After innumerable rumors that both Take Two Interactive and Electronic Arts were pursuing an exclusive licensing agreement with the National Basketball Association (NBA) it has been revealed that the association has, in fact, signed five new non-exclusive agreements with a variety of publishers.
The agreements allow Electronic Arts, Take Two Interactive, Sony Computer Entertainment America, Midway Games and Atari to continue to develop, publish and distribute games featuring NBA team and stadium data as well as the NBA name and logo. The NBA will also work with each company to promote the basketball games with marketing and global branding through the league's various assets including NBA TV and NBA.com.
The new multiyear agreements will begin in October 2005, with NBA entertainment president Adam Silver proclaiming "This is a great day for NBA gamers". He went on to comment: "By partnering with the top developers of sports video games, our fans will be assured a broad and competitive selection of innovative products."
Electronic Arts titles will include the NBA Live
and NBA Street
franchises, while Take Two will continue with its newly re-branded NBA 2K
series. SCEA will publish the continuation of the NBA Shootout
series, beginning with NBA 2006
Long-time licensee Midway will continue with its arcade orientated NBA Ballers
series once every other year, while Atari with also create new iterations of their own Backyard Basketball
series for younger players. These games will appear in addition to basketball titles which do not use the official NBA license, such as Ubisoft’s recently announced new title using the AND 1 street basketball license.
Some analysts had already predicted that the NBA would not agree to an exclusive license, in the manner of the one signed between Electronic Arts and the NFL, since there are, as illustrated, a much larger number of high-profile and profitable basketball game franchises.