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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 December, 2004, 00:46 GMT
EA in exclusive NFL games deal
Screenshot from Madden NFL 2005
Madden NFL's market share has been eaten away this year
Electronic Arts, the world's biggest video games firm, has signed exclusive agreements with the National Football League and the NFL players' union.

The five year deal gives EA the rights to teams, stadiums and players for use in its titles.

The deal is seen as boost for EA as its top-selling Madden NFL title has lost market share to low-priced games from Sega and Take-Two this year.

Future football games from EA's rivals will no longer include NFL teams.

EA's licensing arrangement covers console, hand-held device and PC games but not mobile phone, some online and fantasy-football style titles.


The NFL games in EA's franchise Madden have sold more than 42 million copies in its 15 year history.

But this year, the Sega and Take-Two titles under the ESPN branding have proved a challenge to the market leader.

They have won good reviews and were priced at about $20 (10.39) in the US, compared to EA's $30.

Take Two said the exclusive deal would be bad for consumers.

"We believe that the decisions of the NFL to grant an exclusive licence for video games do a tremendous disservice to the consumers and sports fans... by limiting their choices, curbing creativity and almost certainly leading to higher game prices," Take-Two said in a statement.

The NFL players union said the deal with EA followed long discussions.

"We started talking about this months before the ESPN product even hit the shelves," Gene Upshaw, director of the NFL Players Association, told the Reuters news agency.

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