This morning, EA announced it would be extending its partnership with the National Hockey League and the NHL Players Association. The announcement comes only a few weeks after the release of NHL 21. The multi-year deal guarantees EA will be able to continue making future NHL games with player likenesses thanks to the NHLPA. The press release does not specify the length of the extension.
Something the press release does address directly is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While sports had to sideline for the sake of safety, sports games stepped up to help fill the void. NHL Chief Brand Officer, Brian Jennings, highlights this in the release, saying “The past eight months illustrates how EA is a critical extension to real-world sports, as fans turned to EA SPORTS NHL to play and watch hockey while we temporarily paused during the pandemic. Our shared approach for competitive gaming has enabled the league to create a touchpoint to younger fans who may experience the NHL for the first time through EA SPORTS NHL. Sustained connection that enhances fandom is what EA delivers and we look forward to continuing the incredible partnership.”
Solid Games Lead To More Solid Games
This extension shouldn’t come as a surprise. Unlike EA’s Madden franchise, which renewed its deal with the NFL earlier this year despite online backlash, the NHL series is critically well-received. The extension lines up with the inclusion of NHL 94 Rewind perfectly. Part of what made NHL 94 such a cult classic was it’s realism. What set NHL 94 apart from its predecessors? Team names and Player likenesses. NHL 94 was the first EA NHL game that was officially licensed by both the NHL and NHLPA. Extending its multi-year licensing deal the same year as a throwback to their first licensed game is an interesting little easter egg.
NHL 21 is out now on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. If you’re curious whether you should pick it up or wait for next gen, you can read our review here. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook so you don’t miss any NHL 21 news or updates.