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NFL & 2K to partner once more on new video games, but not football sims

The NFL and 2K are getting back together once more to create new video games, but if you're looking for NFL 2K21, you might be out of luck.

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Once upon a time, NFL 2K games were a proper competitor to Electronic Arts’ Madden series with solid physics, gameplay, and other features, but eventually EA won out and gained solo use of the NFL license in football sims. More than a decade later it looks like NFL and 2K are getting back together to produce new video games, but don’t get too excited. The deal seems specifically set for non-simulation football games, which likely means no NFL 2K21 anytime soon.

The National Football League and 2K parent company Take Two announced their latest deal in a press release from Take Two on March 10, 2020. No financial terms were disclosed in the release, but 2K and NFL will be cooperating once more on new football-themed games. Unfortunately, this seems to exclude the possibility of football sims.

“The games will be non-simulation football game experiences,” Take Two wrote. “While specific game titles, developers and release dates will be announced at a later date, 2K confirmed the projects are in early development and will launch starting in calendar year 2021, during Take-Two’s fiscal year 2022.”

The NFL 2K series hasn't been seen since ESPN NFL 2K5, but it doesn't seem like NFL and 2K's deal is allowing for a proper return of the series.
The NFL 2K series hasn't been seen since ESPN NFL 2K5, but it doesn't seem like NFL and 2K's deal is allowing for a proper return of the series.

It makes sense that the NFL might not sign a deal that would create direct competition with the longstanding Madden series. Even so, it’s a slight shame to see that the NFL 2K series won’t be making a triumphant return on this deal. Even the last proper title in the series, ESPN NFL 2K5, was a pretty good offering and solid alternative to what Madden had going on.

That said, we’re curious what “non-simulation football games” will look like under this new deal. 2K has continued to create sports experiences in the likes of the NBA 2K series where they continue to work and innovate with extensive player RPG-like career modes and the addition of leagues like the WNBA women’s teams. Whatever 2K has up their sleeve to remain out of direct competition with NFL will be at least be interesting to see.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at tj.denzer@shacknews.com and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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