EA Has The NFL License Secured For At Least a Few More Years

Posted January 28th, 2014 at 2:45 pm


In 2011 the exclusive NFL license with Electronic Arts was extended an additional year taking the deal through what would be Madden NFL 25. Given the lack of any comment from the parties speculation as to what was taking place behind the scenes has naturally occurred and rumors originating from unreliable sources have swirled. The two previous extensions were made two years in advance of expiration yet here only a matter of days remained until it would presumably end.

At some point, without making it known publicly, the NFL and Electronic Arts extended the license though it is not clear whether the exclusivity terms remain the same. On a quarterly investor call today COO Peter Moore responded to a question on the status of the license by saying there are “a couple years left” on the deals with the NFL and NFLPA and that they have a “number of games in development with the NFL”.¬†That probably refers to the different versions of Madden on the various consoles and mobile.

Hopefully EA and the NFL will soon detail whether the terms of the deal have been altered. Given the league’s business strategy leans on exclusivity it’s most likely that remains in place. It’s certainly curious though that EA is not broaching the subject of continued exclusivity.

  • CSaint

    I don’t even think it matters, I mean 2k hasn’t developed a football game in years or any other company for that matter. If someone were to make a football game right off the back I doubt it would be amazing but then of course you would have Keith praising any other football like it’s a god, much like dailey and Live…..

    • Arrowe76

      People don’t realize how much resources it takes to make a successful sport franchise game. 2K managed to do a very good football game a few years back but since they lost the license, they got a really good basketball game and that’s it. It’s like they just don’t have the money to make any other franchise. Or even fix their online problems.

      • Iown You

        Rockstar and 2K are under the same Take Two umbrella. GTA 5 just sold ***30 MILLION COPIES***… ***30 MEEEEEE-LION COIPES***

        Money and resources aren’t a problem. They have plenty and then some.

        • Jay (The Truth)

          That’s a horrible comparison. I know the Rockstar/Take Two situation very well. Comparing them to 2K is just inaccurate. Money and resources are a problem. Rockstar gets whatever resources they want (Exceeding budget more than once) because Grand Theft Auto is one of the three or four biggest brands in the industryband is guaranteed to cross a billion in profit whenever they release one. 2K Sports could never get that type of support from Take Two because there isn’t big profit in sports games.

          • Iown You

            “2K Sports could never get that type of support from Take Two because there isn’t big profit in sports games.”

            That’s laughable. Tell that to the FIFA team as they push 12-14 Million units per year and bring in incredible gains. And tell that to 2K Sports who’s NBA Franchise is America’s highest selling sports franchise averaging between 4 and 5 Million units now and bringing in incredible gains. Also, tell that to EA as they practically built the majority of the success of their entire empire on the sales of Madden between 1988 and 2005.

            … but yeah, “horrible comparison”, lol.

            Just so you know, selling 30 Million copies of a game is a rarity, so a parent company isn’t going to shun every project and developer on their roster just because it doesn’t match their top seller and dev team, especially when the developer in question (2K Sports) has developed a huge seller (NBA 2K) and is in fact the biggest seller in its category (sports) in North America, outselling Madden now.

            Take Two has the means to put money wherever they want. They’ve made sure to keep 2K Sports healthy when it needed it because if you’ve been paying attention you know there have been years where 2K Sports wasn’t too healthy and T2 didn’t let them fall away as many people thought 2K Sports would, and it did pay off despite 2K Sports’ product roster thinning down tremendously.

          • Jay (The Truth)

            By sports game standards, FIFA is doing well, NBA 2K is growing and Madden has been consistent but you’re missing the point. No sports game for what they cost to produce annually is anywhere near games like COD, GTA, Assassin’s Creed, etc profit wise (As evidenced by the need for things like Ultimate Team and VC). Genre has been pushed to a niche realm. I’m not saying Take Two doesn’t support 2K sports at all, but you’re initial premise was that the fact that another game under the parent company sold 30+ million as a basis for why resources were nothing to worry about. Apples and oranges.

          • Keith.

            There were 3 sports games in the top 10 sellers list for 2013. You don’t think it costs EA a boatload of money to actually develop Madden every year, do you? It’s not like they’re building from scratch every year. Most of their budget goes to paying for the exclusive license.

