Back in game: NFL announces partnership with 2K Sports

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Gamers have long hoped that 2K Sports would return to producing NFL video games. Those wishes will come true next year.

The NFL and 2K announced Tuesday a multiyear partnership for games. It’s the first time since 2004 that 2K has produced an NFL game.

“The league has been expanding its presence into gaming and it has been an important focus to us. It felt natural for us to be reviving our partnership with 2K,” said Rachel Hoagland, the league’s vice president and head of gaming & esports. “We’ve worked with them in the past and when we looked at broadening our portfolio, it made sense.”

The contract covers NFL-themed and non-simulation video games, meaning 2K won’t be producing a direct competitor to Electronic Art’s “Madden” series. The NFL 2K5 title remains one of the more popular football games among longtime gamers because it was ahead of its time with strategy and realism.

2K officials say they remain in early development stages for titles and concepts.

It might be along the lines of a seven-on-seven game that mimics backyard or neighborhood football. Something similar was produced in the early 2000s by Sony and EA.

“This has been quite a long time coming,” said Jason Argent, 2K senior VP for sports strategy and licensing. “We’re excited to get going and make some fun games.”

Since last producing an NFL game, 2K has made the biggest impact with its NBA game, which remains one of the top-selling titles each year. Its WWE series has also increased in popularity in recent years.

The first NFL-themed games from 2K will debut in mid-2021. That should be shortly after the debut of new generation gaming consoles from Sony and Microsoft.

Whether the 2K-NFL partnership will serve as a springboard to a deeper relationship remains to be seen. The league contract with EA for simulation games is up for renewal after the 2021 season.

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