NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – Add NCAA football to Electronic Arts' list of video game exclusives.
The College Licensing Co. has signed a six-year exclusive agreement with the publisher, making EA the only company who can use NCAA schools, stadiums and teams in upcoming games. The first, "NCAA Football 2006," will be out this summer.
It's the third exclusive football licensed secured by EA in the past four months. In December, EA and the NFL signed a five-year exclusivity deal, which eliminated all competition in the football simulation field. Earlier this year, EA locked up rights to Arena Football games. Also, ESPN has signed a 15-year deal with EA, giving the company full access to its broadcast, print and online components, as well as all of its personalities.
"When we began our analysis of the videogame landscape, it became apparent that EA SPORTS was best positioned from a marketing and development perspective to maximize the sales opportunities for college football," Pat Battle, CEO of The Collegiate Licensing Company, said in a statement.
EA (Research) was the only video game publisher to produce an NCAA football game in 2004, though many were expecting Take Two Interactive Software (Research) to explore the NCAA as an alternate option after losing rights to the NFL.
Sports games account for more than 20 percent of all video games sold – and football titles are by far the leader in that category. They appeal to a widespread audience and consistently top the sales charts. For EA, in particular, they've been a windfall, selling over 40 million copies over the past 15 years.
While NCAA football games don't sell nearly as well as EA's flagship "Madden" franchise, they're hardly miniscule. "NCAA 2004" sold over 1 million copies last year – with over 600,000 units flying off store shelves in the first week.
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