          • Jay (The Truth)

            The game itself? No. But I think all costs combined annually amass a hefty bill. Including the exclusive license, but also marketing, servers, etc.

          • Iown You

            FIFA is doing well by every game genre’s standards. 12-14 Million sales is considered huge in general.

            I haven’t missed the point, I’m saying your point is not as impacting as you’re making it out to be. Everyone knows that annual sports games typically bring in less money than games like GTA, COD, etc. that’s a given. But simply because of that it doesn’t make every other type of game unprofitable by comparison.

            “but you’re initial premise was that the fact that another game under the parent company sold 30+ million as a basis for why resources were nothing to worry about.”

            They aren’t anything to worry about unless T2 decides to go a different way.

            Your initial premise was that Take Two was more likely to allot resources to their biggest selling game, and to that I agree. But to think they wouldn’t accommodate 2K Sports, even though they have in the past, and considering the position and visibility they’ve given the company since NBA 2K has become the #1 Selling sports franchise in North America, is really discounting Take Two’s commitment to 2K Sports. Take Two has put up with a lot with 2K Sports over the years, and it did pay off. If 2K is coming back to football, they won’t be there without Take Two’s help because if/when they go into full production for an NFL game, they’re going to need resources this development team alone couldn’t possibly have to take the game to final by 2015.

          • Jay (The Truth)

            Explained that way, I think I agree.

          • bltzkrieg666

            Your absolutely right Jay. NBA2k, with no competition only sold like 4 million units. The market for sports games isn’t nearly the size of the FPS genre or games like GTA. Sports games are the same year in and year out. You can’t change the sport only how it is presented so there will never be any leaps and bounds made in the sports genre anymore.

          • Skopin

            It’s easy to say that looking solely at the sales numbers between GTA V and NBA 2k14. But you also have to look at development time. GTA IV released in 2008, the same year as NBA 2k9. So Rockstar was working on GTA V for 5 years, while 2k was releasing a game every year. If you add the sales from NBA 2k10-2k14, they’re only about 6.5 million behind GTA V.

        • Arrowe76

          I’m no business expert but I don’t think what Rockstar does has that much influence on what 2k does. Case in point, GTA Online had a few server issues at launch but it got better much quicker than the typical 2K Sports game. My guess is that’s because the publisher who makes the most money has a lot more funds to work with than the publisher who makes less, same umbrella or not.

          If that’s not the case, then I really can’t explain NBA 2K’s online problems.

          • Iown You

            You’re crossing two separate matters:

            1. Take Two directly benefits financially from Rockstar since they own Rockstar, and the same goes for 2K. Rockstar’s success effects the whole the same way 2K’s effects the whole. It’s just the way it works in any situation where there are property owners

            2. The fact that NBA 2K has had issues and GTA got theirs under control is a dev team specific matter. That has nothing to do with resources from the top-down. Those are development issues specific to the teams developing their respective games. However, this in no way means that resources can’t be worked with from the top down. it’s not as if T2 hasn’t done it before.

    • STuDS0N

      Totally agree. I loved the 2k football games but they are so far behind now. I would love to see a new sports developer but they would never be able to get the licenses and couldn’t make a successful game without the license.

      • Iown You

        If 2K is so far behind, then what does that make Madden since Madden is so far behind old 2K Football games in tons of ways?

  • Ryan

    Not buying another game by these PIeces of shit

    • Keith.

      Me either. And with EA reporting another $308 million loss this quarter, it’s not just us — a LOT of other people aren’t buying their games anymore.

      Another year with this type of performance and Andrew Wilson will be out on the street. Another couple years like this, and EA’s assets will be up for sale, just like THQ was last year. They can’t keep losing hundreds of millions of dollars every year forever.

      • hungryandrew

        I hope not, well I like battlefield, lol

    • Casor_Greener

      I told you clowns Pasta was selling you boy snake oil. Madden is it for the foreseeable future. Deal with it

  • Dan

    I’ve almost lost all hope for Madden.

    Madden ’13 made me optimistic but I thought ’14 was a huge step back.

    At this point I just want 2K to get the rights. I know that they did an incredibly shitty job with the MLB 2K series, but I think they would do really well with football.

  • gregg

    With how good Madden has been the last 3 years Im encouraged for the future. Anyone hating on Madden either hasnt played the nextgen version or just will never be ok with it cause its EA. Which is funny cause look how fucked up 2K is now they are way worse.

