File this under “We’re not surprised”, but 2K announced today that they’ve reached an agreement with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) to use over 2,000 NFL football player names and likenesses in multiple upcoming, unnamed, “not-a-sim” football games.

This agreement was all but guaranteed when 2K reached a multi-year, multi-game licensing agreement with the NFL back in March.  Still, the player license must be negotiated separately because individual players are represented through the NFLPA union, not the NFL.

David Ismailer, President of 2K, stated: “We want to give fans experiences that are authentic, memorable and fun, and having a roster of real-life sports heroes through the Players Association and OneTeam is a huge part of delivering on that promise.”

Today’s announcement marks progress in 2K’s return to the football game market after a 13 year hiatus.  2K exited the NFL football game market in 2005 after EA purchased an exclusive NFL license.  2K released just one final unlicensed football game in 2007.

Not much is known yet of 2K’s future plans for football games.  They have consistently stated that there will be multiple games, with launches starting in “calendar year 2021” and that they will use the “NFL 2K” branding.

Ahmad Nassar, CEO of OneTeam Partners said of the agreement, “Sports video gaming is a massive growth category, and the partnership between the NFLPA and 2K presents an opportunity not only to excite current gamers but also reach untapped future audiences,”

Indeed, this agreement comes on the same day that EA announced 140% YoY increase in Madden player acquisition during their FY21 Q1 earnings report. This suggests that there is still room for growth in the football game market.

This is the first major contract negotiation involving OneTeam representation.  OneTeam is a joint marketing effort founded last November by the NFL and MLB player unions, along with RedBird Capital, to negotiate player licensing rights.  OneTeam currently represents NFLPA, MLBPA, Major League Soccer Players Association, United States Women’s National Team Players Association, Women’s National Basketball Players Association, and United States Rugby Players Association.  Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.