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EA Sports extends licenses for UFC, NHL video games

Terms undisclosed; neither game has had competition for a decade

a helmetless Alex Ovechkin raises his arms in celebration in NHL 21
Alex Ovechkin is the cover star for EA Sports’ latest hockey game, NHL 21.
Image: EA Vancouver/Electronic Arts
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

EA Sports has extended two licensing deals — one with the National Hockey League and its players association, the other with the Ultimate Fighting Championship — meaning its NHL and UFC video games will continue into the newest generation of consoles.

The UFC pact is an exclusive agreement extending to 2030, the companies said in a news release. The terms of the NHL contract were not disclosed, but the parties described it as a “multi-year deal.”

EA Sports has published an NHL game every year going back to 1991’s NHL Hockey on the Sega Genesis. It took over the UFC license in 2012 from the defunct THQ, publishing its first EA Sports UFC game in 2014 and three more since. Both the UFC and NHL titles are developed by the EA Vancouver studio.

Statements announcing both deals touted large numbers of players for the latest entries in the respective franchises (UFC 4 launched in August, NHL 21 in October). Electronic Arts said that the Stipe Miocic-Daniel Cormier fight on Aug. 15, a day after UFC 4’s launch, also helped drive a bigger audience than UFC 3 got upon its release in 2018.

NHL 21 launched Oct. 16 and, at the end of the month, those who pre-ordered it got access to NHL ’94 Rewind — a reworking of the classic Sega Genesis ROM to feature the current league, teams, and players.

The NHL and UFC games do not have any direct competitors; the last NHL game made by someone other than EA was NHL 2K11 for the Wii.

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