Rumors…for the past two years these rumors have hit the web at this time. The reason being, that the NFL license comes up around the end of the season. Once the Super Bowl wraps up, it’s an open market. At least that’s the plan this year, when the license finally comes open. The last deal was set to expire in 2012, then the short 1-year extension was granted when the league faced a lockout in 2011. That means the contract with the NFL and EA is up at the end of the Super Bowl, and no news has come out about an extension. This sets us up for a great deal of rumors and speculations about the return of NFL 2K.
The last 2K football game was produced in 2007, when they released a somewhat successful All Pro Football 2K8. The last NFL licensed 2K game was 2004, with NFL 2K5. NFL 2K5 was largely successful, selling at a bargain priced $20. This was a move done due to the expiring contract with the NFL and the knowledge that EA had already signed an exclusive contract.
This continual exclusivity was challenged in 2007, when 2K Sports decided to put together a new take on football hoping to secure a deal with the NFL. They used former NFL players such as Troy Aikman, Dan Marino, and Barry Sanders. It was a fun concept, but nothing worth the full $60 price tag that it launched at. Once the NFL extended the deal with EA to 2011, 2K decided to stop fighting to make a comeback. Instead, they focused on NBA 2K and MLB 2K (2K repaid EA for their exclusive move by signing one with Major League Baseball, eliminating EA’s MVP Baseball franchise). Striving to be the best in the business at both, but essentially destroying the MLB name until they let the contract expire in 2013.
The setup is now in place, as 2K has one of the most successful sports franchise (NBA 2K) on the market and has given up the costly MLB title. One which 2K said cost $30 mil a year and every time they tried to invest in it they lost money. This means that 2K has the money to match EA’s speculated NFLPA deal, which is said to give the Players Association (the one that controls the rights to the players names and likenesses) roughly $30-$50 million a year. EA also pays John Madden $2 million a year for his name, meaning a deal with 2K will create a more profitable opportunity for all parties involved. In 2013, EA Sports announced that Madden had generated $4 billion in revenue over it’s lifetime, or roughly $250 million per title.
When 2K was bought out of the NFL market, it’s rumored that NFL game sales (NFL2K, Madden, NFL Blitz, NFL Gameday, and NFL Fever) were in the range of $384 million. As of 2013, Madden sales were the equivalent of their 2005 version (5 mil total for Madden 12, 5.77 mil for Madden 2005). Regardless of the exclusive deal, game sales have stayed stagnant. This is a costly endeavor for EA, just as the MLB license was for 2K.
That does raise the question if there’s an ability to be profitable in the NFL market, and if 2K is willing to spend the money to find a way back. $30 million could have been used to repurchase their shares or to invest in new IP’s.
We’ve yet to hear about 2K’s or their parent company Take Two Interactive’s plan for 2014 and beyond. There are rumors that 2K has reached out to buy the NCAA license for college football and potentially are working a deal with the NFL for the return of 2K.
This isn’t going to happen, at least I don’t think it is. If 2K is working on any of this, we’d have heard something of speculation…or everyone involved has the tightest lips in the business. There’s no LinkedIn goofs, no gaming site slips, and there’s no competitors letting info slip. On top of all that, EA and their Tiburon studio are already working on Madden 15, which means they are planning on keeping the license…or at least being a part of it.
There are plenty of people on the web who disagree, although I haven’t seen anyone with confirmed sources or reliable information. I can trust these sources with a grain of salt. They speak their minds and I love that, I just can’t confirm their information until I’ve heard otherwise.
One of the few who do believe it’s going to happen, HipHopGamer. See his video and speculations below; and once you’ve seen the video, tell me what you think in the comments. Are you excited, do you want it, and do you even care?