EA Sports is a division of Electronic Arts that develops and publishes sports video games. Formerly a marketing gimmick of Electronic Arts, in which they tried to imitate real-life sports networks by calling themselves the "EA Sports Network" (EASN) with pictures or endorsements with real commentators such as John Madden, it soon grew up to become a sub-label on its own, releasing game series such as FIFA, NHL, NBA Live and Madden NFL.
|Formerly||Electronic Arts Sports Network (1991–1993)|
(COO and VP)
Most games under this brand are developed by EA Vancouver, the Electronic Arts studio in Burnaby, British Columbia as well as EA Tiburon in Maitland, Florida. The main rival to EA Sports is 2K Sports. Notably, both companies compete over the realm of NBA games, with 2K releasing the NBA 2K series. Konami is its rival in association football games with their own series, eFootball.
For several years after the brand was created, all EA Sports games began with a stylized five-second video introducing the brand with Andrew Anthony voicing its motto, "It's in the game", meaning that its games aimed at simulating the actual sports as authentically and completely as possible; Anthony was never compensated for his appearance and did it merely as a favour to a friend.
Unlike some other sports game companies, EA Sports has no special ties to a single platform, which means that all games are released for the best-selling active platforms, sometimes long after most of the other companies abandon them. For example, FIFA 98, Madden NFL 98, NBA Live 98, and NHL 98 were released for the Sega Genesis and the Super NES throughout 1997; Madden NFL 2005 and FIFA 2005 had PlayStation releases in 2004 (FIFA 2005 and Madden NFL 2005 were also the last two PlayStation titles to be released); and NCAA Football 08 had an Xbox release in 2007. Madden NFL 08 also had Xbox and GameCube releases in 2007, and was the final title released for the GameCube, with Madden NFL 09 following as the final Xbox title. Additionally, NASCAR Thunder 2003 and NASCAR Thunder 2004 were released not only for the PlayStation 2, but for the original PlayStation as well. EA Sports brand name is used to sponsor English Football League Two team Swindon Town F.C. from the 2009–10 season onward and the EA Sports Cup in the Republic of Ireland. In July 2021, hackers who breached Electronic Arts in June 2021, have released the entire cache of stolen data after failing to extort the company and later sell the stolen files to a third-party buyer.
In 2003, EA purchased the license to NASCAR for six years, ending competition from Papyrus and Infogrames. The NASCAR license expired in 2009 and the NASCAR license would be owned by Polyphony Digital for the Gran Turismo series starting with Gran Turismo 5, and also Eutechnyx for NASCAR The Game series from 2011 to 2015.
On December 13, 2004, EA Sports signed an exclusive deal with the National Football League (NFL) and its Players' Union for five years. On February 12, 2008, EA Sports announced the extension of its exclusive deal until the 2012 NFL season.
In January 2008, EA Sports decided not to renew their NCAA College Baseball license while they evaluated the status of their MVP game engine.
In 2005, EA Sports and ESPN signed a massive 15-year deal for ESPN to be integrated into EA Sports video games from 2K Sports and Sega. EA's use of the ESPN license has steadily increased over the early life of the deal. EA's early usage of the ESPN license began with ESPN Radio and a sports ticker in titles like Madden NFL, NBA Live, Tiger Woods PGA Tour, and NCAA Baseball and Football. The ESPN integration now includes streaming podcasts, text articles (including content only available previously to ESPN Insider subscribers), and ESPN Motion video (including such programs as Pardon the Interruption).
The federal district case O'Bannon v. NCAA, decided in 2014, involved the rights of college athletes to be able to control their likelinesses in downstream products from NCAA properties. The case specifically concerned EA's NCAA Basketball 09 when it was first filed in 2009, leading EA to abandon the NCAA Basketball line that year. The case was ruled in favor of the college athletes, which made licensing of these for EA's games more difficult. While EA had continued the NCAA Football series, the NCAA terminated its license agreement with EA in 2013 due to several factors, including the O'Bannon case as well as issues over comparable licensing fees to the professional sports games.
Following the release of Rory McIlroy PGA Tour in 2015, EA Sports announced that they would end its PGA Tour series after 25 years, with the said game was pulled from digital storefronts in May 2018. 2K Sports announced that they would assume their licensing agreement with the PGA Tour beginning with the release of The Golf Club 2019 featuring PGA Tour in 2018.
