2K Games announced today that it’s struck a deal to be able to include the names, numbers, and likenesses of actual NFL pros in its upcoming football games.
“We’re thrilled to be working with the NFLPA and OneTeam to bring the biggest and best stars in football to the games we’re working on,” the company’s president, David Ismailer, said according to a press release shared by Game Informer. The deal reportedly includes access to over 2,000 current NFL players who 2K will now be able to digitally render in its revived NFL game series, the first game of which is currently set to arrive sometime next year.
2K and the NFL signed a deal earlier this year to let the NBA 2K publisher start putting out its own football games using the official NFL license. The only caveat was they had to be “non-simulation football game experiences,” so as not to directly compete with EA’s existing Madden NFL series. When it comes to what the precise definition of “non-simulation” is, your guess is as good as mine. Maybe 2K will use real NFL players’ likenesses to make a dating sim or JRPG. Maybe it plans to make a more arcade-y football game that has just enough bonkers mechanics and balancing in it that nobody would confuse it with the hyper-realistic representations EA churns out every year.
One thing remains clear: EA doesn’t plan to give up its exclusive license to simulation-based NFL games anytime soon. The publisher paid an undisclosed amount earlier this year to renew its existing deal with the NFL through May 2026.