If passed, EA will retain the exclusive rights to produce simulation-based NFL games up to the release of Madden NFL 26 and potentially Madden NFL 27.
Madden’s reign over video game football could stand to last another several years.
According to Sports Business Daily, NFL owners will vote on whether to extend EA Sports’ exclusivity agreement with the league this week as part of the agenda for a now virtual spring meeting. If passed, EA will retain the exclusive rights to produce simulation-based NFL games up until the 2025 season, and could be re-upped for the 2026 campaign should the long-running series meet “certain revenue goals,” according to the report.
In other words, EA will remain in charge of the NFL’s premier game through at least the release of Madden NFL 26, and at the rate things have been going, probably Madden NFL 27.
Senior NFL reporter Albert Breer corroborated the report, and both noted that the extension will include non-exclusive rights to develop arcade-style and mobile games (so the door’s open for another Madden NFL Arcade or EA-produced NFL Blitz).
People have asked if EA Sports’ deal will be exclusive. Here’s the language: “the exclusive right to manufacture, market and distribute NFL-themed realistic action simulation video games”.
Rights are non-exclusive on “arcade-style games, youth games, and casual/mobile games.” https://t.co/mFgxMtBTZJ
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) May 22, 2020
The vote will be coming just over two months after the league announced a multi-year partnership with publisher 2K to make multiple “non-simulation” football games. A return of the beloved NFL 2K series and a true competitor to Madden the move was not. But it is one that will likely bring variety back into football video games, which has been sparse ever since EA got the exclusive rights for Madden NFL 06 and onward.
Madden NFL 21 was officially announced during May 7’s Inside Xbox showcase. The game will be there for the launch of the next-gen consoles this fall, and will follow a Madden NFL 20 that sold well but varied in terms of quality.