How Did EA Manage To Wrestle The UFC Licence From THQ?

How Did EA Manage To Wrestle The UFC Licence From THQ?

EA acquiring the UFC licence is the thing I’m interested in that no-one else cares about. Years ago, when EA announced MMA, UFC President Dana White unleashed, stating that any fighter who allowed their likeness to appear in EA’s game would never fight for the UFC. Now, a few short years later EA has the UFC licence. What happened?

To begin with Dana White’s threat was never really carried out — Alistair Overeem, Dan Henderson, Randy Couture, Jason Miller and Nick Diaz are just a few of the fighters featured in EA’s MMA who have fought in the UFC since the game’s release.

“EA doesn’t give a f**k about Mixed Martial Arts,” said Dana White back then — so what’s changed since?

Joystiq has a series of pretty interesting interviews discussing precisely how EA acquired the licence.

“THQ and UFC had an agreement — for what it’s worth, I think THQ built some great games — but they’re making a decision now to focus more on their own IP and that’s the strategy they want to work with,” said EA Sports executive Andrew Wilson.

“We actually had a very good relationship with UFC and THQ, and at a point those guys decided THQ wanted to go in a different direction, and we were approached to see if we were interested, given those relationships we had. We’re on personal, first-name basis with the people who run THQ and UFC, so it made sense for us. We all sat down and had a conversation and once the relationship had settled with UFC and THQ, then we were able to start conversations with UFC about doing something with us. As you can imagine, we’re very excited about it.”

Apparently the plan for the next UFC game is to have the studio behind the Fight Night series, and EA Tiburon — the team behind EA’s MMA — work on the game.

“We felt really good about it, the UFC felt really good about it, and by all accounts, what we wanted gamers to know is there will be more UFC games,” said Wilson, speaking to Joystiq. “In the absence of us coming out and saying it, there could’ve been some ambiguity there because UFC and THQ had agreed to not pursue any more games. The big thing for us is reassuring fight fans and gamers that no matter what you hear, there are going to be great UFC experiences long into the future.”

EA has big plans for its UFC game [Joystiq]


  • God damn it. THQ’s controls were spectacular and EA’s were quite frankly, shit. I hope to god they abandon their last control scheme, it blew major chunks…

    • The ground game was horrible in earlier UFC games, but as of UFC3 I would agree with you. I really didn’t like EA’s take on MMA, particularly the striking.

      I also hope they keep the idea of tournament style rules from UFC3. Simulation is fun sometimes, but I like games best when I feel like I won or lost based on skill, not on a randomised flash KO.

  • Normally I would say EA just outbid them with far more money, but I’m guessing, that THQ with all their financial problems were unable to afford the licence ongoing, even if the games were moderately profitable.

    So that leaves the UFC licence up for grabs, EA can easily swoop in and add this to their Sports portfolio and likely look to spin this into one of their yearly franchises.

    • All the talk of first name basis and sitting down and talking about moving in a different direction is nothing next to this. I think you’re right

  • It’s funny because you can say that THQ was just starting to build a really solid base for their UFC franchise by the third game in, but at the same time game three is usually where THQ games really start to platau out and they get minor annual ajustments after that (think WWE games).

    EA sports now have one game of MMA game experience and a fairly high minimum benchmark (UFC 3) that they will need to beat with their next game.

    I don’t like EA generally, but i am excited to see what they can do with this new license. Also the new game better have Uncle Creepy in it.

  • Well Fight Night Champion is one of my favorite games. That team working on a UFC game give me some hope.

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