2K Games announced a deal with the NFL today to release a number of new football games in the coming years, with the first slated to launch sometime next year.
It’s not at all clear what these new NFL games will consist of. “The games will be non-simulation football game experiences,” 2K stated in its press release. That suggests the games will be steering clear of the formula honed by the Madden series, but who knows what genres or twists 2K’s NFL games will be exploring instead. Management sims? Visual novels? A JRPG?
There hasn’t been a major rival to EA’s Madden series since back in 2004 when ESPN 2K5 released at less than half the price of Madden NFL 2005. As a result of that competition, EA went on to sign an exclusive license deal with the NFL. In 2014, EA CEO Andrew Wilson told Polygon “we still have a number of years left on our agreements there.” That agreement is currently set to expire at the end of 2022.
But 2K has shown hints of wanting to break back into the world of football, including when it put a football mini-game in 2018's NBA 2k19. Whatever its upcoming NFL games turn out to be, hopefully they aren’t plagued with NBA 2K’s terrible microtransactions.
Update, 8:53 a.m.: EA released its own statement about the newly announced deal stressing the terms of its exclusive license:
“EA Sports is the exclusive publisher of NFL simulation games, and our partnership with the NFL and NFLPA remains unchanged. Our agreements have always allowed for non-exclusive development of non-simulation games on various platforms.”