The NFL, the NFL's Players' Association, and EA confirmed its exclusivity contract for NFL sports simulation games in May 2020, lasting through at the 2025–2026 NFL season with an optional one-year extension. The new contract allows EA to develop NFL games outside of the typical EA Madden titles, including for mobile games.
In February 2021, EA announced it was returning to college sports with a EA College Football game to be released within the next couple of years. As planned, the game will not use any player likenesses, but instead bypasses the issues with the NCAA by licensing all other branding related to college football such as team names, uniforms, and stadiums through the Collegiate Licensing Company, as at the time of the announcement, the NCAA had not yet reached definitive rules on appropriate payment to players for their likeliness. If such rules are established by the time of the game's release, EA said they would then include player likenesses. However, Notre Dame stated that until such rules are in place, they declined to be part of EA's game. At the time of this announcement, EA stated they had no other agreements with other NCAA sports. Later that month, EA purchased Codemasters, developers of the F1 series, therefore reclaiming the rights to publish F1 games.
EA acquired Metalhead Software in May 2021, the developers of the Super Mega Baseball series. EA stated that they are looking to taking the core aspects of that series to integrate with licensing from the MLB to publish a licensed baseball game again in the future.
EA has had deals with FIFA to use the FIFA name and branding for its EA FIFA series, in additional to over 300 separate deals with the leagues and teams for their names, logos, and player likeness rights. According to The New York Times in October 2021, FIFA had started discussions with EA in the prior two years on renewing these rights towards an exclusivity deal but with several caveats that has made negotiations difficult. Among FIFA's requests was increasing the exclusive license fee to $1 billion over each four-year period between FIFA World Cups, and limiting the scope of this exclusivity to association football simulation games, while EA wanted to expand the branding into new video game ventures such as esports using the game, an area that FIFA wanted to either keep to themselves or license to other developers to expand their own revenues. FIFA issued a statement following this report that stated they had reached an impasse with EA on the negotiations. FIFA's position was that it has "a duty to support its 211 member associations to fully capitalise on the inherent opportunities that have been emerging over the recent years. As part of this strategy, FIFA also commits to continuing to organise skill-based eSports tournaments under the umbrella of the recently launched FIFAe competition structure and consumer brand." To that end, FIFA believed it was necessary that any license agreement "must involve more than one party controlling and exploiting all rights". EA has considered that abandoning the FIFA name would have little impact on the player experience since the league and team licenses would be unaffected. EA had trademarked EA Sports F.C. as a potential replacement name for the series.
On March 2, 2022, EA, along with FIFA, NHL and the NHL Players' Association, the IIHF and F1 announced that they removed any of their names and logo licensing rights involving the Russian and Belarusian teams in both FIFA 22 and NHL 22, citing the recent events related to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The removals from both games could also effect the development of the upcoming F1 2022 game due to release in the Summer of 2022, that is featuring the likeness of Nikita Mazepin, the name of the Russian Grand Prix and the logos of Mazepin's sponsor Uralkali from the game itself.
In June 2009, EA Sports announced that for 2010, the games Madden NFL, NCAA Football, NASCAR, NHL, NBA Live, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour would not be shipped for PC platforms. The NCAA Football series had not been released on the PC since 1998, The Tiger Woods series' last PC game was Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08, the NASCAR series had not had a PC version since NASCAR SimRacing in 2005, and the last Madden series' to be released on PC was Madden NFL 08. The NHL series' last PC game was NHL 09. Likewise, NBA Live 08 was the final PC version for NBA Live.
The head of EA Sports at that time, Peter Moore, cited piracy and the fact that the "PC as a platform for authentic, licensed, simulation sports games has declined radically in the past three years as the next generation consoles [...] have attracted millions of consumers."]
However, the FIFA series continues to be released on PC, and for the first time since 2008, Madden NFL 19 was released for PC. Following EA's purchase with Codemasters, the F1 series would be published by EA on PC.
This section may be too long and excessively detailed. (May 2016)
On April 23, 2009, EA Sports released the long-awaited "EA Sports Complex" space for the PlayStation 3's online community-based service, PlayStation Home in the European and North American versions. In the Complex, users can play a series of mini-games, including poker, kart racing, golf, and it also features a Virtual EA Shop. There are also a number of advertisements for upcoming EA Sports games. Each mini-game that the Complex features has a reward or rewards. Heavy Water, a company dedicated to developing for Home, developed the EA Sports Complex for EA Sports.
