Madden to Remain All Alone Through 2012 Season
In a move that is both unsurprising and disappointing, Electronic Arts announced today that it has extended its exclusive rights deal with the NFL through 2012. The current deal, signed in 2004, was to run through the 2009 season. The amount paid for either the original deal or this extension have never been publically disclosed, but estimates put it at somewhere between $250 and $300 million.
GameDaily Biz was able to speak with former Microsoft exec and current EA Sports head Peter Moore about the new deal. Moore talks about how EA wants to do more with the NFL than just Madden, and even more than Head Coach and NFL Tour. Periods of time like after the Super Bowl, around the draft and training camp are all lulls for EA in the football department and they want that to change.
Of particular interest were Moore’s comments made when asked what he would say to those who believe having a single choice is the best option for gamers. (Emphasis is ours)
This deal allows us to invest. The key is to make sure we’re in a position to invest aggressively in making the most innovative game. Madden this year has been our best game in three years. Our MetaCritic ratings are the best that we’ve had since the 2006 version. As we move forward, it doesn’t stop anyone from doing another football game as 2K proved this past season (with All Pro Football). At the same time, obviously, the ability for us to use the teams, the players, the stadiums and all of the official marks is important.
Let us not forget that this deal was at the NFL’s directive. They wanted to have an exclusive arrangement. This was not EA coming in and demanding exclusive rights. The NFL put their license out for tender and we bid, as well as many other companies did at the time…I wasn’t here at the time but I remember it very well. I think if the product we put out this year was slipping in quality and innovation, we might have a tougher platform to defend, but that’s not the case. I think the message to gamers is, “Look, we continue to enjoy an incredibly rich relationship with the NFL. We’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars in R&D over this period of time, in not just Madden but with other things we’re trying to do.”
While I understand what he’s saying, I still feel like competition is what caused Madden 08 to be so much better than the previous years. Without competition, both the 06 and 07 versions of Madden on the 360 and PS3 felt like they had little effort behind them. But, as soon as All Pro 2K8 showed its face, EA really stepped it up. Perhaps it’s simply me being jaded as a longtime, diehard fan of the NFL 2K games, but I still don’t like companies having exclusive rights to a sport – that goes for baseball, as well, in addition to any and every other sport.