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NFL owners to vote on five-year extension with EA Sports

Lamar Jackson announces that he will be on the cover of Madden 21, saying he's not worried about a Madden curse.

If it’s in the game, it’s in the game. And it’s likely remaining in the game for another seven seasons, at a minimum.

Next week, NFL owners will vote on a five-year extension with EA Sports for the league’s video-game license. Characterized by Albert Breer of as a potential “ratification,” this implies that a deal has been negotiated between the league and EA, and that the owners at this point need to only rubber stamp the agreement.

The extension for the now-legendary Madden game would run through the 2026 season, making it a seven-year deal.

More than a decade ago, EA Sports beat back significant competition from 2K by buying exclusive rights to the league’s video game franchise. Earlier this year, the league reached a deal with 2K for the production of “non-simulation football video games.” It’s still not clear what that means, and whether and to what it extent it will erode the value of the supposedly exclusive EA Sports license.

EA Sports absorbed plenty of criticism for shutting down the 2K series, which many gamers preferred to Madden. There also have been concerns that the lack of competition has prompted EA to become complacent when it comes to innovating the Madden game.

Many still enjoy the game, especially the “Madden Ultimate Team” option. The MUT feature allows the user to start with a bare-bones roster of current and historical players and through a series of challenges and online matches (and the ever-present “buy stuff” option) gradually improve the team. The only problem is that, with each new edition of the game, the user gets a brand new team, striving to improve from a 59 to a 99 before it’s time to be a 59 all over again.