NEWS - Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Take Two/Visual Concepts fights EA!

Take Two to get MLB exclusive? NBA to sell genre exclusive licenses? January 18, 2005 - I can't ever remember a more tumultuous time in the history of sports video games. And just when you think you know it all, another bomb is dropped on your lap. EA buys the NFL exclusive. EA buys the ESPN exclusive. But now, here comes the counter punch. Rumors are circulating that the Take Two/Visual Concepts team is in negotiations to buy the exclusive MLB license, and negotiations are almost final. Visual Concepts is the company I had mentioned in a previous column as the ones who went out and locked up a long term deal with Major League Baseball after the NFL exclusive was announced, and now it looks like they were not only granted a long term deal, but are about to make it an exclusive. Word is, it could be an exclusive third party contract, meaning first-party publishers like Sony (989), Microsoft, and Nintendo will still be able to publish games using the real players and teams, but surprisingly, it's mega power EA who will be cut out of the loop. On the NBA front, rumors are spreading throughout the industry that the league is now looking to sell genre-specific exclusives once current deals expire, meaning they want one company to publish sims (NBA Live, NBA 2K5), one to publish street-style games (NBA Street V3, NBA Ballers), and one to publish portables. Sources tell IGN Sports that there is already some major money on the table for each deal, and it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out. The NBA has rejected initial bids for the all-encompassing exclusive, taking the competition from the courts to the negotiating table.


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