“Madden NFL” franchise developer Electronic Arts will retain the license for the wildly popular simulated football video games for six more years after extending its deal with the National Football League.
The NFL and EA said Thursday the deal will lengthen the publishing and licensing agreement for “Madden” and “keep EA Sports’ ‘Madden NFL’ franchise as the exclusive and authentic football simulation game.”
EA will remain in possession of the “Madden” license and development rights through at least 2026.
The deal will allow EA to develop new games both in the “Madden NFL” franchise and outside it. NFL spokesperson Nick Shook wrote in a blog post the agreement also “pens new avenues for the creation of games in new genres, expanded esports programs and additional entertainment experiences for fans across more platforms.”
EA reported that its latest installment in the “Madden” series, “Madden NFL 20,” has seen its unique player count grow by more than 30 percent from last May — but would not disclose specific player counts. EA added that over 330 million hours of the game have been played since its launch in August 2019, and said fans of the gameplay have watched over 330 million hours of streaming content on Twitch.
In a bid to placate sports fans not getting their daily dose of live athletics on TV, NFL and EA broadcast matches of its “Madden NFL” esport on ESPN, ESPN2 and FS1. A celebrity “Madden NFL 20” tournament held from April 19-26 was also broadcast on ESPN, featuring players like Snoop Dogg and Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock. The programming push reached “tens of millions of fans,” EA said in a statement.
The EA deal is just part of the NFL’s ongoing larger push to dominate the sports video gaming market. In March, the NFL rekindled its partnership with Take-Two Interactive, the owner of game developer 2K, which made the popular “NFL 2K” game series. Under the new deal Take-Two will develop a non-simulated sports game for 2K that will be released sometime in 2021.
“EA has been a trusted partner for more than thirty years and they continue to bring innovation, authenticity and creativity to everything they do and we are certainly a great example of that as evidenced by the huge success of ‘Madden NFL 20,'” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “The expansion of this partnership is not only about the continued success of the ‘Madden NFL’ franchise but also the creation of new avenues for our fans to connect with the sport they love.”