2K reached a deal with the NFL Players Association that will let the league’s players be featured in the publisher’s “non-simulation” football games. Back in March, 2K and the NFL announced a partnership to develop a run of “non-simulation” football games, but there was a key piece missing from the puzzle.
The deal cleared the way for the publisher to put out an NFL-licensed game starting in 2021, something it hasn’t done since releasing the much-beloved ESPN NFL 2K5 back in the summer of 2004. However, at no point in the announcement was there mention of the NFL Players Association, a union agreement 2K would also need in order to feature the league’s players in its upcoming football titles.
It was announced earlier in the year that the NFL and 2K Games had reached a deal to create games together. The catch was that what they are going to produce will be “non-simulation” games, though what that actually means isn’t entirely clear.
What those games will look like is anyone’s guess, but 2K Games have now confirmed they have also reached a deal with OneTeam Partners and the National Football League Players Association to use the likeness and numbers of players in whatever they produce, so if you were worried about not having your favorite player in these “non-simulation games,” you can rest easy.
In a football game market nearly monopolized by EA’s Madden NFL franchise, word that 2K was getting back to making NFL-licensed games again was encouraging news. Unfortunately, perhaps to the dismay of many fans, a true competitor to Madden these games won’t be, as the “non-simulation” label implies more arcade-like experiences.
Speaking of Madden, EA had its own licensing deal with the NFL extended through at least the 2025 season by the league’s owners back in May. The extension keeps Madden as the lone series of simulation-based NFL games for the foreseeable future, and granted EA the ability to develop mobile and arcade-style games as well.
Still, while Madden will remain video-game football’s headliner, 2K is at least making it so it isn’t the only show in town anymore. Whatever it’ll be, it’s a ways out it seems. But in the meantime, Madden NFL 21 will be releasing next month for your football fix.