    • Yausser1017

      Dude I have bought madden every year. There are so many bugs in that game, and it keeps getting worse and worse. Madden 25 is better on current gen, the next gen version is terrible. It looks like a current gen game, but running is terrible.

  • Luke Randazzo

    Truthfully, if there HAS to be an exclusive license I’d rather it be with EA over 2K. I shudder at the thought of VC invading an NFL game.

  • BJ

    That’s a damn shame. I guess ESPN NFL 2K5 scared EA much more that I thought they did. EA is STILL scared to challenge them after all these years. Wow.

  • jr

    Lmao, as you were keith

  • mikemck09

    There goes hope for a simulation football game for the “next couple of years”, greed is the only word that comes to mind when I ask myself, “Why does EA feel the need to sign an exclusivity contract with the NFL?” I mean, we don’t even have an option to buy another title if we want to enjoy football on our consoles. It’s a shame! EA just doesn’t cut it when it comes down to implementing a sim feel into their sports games. Don’t bring up FIFA, I am a fan of the game but you CANNOT call it a sim soccer game.

    • Keith.

      Don’t give up hope. OS Steve asked Peter Moore on twitter if they still have an exclusive, and douche bag said “you know we don’t discuss terms.”

      You know if EA had an exclusive, they’d announce it. The fact that they’re staying mum should give you some hope that the end is near.

      • mikemck09

        Thanks, Keith!

  • jh00

    It’s funny that someone said awhile ago that EA couldn’t afford to extend it. That’s real funny. They have PLENTY of money. They’ll keep extending it cause they are scared of competition. I don’t like it, but I am just being real here.

    • Keith.

      EA just lost $300 million over the last 3 months. And those 3 months included the lucrative Christmas holiday season. You do the math (if you can).

      • And you’re suggesting the losses incurred by the company are due to Madden.

        • Keith.

          Yep. The exclusive license has been nothing but a money pit for them. As you know, from 2008-2012, they lost a combined $2.5 billion. Since then, they’ve cut back DRAMATICALLY on the number of games they’re releasing, yet the huge losses continue. Where else is the money going?

          • Bieberkinz

            I don’t know. Battlefield 4, the development of other games, Sims, etc.

            So basically, game development, marketing, and all the other business stuff.

          • CSaint

            There is this mystical game called Battlefield.

          • Iown You

            EA didn’t pay up to half a billion dollars to hold on to an exclusive to make Battlefield though…

          • Keith.

            Sorry — can’t blame those HUGE losses on BF4. Remember, EA was predicting a $439 million loss coming into the quarter, BEFORE BF4 was released. They thought they had a huge hit on their hands, remember? That’s why Andrew Wilson and co. are staring down all those securities fraud lawsuits — BF4 was supposed to be a big money maker, and it was only after the game released that everything went south.

            Yet, even with all of BF4’s problems, they still managed to “reduce” their loss from guidance down to $308 million. The only constant in the losing equation (2008-2014) is Madden.

          • Luke Randazzo

            Lets also not forget the Medal of Honor series releasing two horrible games in a row and a string of poor Need for Speed games.

          • CSaint

            Breaking news guys according to Iown You and Keith the only money that is used from EA is on Madden. For those of you that don’t understand, this means EA doesn’t fund The Sims, Battlefield, Live, FIFA, or any other games they come up with (which are quite a few). That is all.

          • Keith.

            As recently as 2011, I believe, EA was putting out 30+ games a year. I was surprised when I read that recently, and the same article pointed out they are making something like 10 or 11 titles this year, total. With today’s announced losses, that strategy doesn’t seem to be working out that well for them, does it? The only thing that seems to be working for them (in terms of stopping, or at least minimally slowing, the bleeding), is all of the various “cost reductions,” i.e., employee layoffs, studio closings, etc., we keep reading about on what seems like a monthly basis.

            But if you want to believe that Madden’s not at the root of a lot (if not all) of EA’s money woes, go right ahead.

          • Iown You

            CSaintSwag, don’t put words in my mouth. You know l didn’t say that. This has nothing to do with funding. They’re not building the games you mentioned from the ground up, these are legacy engines, dude. Funding isn’t the main issue at this point.

