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Take-Two Signs Deal With MLB Players Union

[UPDATE - Take-Two has now confirmed the deal in an official press release, outlining an "agreement ...
[UPDATE - Take-Two has now confirmed the deal in an official press release, outlining an "agreement in principle" for an "innovative seven-year arrangement... (meaning Take-Two will) have exclusive rights among third-party publishers" for baseball games.] After weeks of speculation that an announcement would be forthcoming, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Take-Two Interactive has reached a licensing agreement with the union representing Major League Baseball (MLB) players. However, this agreement is yet to be officially confirmed. The alleged seven-year agreement is expected to be announced early this week, with the publisher thought to have a paid a licensing fee of between $80 and $90 million for the rights to publish video games featuring the official names and likenesses of players. Take-Two has apparently also negotiated with the MLB itself for rights to use team names and other assets. Indeed, The Wall Street Journal has speculated that the union deal could lead to a more comprehensive long term signing with the MLB. The deal, as it is described now, would give Take-Two exclusive third party publishing rights, ensuring that nobody but console manufacturers themselves (i.e. Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft) could publish their own official titles. Importantly, this blocks Electronic Arts from releasing any titles with correctly identified player names. This move is an expensive one for Take-Two, but is seen by many as retaliation for Electronic Art’s even more wide-ranging deal with the NFL and ESPN, which has at once denied Take-Two the chance to release their own official NFL title, and robbed them of the ESPN branding from their entire sports brand.

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