ESPN NFL 2K5 shipping before Madden?

Confusion surrounds the recently discounted footballer as online retailers list it with a July 20 release date.

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Just as the dust was beginning to settle following Sega and Take-Two's bold ESPN NFL 2K5 price cut, the game is again causing a stir. This time, the matter at hand is the $19.99 footballer's ship date.

Traditionally, the ESPN NFL games and their predecessors, the NFL 2K games, have shipped after their archrivals, Electronic Arts' Madden NFL games. However, today EBgames.com and GameStop.com began listing both the Xbox and PlayStation 2 versions with a July 20 release--a full two weeks before Madden's August 9 ship date.

If true, an earlier ESPN NFL 2K5 release would be an added incentive for sports gamers to pick up the game. But besides adding another layer to copublishers Take-Two and Sega's bold marketing strategy, the July 20 date could also indicate that the game's development is being rushed.

To answer some of these questions, GameSpot contacted staffers at Visual Concepts, ESPN NFL 2K5's Sega-owned developer. "I wish that were true," said one after emitting an exhausted laugh, "but I won't have any information for you until tomorrow...we'll hopefully know more then." Representatives from Take-Two toed the same line, also telling GameSpot to check back in on Friday.

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