            FIFA is the biggest selling sports game on the planet. It sold about 12 Million copies so far this year. 12 MILLION. year before that they did 14 MILLION. Are you SERIOUSLY trying to say that somehow FIFA is responsible for EA’s losses? Are you kidding? LOL! FIFA is one of the main reasons EA is even still in business. Granted, they spend more on FIFA’s development than other games, but it’s not even remotely enough to topple profits from 14 Million sales.

            Sims 3 series has sold about 18 Million copies.

            Live is a definite loss, but it’s a small loss for them, and people are claiming (don’t know for sure) it was built off of the Live 10 engine, and if that’s true then they saved a ton right there.

            And despite the troubles Battlefield 4 is having right now, it still managed to sell about 8 Million copies, and BF3 did almost 17 Million copies!

            Now, look, you can say whatever you want about Keith or anybody else, but the truth is the truth. EA was not having consistent loss turmoil until they decided to get the exclusive NFL license, and since then nothing has ever been the same for them. Have they had other big losses? Sure, but the only one that’s remained a mainstay for the past near decade is the one surrounding Madden.

          • Luke Randazzo

            Both Battlefield 4 and SimCity flopped by releasing with horrible online play. Truthfully, it’s franchises like Madden and Fifa that keep EA afloat thanks to their consistent sales. Especially Fifa, every year that game gets incredible worldwide sales.

          • Keith.

            A few years ago, Madden sold 7-8 million copies a year. Now they’ll be lucky to hit 4. That’s hardly the consistency these companies are looking for.

          • Skopin

            They were also developing for older consoles like the PS2, which was giving them 1-2 million units per year until around 2010 (Madden 11). The PS3/360 sales numbers have been pretty consistent year to year, with the exception of 06 and 07, most likely due to new adopters of the consoles.

          • Iown You

            Only reason they even hit 4 Mill this year is because of the PS4/XB1 versions. They needed to be on 4 consoles just to crack 4 Million units, lol.

            That’s just bad.

          • Ryan

            For someone who likes to pretend they’re smart, that sure is a dull assessment of the situation.

            If they were losing money with the license they would have let it lapse a long time ago. The fact that they keep extending it proves it is still making them money.

            It may not be as much as they’d like with the cost of the license, but every year they pump a bunch of money into advertising the game and every time the license is almost up they redo it. You don’t do that for things that are losing you money every year.

            Fact is, Madden is one of their most consistent franchises and likely one of the few things staving off them going under.

            They have a bunch of other games that aren’t making up for production and advertising costs and if they can’t get a few hits in the next few years they may go under. That’s about the only thing you’re “right” on.

          • Keith.

            Nonsense. EA’s kept extending the license thus far because they know Madden would suffer Live’s fate if 2K (or somebody else) were allowed to compete. Once Madden goes under, EA’s not far behind.

          • Skopin

            I don’t know what the actual numbers look like, but I just can’t imagine that they are actually losing money with Madden. If that was the case, it would be smarter for them to just let the license expire and stop making the game. If it really is hemorrhaging money and not turning a profit, they wouldn’t keep making it. At least not rationally. No money is better than negative money.

            Does anyone know how much they are actually paying for the NFL license?

          • Keith.

            It’s called a loss leader. Like best buy or walmart selling CDs for $8.99 back in the day, just to get you in the door. Look at the emails from Pecover — EA knew that if they didn’t bottle up the exclusive, they’d be toast.

          • Skopin

            But it’s not really leading to any other sales for them, which is the sole purpose of a loss leader.

          • Keith.

            Which is why it’s a complete loser for them. You don’t lose $300 million during Christmas, and $2.5 billion between 2008-2012, because the exclusive’s a big winner for you.

          • Ryan

            Wow again on the extremely flawed logic. So you’re telling me they’re willing to purposely lose money for years because they don’t want to just cancel Madden? Do you know how dumb that sounds?

            If you’re a business which option would you chose(if you’re “theory” was correct):

            1) Share or lose NFL license and your game loses money every year.

            2) Buy exclusive license at a price that causes the game to produce a loss.

            3) Cancel game and save money to put towards a possibly more lucrative project.

            The fact that they keep extending the license is proof enough that Madden is still turning a profit.

          • Keith.

            Have you never heard of a loss leader before?

