EA has released an NHL game for 30 years straight, dating back to 1991. This year’s NHL 21 title was delayed from a usual September release to October due to COVID-19 having slowed progress on the game’s development. Gamers who preordered NHL 21 were rewarded with NHL ’94 Rewind, a remodeled version of the 16-bit Sega Genesis classic.
Both the NHL and UFC game franchises have no competition. The last NHL game made by another studio was in 2011. EA bought publishing rights to the UFC from THQ in 2012, and today’s renewal extends its exclusive rights through 2030.
“EA SPORTS NHL continues to introduce new fans to the sport through its realistic and entertaining approach to the game,” Brian Jennings, NHL chief brand officer and senior executive vp, said in a statement. “The past eight months illustrates how EA is a critical extension to real-world sports, as fans turned to EA SPORTS NHL to play and watch hockey while we temporarily paused during the pandemic. Our shared approach for competitive gaming has enabled the league to create a touchpoint to younger fans who may experience the NHL for the first time through EA SPORTS NHL.”
On the UFC side, the partnership with EA will seek to add new experiences for gamers through enhanced self-expression, game design, visualization effects and more. UFC 4 was released on Aug. 14, timed for the eve of Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier’s heavyweight title fight.
“EA SPORTS has become a natural extension of UFC’s brand and an important way to engage with our fans,” Tracey Bleczinski, UFC Global Consumer Products senior vp, said in a statement. “We’ve just launched our most successful game to date and EA keeps proving there’s room to grow and introduce new fans to the sport. We’re going to keep pushing the boundaries together and make incredible games that UFC fans love to play.”
Both deals come months after EA secured an exclusive multi-year extension with the NFL and the NFLPA worth $1.6 billion, with at least $600 million going to the players’ union. The extension keeps all of EA’s competitors from making NFL-based simulation football games until at least 2026.