellent products from competitors, and now there is a single safe product that is coasting on the lack of competition.

    It’s also worth noting that the Madden Ultimate Team mode is one that rides all the cutting edge abuses of the gaming industry into the “gambling instinct” hardwired into people, especially children and young adults, into sucking disproportionate amounts of money from a small minority of players. Whereas for most of its history video gaming aimed to deliver a product that would involve a single up-front fee (and the product would have to hold up as purchased, usually by being fun to use), many of today’s mobile games and modes such as Madden Ultimate Team are lacking in actual fun but seek to hook those with addictive gambling tendencies into dumping scary amounts of money for what amounts to no-cost digital incremental improvements.

    It’s absolutely nefarious and something the gaming industry is conscious of, which is the perhaps the worst thing about it…they’re doing it on purpose in the name of profits, no matter that it is often damaging to the customers they turn into digital loot box addicts.

  3. I haven’t played video games since about 2005 but competition is always good for the market. I remember it varied from year to year who had the better release but it didn’t allow for companies to get lazy. Seems like they just role out a new game with different names now but I could be mistaken.

  4. Fans want competition!! Fans want options! Madden is horrible and continues produce a horrible product becomes they have zero competition. We want NFL 2K!!

  5. “EA Sports absorbed plenty of criticism for shutting down the 2K series, which many gamers preferred to Madden. There also have been concerns that the lack of competition has prompted EA to become complacent when it comes to innovating the Madden game.”

    Exactly correct on both counts. Madden was a true innovation 25+ years ago, but it has become stale. Exclusivity does nothing to help the end customer. There’s room for more than one studio to produce this game, the NFL to make money, and may the best product win. I believe they call that system capitalism…

    Like most billionaires, capitalism is preferred by the owners when helps them rise to the top and then a switch to socialism through exclusivity and government assistance (stadium construction, monopoly waivers) to keep them there.

  6. The mechanics of the EA game are broken and resemble nothing of a “simulation”. All four major madden tournaments this year were won by a player using a run-only offense. The most recent one was won by using a punter at quarterback the entire game. Oh, and MUT is nothing but a cash grab or a major time sink (your pick).

  7. I love MUT but hate the money grab behind it with paying for packs and also how EA has neglected franchise mode for years now.

  8. Sounds like loot boxes and micro-transactions have infected sports games, too. I play RPGs and ignore those that require you to pay for additional content or features to ‘win’ the game.

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