EA Retains Rights to NHL and UFC Licenses in New Deals

EA Retains Rights to NHL and UFC Licenses in New Deals

More hockey and more MMA are on the way.

This year, two EA Sports series are sitting out the early leap to next-gen: 2020's licensed releases for the National Hockey League (NHL) and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) are only coming to current-gen systems. It may not be that long until we see more from both franchises though, as today both the NHL and UFC have announced extensions to their licensing agreements with EA.

Compared to the information about this year's earlier Madden NFL extension to 2025, details on these renewed deals with the NHL and UFC are pretty slim. Both are multi-year arrangements—in the case of the latter, EA and UFC are looking to expand to "more forms of play and self-expression, available on more platforms, including expanded future offerings for mobile players." Next-gen platforms are not explicitly mentioned by name in EA's press releases.

These renewals come at a moment that sees the UFC series attempting to regain its footing while NHL 21 ends the current generation with troubling legacy issues. This August's launch of UFC 4 came after a break in annualized releases in 2019, time that EA Sports took to try and rework the series to be more accessible to its "more casual fandom." With NHL, EA's also making a nostalgia play with the release of NHL 94 Rewind as an NHL 21 pre-order bonus.

Meanwhile, FIFA and Madden are making their way to the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S this year. While EA does need to watch out for new competition from 2K Sports now that it's able to make non-simulation NFL games, Madden football and "proper" football still lead the EA Sports pack.

Madden and FIFA aside, EA is also taking a somewhat conservative early approach to next-gen with titles like Star Wars: Squadrons and Apex Legends. There's still no guarantee that UFC and NHL will go next-gen as of next year, but if they do they won't be too far behind other EA staples.

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Mathew Olson


Mathew Olson is a writer formerly of Digg, where he blogged and reported about all things under the umbrella of internet culture (including games, of course). He lives in New York, grew up under rain clouds and the influence of numerous games studios in the Pacific Northwest, and will talk your ear off about Half-Life mods, Talking Heads or Twin Peaks if you let him.

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