America's National Basketball Association (NBA) has rejected an approach by publisher Electronic Arts over a possible exclusivity arrangement, according to gaming website IGN. EA and the NBA have yet to confirm or deny the report.
After EA secured an unprecedented, and hugely expensive five-year exclusivity partnership with the National Football League (NFL) and its players association last week - effectively eliminating direct competition in the American football genre - IGN suggests that the NBA has rejected an initial offer from EA gunning for a similar arrangement, arguing that EA's relative lack of domination in the basketball genre may have been a significant factor.
Whereas EA's Madden NFL series is unquestionably the dominant American football franchise in the US, despite strong competition from Take-Two/SEGA's budget-priced ESPN Videogames efforts this year, EA's NBA Live series doesn't enjoy the same degree of domination with strong competition from ESPN NBA, NBA Ballers and 989's basketball games on various formats, says IGN.
The effect of EA's deal with the NFL is still being felt this week, as rival sports publishers now find themselves not only worrying about EA's relative marketing power, but its newfound ability to pull the rug out from under them completely when forced to react to any genuine threat to its own sales.
As such, this rejection - if indeed it did happen - will be encouraging for EA's rivals, but perhaps only in the short term. If the NBA has rejected an initial offer, it's worth considering that a second, larger offer might find the organisation more agreeable. Only time will tell; EA and the NBA are unlikely to comment one way or the other until one or both parties become either contractually bound or intractably averse to the proposal.
Last week publishers, including Take-Two, voiced their concern over lack of choice for the consumer in light of the NFL deal, and Midway boldly announced that it will release an unlicensed, more brutal American football game called Blitz: Playmakers in 2005 despite the arrangement, which will effectively sew up any official statistics and data until some way into the next cycle of console hardware.
Electronic Arts UK did not return our request for comment on Wednesday.