2K Games has inked a deal with the NFL Players Association and OneTeam Partners that will allow the game maker to feature the real names, numbers, images and likenesses of more than 2,000 players in its future games. The agreement follows 2K’s deal with the league itself to create an officially licensed, non-simulation football game, expected to arrive in 2021, that could take on EA’s Madden franchise.
“We want to give fans experiences that are authentic, memorable and fun, and having a roster of real-life sports heroes through the Players Association and OneTeam is a huge part of delivering on that promise,” said David Ismailer, President of 2K.
OneTeam Partners, the NFLPA’s group licensing representative, negotiated the deal. “Sports video gaming is a massive growth category, and the partnership between the NFLPA and 2K presents an opportunity not only to excite current gamers but also reach untapped future audiences,” Ahmad Nassar, CEO of OneTeam Partners, said. “Our role is to bring together strong collective rights that can be supported by the most innovative and creative businesses, benefiting all stakeholders. We are pleased to be a part of this important partnership.”
While a simulation style football game attempts to emulate an authentic NFL experience, non-simulation games often feature cartoonish figures, over-the-top graphics and unrealistic game play. And 2K has considerable experience with both. Outside of their NBA 2K simulation basketball game, which has sold 12 million copies, the company has also released NBA 2K Playgrounds, an arcade-style basketball game that features funky animation, exotic dunks and flashy dribble moves. However, it’s been a little more than two years since the last 2K Playgrounds game was released. And there are no signs of another on the horizon.
2K won’t be able to compete with EA Sports on the simulation football game front until 2026, when the NFL’s newest exclusive rights partnership with EA, signed in May, expires. Despite this, the NFLPA remains excited to see what 2K will create.
“2K has a proven track record of high-profile and successful business relationships with other sports leagues, professional athletes and their collective fans,” said Steve Scebelo, Interim President of NFL Players Inc., the marketing and licensing arm of the NFLPA. “The label makes some of the best sports video games in the world, and we look forward to working with 2K, our players and OneTeam on future projects.”