The NFL and 2K agree to a multi-year partnership.

The era of EA having exclusive rights to the NFL and NFLPA licenses has come to an end. For some of you out there, all you've known is Madden. Before EA and the NFL entered into an exclusive agreement deal, 2K used to also make football games. They were good. They were very good. Some would say that they were better than the Madden games and, at least for some people, they're still considered better than current Madden games.

The problem here is that the last "NFL 2K" game was released in 2004 with ESPN NFL 2K5. Ever since, EA has had exclusive rights to the NFL license and the world was a sadder place because of it.

That all comes to an end in 2021. The NFL and 2K Sports have come to a multi-year agreement that allows 2K to make multiple titles. Though this agreement was finalized on March 10, 2020, EA still holds the exclusive rights through to 2021. That means in 2021 we will see NFL 2K21 or whatever it is they may end up calling it.

I'm hesitant to say that it'll be amazing right out of the gate though. A gap of about 16 years is a very long stretch of time, especially when it comes to game development. The last NFL 2K title was released on the PlayStation 2 and original Xbox. By the time 2021 rolls around, we will have the PlayStation 5 and fourth-generation Xbox available. Not only that, but there is no guarantee that the team that made the older titles so amazing are still even working at 2K. You also have to consider that some of 2K's latest sports titles have had a fair number of issues. NBA 2K20 is absolutely filled with microtransaction nonsense and WWE 2K20 is one of 2019's worst games.

"The NFL is one of the most successful sports brands in the world, known for creating incredible entertainment for fans,” said David Ismailer, President of 2K. “We’re thrilled to be back in business with the NFL in a partnership that will span multiple video games centered on fun, approachable and social experiences. It’s exciting to bring together 2K’s expertise in creating award-winning sports games with the NFL’s renowned status as a world-class entertainment and sports organization."
And just how is EA taking the news? They seem to be taking it quite well actually. At least, they seem to be taking it well publicly. EA released a brief statement about today's news.

"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. Our commitment to NFL fans, which spans almost 30 years, has never been stronger, and we’re having our biggest year yet. Madden NFL 20 is the most successful game ever in the franchise, and new modes like Superstar KO and our Madden NFL esports broadcasts are growing the fan base. We’ll be building on that momentum with more new and different experiences, on more platforms and with new ways to play, in the years to come."
Even if 2K doesn't come right out of the gate with a stellar title, the fact that there is once again competition for EA's Madden franchise is a great thing. Competition is great, especially when it feels like the Madden titles have become horribly stagnant over the years.

We hope to have more information on the next NFL 2K title in the next year or so.