Football Games Before Exclusive Licensing: A History Lesson

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So you may already know or perhaps you don’t but Electronic Arts owns the exclusive licensing to the NFL, NCAA Football, and even Arena Football and that means that for your yearly football fix they are your only supplier.

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Gameday wasn’t bad was it?

Now I can’t blame EA because they were doing what made business sense and I don’t know that we can blame the NFL because they didn’t want the value of their brand being negatively affected in any way by the battle between the two companies. There are competing stories as to who really wanted the deal some with some saying EA was pushing it and others who say it was in fact the NFL who pushed for an exclusive deal. In any case, how has it worked out for gamers? That my friends depends on who you ask. Most any gamer you ask will say they like NCAA Football and Madden and even if you have complaints there isn’t like there is an alternative. Personally, I think that nothing sparks innovation like competition and right now EA doesn’t have that when it comes to football and that is why I think we only see minor improvements in Madden and NCAA every year.

In basketball for instance, EA and 2K are constantly pushing each other to make their NBA titles the best that they can be with fans being split between NBA Live and NBA 2K,  and while EA is closing the gap 2K still is the king of the court in my opinion. 2K’s competing title NFL 2K sold pretty well and had a pretty nice size following of fans. They also sold it for  $19.99, yep you read that right twenty bucks. I remember going out and picking up 2K and I tell you this,  it was a while there that 2K had EA on the ropes as far gameplay and innovation.  In the end, I suppose that exclusive rights to sports licensing is good for everyone but gamers, but that’s just what we think.

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Anybody remember Ron Dayne, this was only 8 years ago people

What is crazy is that some of you reading this are actually too young to remember any other football title besides an  EA one, man I am getting old.  So in case you are, up until a few years ago there were other football titles such as NCAA Gamebreaker, NCAA Football 2K3,  NFL 2K, NFL GameDay, and even NFL Quarterback Club. Just saying those titles brings back rather fond memories to be quite honest but alas things have changed. So as you can see there used to be plenty of competition and diversity in the football department but that all changed when EA purchased the exclusive rights to the NFL license in December 2004 and while their hadn’t been a competing title in years they locked up the rights to the NCAA just two months later in February 2005.  At the end of the day, we are not getting away from this problem but at least we can vent a little and give a bit of a history lesson in the process. We want to hear from you, what does everyone think about this and do you remember life before EA was the only choice?

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Lorenzo Winfrey

Lorenzo Winfrey

Editor-In-Chief at ZoKnowsGaming
I am the Co-Ceo of DLT Digital Media. We are a company that is focused on developing new and innovative web properties in addition to developing WordPress based web sites for others. But before I was all that, I was a gamer.
Lorenzo Winfrey