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EA has just announced that it has secured exclusive rights to the National Football League teams, players and stadiums. This contract covers virtually all types of video games on all significant platforms for the next five years. This is a huge bonus for the EA's Madden series and investors (stock price is up about 12% in the last day), but it's a crippling setback to various competitors such as Sega or Midway. The last couple Madden titles have exceeded five million copies sold. Most recently, Sega's ESPN NFL 2K5 has gained market share by undercutting Madden's price by 60%. EA's response now eliminates the possibility of ESPN NFL 2K6 being produced.
"We are excited about the opportunity to further enhance our relationship with the NFL and PLAYERS INC," said Larry Probst, Chairman and CEO of Electronic Arts. "The five-year agreements will usher NFL fans through the console technology transition with new ideas and innovative game play experiences."
GameSpot and Slashdot have some additional commentary on the issue as well.
Both agreements are exclusive for action simulation, arcade-style and manager games on the PC, handheld game devices and consoles -- including console online features. The agreements do not include exclusive rights to other types of games or games accessible from the Internet or wireless devices, including cellular phones.