Annualized sports franchises are the closest games to sure-thing money makers in the industry, and publishers in the past have gone to great pains to wrap up exclusive access to the licenses. Most notably, EA in 2005 secured exclusive rights to the National Football League through 2010, and Take-Two owns the sole third-party rights to the Major League Baseball until 2012. Aptly opting for a five-man roster, the National Basketball Association licensed out its rights to Electronic Arts, Take-Two, Midway, Sony, and Atari in 2005.
With nearly all the major players able to take to the professional basketball court, the NCAA license bench has today for the time being lightened by one. As initially reported by Kotaku, 2K Sports has canceled College Hoops 2K9, which was sketched in for November 2008. The call was reportedly made due to a standoff in licensing negotiations with the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC), which holds the rights to college trademarks for more than 200 college and universities.
"2K Sports has decided not to continue negotiations with the CLC for the license for its top-rated College Hoops franchise, which would have been released next in November 2008," said 2K Sports in a statement. "We are committed to providing fans with high-quality, critically acclaimed sports games, but given our disciplined approach to the business, we do not believe the current discussions would result in an acceptable outcome."
2K Games provided no other details on the negotiation climate, but Kotaku reports that the reason for the breakdown in talks was outside influence from Take-Two rival Electronic Arts, which releases its own multiplatform annualized college hoops series, NCAA March Madness. EA and the CLC had not responded to requests for comment as of press time.
Sports of all sorts have been a sticking point for Take-Two recently. Reporting on its fourth-quarter revenues in December, the publisher noted that its 2K Sports division failed to turn a profit in 2007, despite a "very, very solid performance" by NBA 2K8. One of the primary drains on the division was 2K Sports' return to the gridiron with All-Pro Football 2K8, which featured a heavily loaded cast of NFL legends instead of current-day stars. As of the end of November, All-Pro 2K8 had only managed less than 159,000 copies on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in the US, according to the NPD Group.