Originally, the Complex just featured two rooms: the EA Sports Complex and the EA Sports Complex Upstairs. The EA Sports Complex featured racing and had a golfing range that was unavailable to play. The Upstairs had four poker tables that users could play at any time. With the June 18, 2009 update, the Complex's name changed to the EA Sports Racing Complex and the Upstairs changed to the EA Sports Complex Green Poker Room. Other than the name change, the update took away the golfing range and added four more karts for users to play Racing at and it also added one red poker table to the poker room.
The July 2, 2009 update added golf and another poker room making four rooms for the Complex; the EA Sports Racing Complex, the EA Sports Golf Complex, the EA Sports Complex Green Poker Room, and the EA Sports Complex Red Poker Room. The Racing Complex features Racing with a total of eight karts; four on each side of the Complex. The Golf Complex features two Practice Ranges for golfing; one range on each side of the Complex. A Golf Pro-shop is coming soon for the Golf Complex. The Green Poker Room featured four green poker tables that users can play anytime. The Red Poker Room featured four red poker tables but requires users to have 2,000 points to play.
On July 16, 2009, EA Sports released another room for the Complex making five rooms for the Complex. This room is the game space for Fight Night Round 4 called "Club Fight Night" featuring a mini-game called Club DJ and coming soon, robot boxing.
On July 30, 2009, EA Sports added a Black Poker Table to the EA Sports Complex Red Poker Room for the higher level players. In time, there will be a room dedicated for this table just like the Green Poker Room and the Red Poker Room. They also added a fifth green table to the Green Poker Room. The update also included the addition of the EA Sports Pro Shop where users can purchase full boxing outfits and furniture from Fight Night Round 4. The Pro Shop is found in the Racing Complex. The August 16, 2009 update replaced the fifth green table in the Green Poker Room with a red table. They also reduced the number of points for the Black Table from 20,000 to 10,000. The August 27, 2009 update separated the scoreboards for each level of play – Green, Red, and Black – and into Daily boards and Season boards (left side and right side), improved card readability, additional rail seating near the poker tables, player removal on lockup while playing poker, and player buy-in refund on removal (does not refund on Home disconnect) while playing poker.
On October 9, 2009, EA Sports released the EA Sports Complex to the Japanese version of Home. They also released NFL jerseys for every team in the league for purchase inside of the EA Sports Complex and in Home's shopping complex. EA Sports have also teamed up with the Home team to produce and distribute exclusive virtual items that serve to support National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 100% of proceeds for these items went go to the Brees Dream Foundation in support of breast cancer research and awareness programs. The items are black jerseys with a pink number 9 on the front and the name Brees on the back also in pink. These jerseys were available from October 15, 2009, to November 25, 2009. On November 5, 2009, for those who purchased the Brees Breast Cancer jersey, they received a free DJ kit that is featured in the Club Fight Night space by entering one of the two EA Sports Complex poker rooms between November 5, 2009, and November 25, 2009. On November 25, 2009, Fight Night Round 4 producers Mike Mahar and Brian Hayes were in Home between the hours of 4:00pm and 5:00pm PT (7:00pm and 8:00pm EST), for a live chat with the PlayStation Home community in one instance of the Club Fight Night space. On January 7, 2010, EA Sports released NCAA college football jerseys in the EA Sports Complex and in Home's shopping complex.
Most EA Sports games are distinguished by year, as most games are released on a yearly basis. Nevertheless, as EA Sports is the leading purchaser of official licenses, it is not uncommon that in a short span several games of the same sport but with different licenses are released: FIFA: Road to World Cup 98 was shortly followed by World Cup 98, all in the wake of FIFA Soccer Manager in 1997 (as EA has owned the license for the FIFA World Cup, which happens regularly in four-year intervals, since 1998), and college football and basketball games are released that are based on Madden NFL and NBA Live, respectively.
|Series||Sport||First release||Latest release||Upcoming release|
|Madden||American football||John Madden Football (1988)||Madden NFL 23 (2022)|
|NHL||Ice hockey||NHL Hockey (1991)||NHL 23 (2022)|
|FIFA||Association football||FIFA International Soccer (1993)||FIFA 23 (2022)|
|UFC||Mixed martial arts||EA Sports UFC (2014)||EA Sports UFC 4 (2020)|
|F1||Formula One||F1 2000 (2000)||F1 22 (2022)|
|EA College Football||NCAA football||EA College Football (2024)|
|PGA Tour||Golf||PGA Tour Golf (1990)||Rory McIlroy PGA Tour (2015)||EA Sports PGA Tour (TBD)|
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