            EA’s been bleeding money for years. That’s why Riccotello’s gone, and why Wilson won’t be far behind. If you think the exclusive is profitable for EA, you’re delusional.

          • Ryan

            Yeah that works when you’re a store or a website trying to attract people to come buy other things from you. Doesn’t work with a video game.

            Loss leaders only work if they actually make the store money in the end.

            Now tell me if Madden is losing money overall how is that a loss leader? It’s not like buying Madden is going to make you buy more games from EA. Your logic is faulty at best.

          • Keith.

            If EA hadn’t bought up the exclusive 10 years ago, they’d be out of business today, at least when it comes to sports video games. What’s so difficult for you to understand about that?

          • Iown You

            Forget about all the loss leader stuff, and let’s get down to the only things that matter:

            – EA has paid upwards of half a BILLION dollars to maintain the Exclusive NFL License since 2005.

            – When Madden 11 was being released, it was reported in the media that EA had to ask the NFL to cut them a break on the deal because of profit issues.

            Those two things are facts. Now ask yourself, would a company making strong profits on a game ever have to ask for a BREAK on their deal? Think about it.

            The exclusive license play has blown up in EA’s face. They thought that by controlling the entire market they would get at that 10 Million+ unit level. But dammit, they were wrong, dead wrong. They looked at market potential but discounted the game’s quality and its importance to the equation of reaching that market potential.

            Here is the situation EA is in right now:

            – EA knows that the Exclusive does not make financial sense to continue for them, because they have seen losses of their OWN market share potential since they signed it. Look at what Madden was selling prior to the deal and just a season after, and look at what it’s selling now. They’ve managed to lose ground in a market that they entirely control!

            – Even though EA knows the deal does not make sense for them to continue, they also know that letting go of it allows competition back into the fold, which they CLEARLY don’t want since they’ve made it a point to snatch up every license that 2K could’ve possibly used to make a marketable football game with: NCAA, Arena, NFL, ESPN. Hell, they even got the Blitz license!

            EA knows that it will only take 2K a few short years to obliterate them in the football market, and they’ve been doing all they can to make sure 2K never comes back. Remember what Riccitiello said on that infamous conference call? “EA needs to ensure 2K’s All-Pro Football is not repeatable”. EA/Tiburon is a company of scumbags who are afraid of competition, and that produces a sub-par football game, a game whose sales have plummeted dramatically over the past 10 years, and really hit the skids this season, needing 4 console releases just to crack 4 Million sales! Madden used to push 5 Million on PS2 alone and there aren’t that many more football fans today than there were then, it’s just that there are fewer fans of Madden than ever because the game’s quality no longer matches up with what the rest of the total gaming market is offering as it once did.

            If competition ever comes back, Madden will wind up just like NBA Live. It’s inevitable, because the Madden dev team is terrible.

  • vic

    im not a ea hater i just want a good football game i buy madden every year as well as 2k madden has its moments yeah but weve asked for years for a damn draft creator and there response is we think the fans prefer the way we do it now because they like that boom or bust factor in every draft….or something along those lines, which is bullshit im sure nobody likes drafting players in the 4th round or any round that are 90 overall well im speaking for the sim players if your looking for a arcade experience then madden is your game…2k has there issues with online but as far as gm mode its awesome and visually a lot better with that being said i really liked madden 12 with the player roles franchise QB QB of the future and so on plus theirs a editor where you can create your own draft class not made by ea of course but still is great, now we got teams drafting QB in the first round when they already have one……..im staying optimistic though i trully believe this year will be the year when they make a game that looks good and plays good when i say play good i mean i dont have to turn the QB accuracy down to 5 and blocking to 0 just to have a challenging game thats fun……dont kill my wishful thinking its all i have when it comes to madden

  • hungryandrew

    Obviously I prefer competition, a wide variety of nfl games made from different companies. But I admit Madden 25 for ps4 was pretty decent, if they build on that, and keep making strides, I would be ok with it.

