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The NFL and 2K Are Back Together, 'Non-Simulation' Games Will Release Beginning in 2021

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2K Sports

The NFL and 2K Are Back Together, 'Non-Simulation' Games Will Release Beginning in 2021

The era of NFL 2K5 feels like an eternity ago, but there’s still plenty of people who remember that game. This makes the news of 2K and the NFL agreeing on a new licensing contract that much bigger. To be clear, there are some caveats with this agreement, but the major point is that 2K and the NFL have come to terms on a “multi-year partnership encompassing multiple future video games,” according to 2K.

These games are slated to release starting in 2021, and it sounds like it will certainly end up being multiple NFL-branded titles.

But is the NFL 2K so many remember fondly coming back quite yet? No, it does not seem that way according to a press release sent out by EA Sports that states:

“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.”

The idea of what “simulation” entails is up for some debate, but the point is it’s likely we see more “arcade” style games from 2K at least at the start. I say at least at the start because as far as we know the current agreement between EA and the NFL expires after the 2021 NFL season (so early 2022). Now, there’s no reason to believe the NFL and EA could not once again come to an exclusive agreement, but 2K is getting its foot in the door in the meantime.

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David Ismailer, president of 2K, also went on to describe what these games might be at a high level.

“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.

There are a lot of questions here in terms of what these games will look like and what platforms do they end up on as we head towards next-gen, but it’s exciting to see football games expanding. We had heard rumors about 2K and the XFL, but it seems like those rumors were perhaps always about this licensing deal instead. Lastly, one could read Ismailer’s final statement as a sign that 2K will not just be stopping with expansion in the NFL.

“We’re growing our sports offerings and building on our core games with new IP, as well as continued support of award-winning franchises, all with the goal of giving our fans more amazing games and entertainment for years to come.”

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We’ll have plenty more about this in the days ahead, but even with the caveats mentioned, this has been a big last six months for sports games. Between this news and the news that The Show will be multi-platform, it signals contraction may finally be over for now in the sports genre. We’re getting noticeable expansion and that’s surprising as usually console switches are when we have lost the most sports games. Hopefully, this trend continues and we slowly start to see these major sports organizations making it more feasible and less expensive to make more sports games for the masses.

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