Electronic Arts' monopoly on American football has apparently come to an end. Yes, the financially buffeted publisher still has a lock on the NFL for the next four years, and its
"EA Sports and the Arena Football League have opted not to extend the exclusivity agreement to develop video games based on the sports license," a rep told GameSpot.
Word of the separation first surfaced in yesterday's edition of The Sports Business Journal, which revealed that EA was negotiating for NFL exclusivity seven months before the agreement was made public in 2004. The respected athletic-industry trade also reports that EA will not exercise an option to invest in the AFL, an option it had under the exclusive game-licensing deal that the two signed in January 2005.
Though it grabbed headlines at the time, the three-year EA/AFL deal wasn't a particularly fruitful union. It yielded only two lukewarmly reviewed games, 2006's Arena Football (PlayStation 2, Xbox) and 2007's Arena Football: Road to Glory (PS2 only). Both games were developed by Florida-based EA Tiburon, maker of the considerably more acclaimed and exponentially more successful Madden NFL games.