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March 22, 2005

NBA secures five non-exclusive video game deals

The US National Basketball Association has signed new multiyear, non-exclusive licensing agreements with five video game publishers to promote the popular sport.

By CBR Staff Writer

The contracts, which were awarded to Electronic Arts, Take-Two, Sony Computer Entertainment America, Midway Games and Atari, will allow the developers to use the sporting body’s teams in their products. It is also thought that the National Basketball Association (NBA) will use the agreements to heavily promote these basketball video games with global marketing and branding through the league’s NBA TV and NBA.com.

The announcement appears to go against the grain of recent deals that have seen two major sporting associations sign exclusive contracts with gaming publishers. In December last year, the National Football League (NFL) struck a reported five-year exclusive deal with Electronic Arts (EA) while a few weeks later Take-Two won exclusive third-party rights to Major League Baseball (MLB).

It has been suggested that the NBA avoided this type of agreement because it limits the choice in NFL and MLB-inspired games. The association may also believe that non-exclusive licensing agreements will produce a wider scope for creativity and competition between gaming publishers.

According to the deals, all five companies will publish NBA game franchises on a yearly basis, with EA, Take-Two and Sony developing simulation-style games, the latter creating them for its own PlayStation 2 and PSP hardware.

EA and Midway will alternate years with their arcade-style games, while Atari will continue to publish its kids game Backyard Basketball yearly.

Take-Two will also publish the NBA 2K franchise through its 2K Sports publishing label and develop the games through its Visual Concepts studio.

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