NFL 2K Is Coming Back in 2021, but Madden Is Still the Exclusive Sim Football Game


The NFL and 2K Games announced a new agreement today that will see the publisher of NBA 2K and WWE 2K return to football, but EA’s long-running Madden NFL series will remain unchallenged in the high-end simulation market. “The games will be non-simulation football game experiences,” 2K said in its press release, adding, “While specific game titles, developers, and release dates will be announced at a later date, 2K confirmed the projects are in early development and will launch starting in calendar year 2021.” 2K Senior VP of Sports Strategy and Licensing Jason Argent told IGN, “These games will be ‘NFL 2K’ products, definitely.”This is the first time anyone but EA will release an NFL football video game since 2K’s extremely well-received, aggressively priced ESPN NFL 2K5 in July 2004 – after which EA signed a long-term exclusive deal with the NFL. “The NFL is one of the most successful sports brands in the world, known for creating incredible entertainment for fans,” said 2K President David Ismailer. “We’re thrilled to be back in business with the NFL in a partnership that will span multiple video games centered on fun, approachable, and social experiences.”

Gameplay from ESPN NFL 2K5 on the original Xbox.

Pressed for details on what these “non-simulation football game experiences” would be, Argent said, “Our goal is always authenticity, depth, fun and as it relates to these titles – approachable and social football experiences. We think this is a good opportunity to service a more casual market, and our research shows there’s an appetite for that.” Does that mean mobile platforms, next-gen consoles, both, or everything in-between? Neither the NFL nor 2K would comment as of now.

When asked how long this deal has been in the works, NFL Vice President and Head of Gaming and eSports Rachel Hoagland said, “We stayed in touch quite regularly over the course of the past couple of years.” NFL Senior Vice President of Consumer Products Joe Ruggiero added: “Expanding the NFL’s presence in the world of gaming has become a focus for the League as we look to grow the next generation of our fanbase and reviving our partnership with 2K was a natural step in that effort.”

In lieu of a proper simulation-focused NFL 2K21, what do you hope to see from 2K? NFL 2K Blitz, maybe? NFL 2K Football Manager? Let us know in the Comments!

Ryan McCaffrey is IGN’s Executive Editor of Previews and roots for the Arizona Cardinals. Follow him on Twitter at @DMC_Ryan, catch him on Unlocked, and drop-ship him Taylor Ham sandwiches from New Jersey whenever possible.




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