For many avid sports gamers, December 13, 2004 is a day that will live in infamy. On that date, EA Sports, makers of the longstanding Madden franchise, inked a deal with the NFL that would allow EA, and only EA, to produce video games depicting real NFL teams and players. At the time, many thought Sega’s NFL 2k series, and its then most recent iteration, NFL 2k5, had surpassed the Madden games in both quality and price. Players loyal to the NFL 2k series – which included a 12 year old version of me – flipped out because the Madden games, as anyone with a brain and a 12 year old vocabulary knew, sucked and the 2k games were awesome. EA Sports went on to sign a similar deal with the NCAA the next spring. Without any competition for its football games, EA Sports, much to the chagrin of kids (and their parents who shelled out over $50 per copy), appeared to stop innovating and instead released games each year that were essentially glorified roster updates.
Eight years later, we can stop flipping (kind of). In response to a class action lawsuit filed against it for antitrust and consumer protection violations, EA has agreed to give up its exclusive license to produce college football games (although it retains its NFL license). Although the settlement still needs the court’s approval to become official (with a hearing date scheduled for late September), its believed (hoped? prayed?) that this decision will lead to the resurrection of Sega’s football franchise. With Sega nipping at its heals again, gamers everywhere can hopefully look forward to better, cheaper college football games and maybe, down the line, a version of NFL 2k22.