There will not be competition in the field of simulation football video games for at least a few more years. The NFL, which is shut down during the pandemic, announced Thursday that it has extended its exclusive licensing agreement with Electronic Arts for the Madden NFL franchise. The Players Association also is part of the agreement. The deal means that for anyone wanting to play a simulation football game that features real NFL teams and players, Madden will be the only game in town until at least 2026, Polygon reports. Deals the NFL had struck with two other companies for nonsimulation games had led to speculation that another player might be allowed to compete with Madden, adding a choice for consumers.
The extension of the 30-year partnership is partly about "the creation of new avenues for our fans to connect with the sport they love," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. DeMaurice Smith of the Players Association said, "We have a shared vision to expand the fanbase of football through interactivity." The game is being played more often during the pandemic, per AP; some Madden tournaments have been televised. The current edition is a hit overall, posting a 30% increase in unique players, and the company said it's been played for more than 330 million hours since it hit the market in August. Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes is on the box of Madden NFL 20. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore's quarterback, has said he's on the cover of the edition due out in August, but the company hasn't confirmed that. (Read more Electronic Arts stories.)