  • Guest

    man this sucks I’m a real big NFL fan I love the games but dam its like every year its always a problem that they don’t fix and they continue to make the same mistakes over and over i keep telling myself i’m not gna buy the game but i cant play 25 when 15 comes out but i really hope the next gen fixes all this bull crap in the game but we seen countless times its the developers

  • BDog

    It’s obvious that EA doesn’t want to face any competition with these sports games. Someone on here mentioned that 2K scared the crap out of them with NFL 2K5, and EA will do everything in it’s power not to have to face 2K when it comes to a football game. Don’t forget that EA also tried to secure the NBA license as well but David Stern said no. Just imagine if they had been successful? If all we had was NBA Live? How fucked up would that be? I know that 2K is having it’s problems with NBA 2K14 right now in terms of the online servers and all that, but it’s still the best basketball simulation gameplay-wise to date. 2K will eventually clean up all the online problems i’m sure, but Madden will just remain the same, uninspired game it’s been for years.

    Madden just hasn’t been a great game of SIMULATION football in a long time. EA has just gotten stale and lazy with Madden because there’s no competition to keep them motivated and on their toes. I really hope Pasta is wrong here. It’s time for the NFL to wake up and give someone else a chance to make a football game.

    • CSaint

      2k5 one of my favorites

    • Bieberkinz

      I love me some 2K, I’ve played 2K5 in a week more than I have Madden in a year. But the problem that people aren’t seeing is, who are the people that will make this game? The prime example of this problem is MLB 2K vs NBA 2K, and we all knew how that ended. It’s been a decade since then, APF 2K8 has came along (port though,) so you would have to think, how/who would make this game?

      If you haven’t seen how the entire OS community is acting with NBA2K, it’s worrying. The fact that there has been 4 patches and still issues with people worries me. The fact that the current gen version with no patch is still more stable amazes me.

      It’s not just online problems, it’s an amazing on court game, the core gameplay is nice, but everything else was a downer. All these random glitches, this patch breaking this thing. The removal of features that were useful. That’s not good at all. If you’re not suffering from problems either you’re a fanboy or your super lucky, unfortunately, others don’t have your luck.

      2K5 and Madden 05 were created just before the DLC was created, so will that just potentially ruin the experience, having games broken at launch and us having to wait on patches?

      I understand the love and hate with 2K and Madden, but I’m worried about how 2K15+ will be conceived.

  • Dustan M. Howell

    All is not lost people. Here’s the quote:

    EA Sports and the NFL “still have a
    number of years left on our agreements” to exclusively develop and
    publish video games, EA CEO Andrew Wilson told investors. “We have a
    number of games in development with the NFL” license, he added. Reports
    had suggested EA’s license to make NFL games would expire this year.

    All this quote tells us is that the EA is still going to release Madden, which should’ve been obvious to everyone. The only statements that EA CEO Andrew Wilson actually made is what’s inside the quotation marks, and that’s “still have a number of years left on our agreements,” and ” We have a number games in development this year.” Notice the word exclusivity isn’t inside the quote.

    The only thing that can be gathered from these two quotes is that Wilson was simply reassuring investors that EA will continue to release Madden football games. The license was set to expire this year, unless all the reports were horribly wrong, and since there was no news of a renewal of the license, it’s possible that Wilson was just reassuring investors that EA won’t be leaving the football business.

  • MoneyMayweather

    any unbias gamer knows this deal is bad just for video game football as a whole. If not 2k let Sony get a crack at it with Gameday I’m sure lots of people would buy an NFL exclusive game from sony just like the show.

  • Brian Collins

    Am I the only one who wants a new Mutant Football League game?

    • They had the Kickstarter for it but it got very little support.

      • Iown You

        Surprise surprise. Football gamers support nothing, and that’s a big reason why a lot of companies are afraid to try an unlicensed football game. Football gamers have become spoiled princesses who want NFL 2K5 level quality in the first installment, even from small indies with nothing budgets, smh.


    BIG. BIG. Statement here is that there isn’t EXCLUSIVE comments. EA is a BIG MOUTH when it comes to exclusive stuff, they love to brag about it. I get the feeling this deal IS NOT EXCLUSIVE.

  • Kels

    I never really bash madden like some, but this whole exclusive thing is crazy. I haven’t owned a madden since 10 it just kept on feeling the same too me. I have ps4 thought about getting it then saw it on my brother ps4 and didn’t see a reason to go out and buy it. It’s not all EA fault the NFL wanted it this way and until a new owner comes along and change things it will be this way. If more and more people stop buying madden and ea keeps losing millions that’s when all of a sudden companies wants to change things up not sure if each will tho.