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EA and 2K extend NBA licensing deal

Tue 24 May 2011 8:07am GMT / 4:07am EDT / 1:07am PDT
Publishing

Use of likenesses, names and arenas included in "multiyear" contract

The NBA has extended its licensing deal with both EA and 2K Sports to use player likenesses, team and player names and team arenas in what the sports body has described as a 'multiyear' deal.

Both EA and 2K publish basketball games based on the NBA, in the form of NBA Jam and LIVE from EA and NBA 2K11 from 2K. The games are major earners for both publishers, particularly in the US.

"We have had successful and long-standing relationships with both 2K Sports and EA SPORTS," said NBA global merchandising VP Sal LaRocca. "Extending our agreements with the top sports video game developers continues to maximize our presence in this category, while ensuring our fans the best selection of NBA video games."

Whilst it's plausible that other companies can release NBA themed titles, such as 2009's online title NBA Unrivalled from Tecmo Koei, the licensing of real-life assets is reserved to EA and 2K, making market penetration extremely difficult for any other publisher.

Earlier this year, 2K also extended its reach by signing a deal with ESPN to become the major sponsor of the sports channel's European basketball coverage.

Last year, 2K was also gifted dominance of the market for a season, when EA cancelled its iteration of NBA LIVE - having rebranded it as NBA Elite. That game, which had been in development at Black Box studios in Canada, was cancelled due to a perceived lack of quality. Development duties for the next game have now passed over to EA's Tiburon studio.

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