2K has been spinning up its sports division to make football games, and it's got some real heat behind it. Yesterday, 2K Sports confirmed it has entered a new partnership with the NFL Players Association and OneTeam Partners for its upcoming slate of football games.
Through this deal, 2K Sports will be able to use the name, likeness, image, and number of over 2,000 current NFL players in its multiple upcoming football games. The length of the deal has not been specified.
Earlier this year, 2K Sports announced it would be making football games once again through a new partnership with the NFL. For a long time, Electronic Arts has had virtual football on lockdown with its Madden series, but 2K's return will differ in a notable way: it will not be a simulation game, a genre for which EA remains the NFL's sole partner.
So while Madden will remain the sole sim in town, 2K now has both the league and player licenses it will need to start crafting its lineup of football games. What that will look like is still unclear; with simulation off the table, hopes seem to be that 2K will venture more into the arcade territory, though that could range anywhere from Super Mega Baseball to NFL Blitz.
"We're thrilled to be working with the NFLPA and OneTeam to bring the biggest and best stars in football to the games we're working on," said 2K President David Ismailer in a press release. "We want to give fans experiences that are authentic, memorable and fun, and having a roster of real-life sports heroes through the Players Association and OneTeam is a huge part of delivering on that promise."
It seems like the right time to try and steal away Madden's audience share, or at least siphon off some of it. Last year's version was not a series high, with this year's Madden Bowl exemplifying some of those issues pretty well.
Madden NFL 21 is due out this coming month on Aug. 28, 2020, and it's already got next-gen plans in the works. It'll be a bit before we see what 2K plans in response—2K's slate won't start rolling out until at least April 2021—but hopefully it's something that will shake up the currently Madden-dominated arena of virtual football.