Electronic Arts today announced that they've extended their exclusive agreement with the NFL and the Players Association for another three years, meaning the publisher has the only agreement in place with the league for creating licensed football games through the 2012/2013 season.
"We've just completed a period of renegotiations with the NFL for a three year extension of our current deal," Peter Moore said in an interview with Kotaku. He added that Electronic Arts plans to expand that license to include games beyond Madden, including, potentially, a fantasy football title.
Moore said had they not locked down the NFL license soon the publisher would have had to start making decisions about "redeploying" the team who would have been starting work on Madden 2010 in eight months or so.
Moore declined to comment directly on rumours that Electronic Arts has been in talks with the NBA to land a similar exclusive deal, but he did say it wasn't the way EA operates.
"The deal we had with the NFL it was instigated by the NFL, it wasn't EA going after them," he said. "The NFL tendered for the exclusive license and EA bid on the license."
This year marks the 20th Anniversary of Madden a franchise that Moore said has a "legacy of innovation" and one he says will continue to innovate.
I asked Moore if the Madden franchise might ever make the leap from retail distribution to digital, perhaps episodic distribution and he said not anytime soon.
"Sports has that opportunity... to have levels or different types of teams delivered digitally, but I think we are a long way away from that," he said. "The model we currently have, where we have the game on the disc and updates every few weeks and some micro-transactions works for us. We continue to look at that, but we're still away from truly episodic."
Moore said that EA is looking at making a bigger push in the fantasy football arena.
"We do have a fantasy product, but we haven't been able to break through with it," he said. "I think there is an opportunity to bring our 3D engine to fantasy in the future."
Moore said he also feels there is potential for Madden broadening its and football's reach in Europe, something that is one of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell commitments for the year.
"It's never goint to challenge soccer (in Europe) let's be clear, but I think there's enough Americana in the game that there will be this fascination for people to watch it," he said. "A great number of consumers have been introduced to sports through video games. My son learned most of the games he plays now through games like Madden or World Series baseball."