All Madden, all the time

Electronic Arts, the leading maker of sports video games, signed an exclusive five-year contract with the National Football League and the NFL Players Association, deals that will give the company sole possession of the licensed football video game business. The partnership, which will commence with the publishing of Electronic Arts' Madden game next August, eliminates the competitive battle EA endured this year with ESPN's NFL 2K5 game, a joint venture between Sega and Take-Two Interactive.

Without the use of team and player names, generic games have struggled for survival in the current environment. Before this year, EA's Madden franchise -- which the company has sold more than 40 million copies of since its debut in 1989 -- previously dominated the football game marketplace. Bit players, including Midway, 989 Sports and Microsoft, dropped out of the licensed football game business this year. But the Madden 2005 game was seriously challenged by NFL 2K5, thanks to good reviews and a pricing war.

News source: ESPN.com

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