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EA’s exclusive licensing deal with Porsche is over

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Other racing game makers can have a shot after 16 years

Gallery Photo: Need forSpeed Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts' long-running exclusive license to use Porsche vehicles in its Need For Speed and Real Racing series is coming to an end, according to comments attributed to a Porsche executive in a report published yesterday.

Update: A statement from Electronic Arts confirms the 16-year-old exclusive pact between the two is over, though Porsche will continue to appear in EA racing game. The full statement:

We continue to have an excellent, long-standing relationship with Porsche. We mutually agreed earlier this year to continue our relationship under a non-exclusive licensing agreement, and we will continue to feature Porsche cars in future EA racing games.

The remainder of the original post follows.

The German-language site Speed Maniacs, speaking to Italian racing developer Kunos Simulazioni, asked how the studio was able to get a license to Porsche for Assetto Corsa, which launched in August. According to Sebastian Hornung, the branded entertainment manager for Porsche, the license "runs out this year" and that Porsche and EA had a mutual parting of ways (translation by GT Planet).

Polygon has reached out to Electronic Arts for comment on Hornung's remarks.

Electronic Arts and Porsche have had an exclusive pact going back to 2000 with Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed. The automaker's vehicles have made cameos in other games, notably in a downloadable car pack for 2011's Forza Motorsport 4, but that was through a sublicense between Turn 10 Studios and Electronic Arts.

There had been murmurs earlier this year that the deal was coming to an end. Porsches are rumored to be coming to Forza Horizon 3, notes IGN, and Project CARS' maker hinted at "some good news very soon" back in June.

Over the past 16 years, racing gamers had come to expect Ruf cars standing in for Porsche in non-EA games. Ruf works off unmarked Porsche chassis and, along with parts it manufactures, its vehicles are considered production models unto Ruf, and not modifications. Ruf's cars have frequently stood in for the Porsche 911 GT3, a situation that seemed to rankle Hornung.

Should this license not be renewed, it clears the way for a landmark development conole racers have clamored for over the years: Porsche vehicles in PlayStation's Gran Turismo series. The next edition, and the first on PlayStation 4, will be Gran Turismo Sport, launching in 2017.