Football = EA. EA Picks Up AFL License

The Arena Football League and Electronic Arts (Nasdaq:ERTS) have entered into an exclusive agreement to produce an AFL video game in time for the start of the 2006 AFL season that also allows EA to share in the proceeds of future expansion team sales. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Once again, we are partnering with an industry leader who believes in the AFL philosophy and its growth potential. To the extent that EA helps grow the AFL, they participate in that growth through the increased value of future expansion teams,” said Commissioner David Baker. “EA is the videogame industry’s gold standard. Arguably, nothing is more important to reach the younger male demographic that we are so strong in than video games. For our core fan, this is akin to a network-television agreement.”

Over the next four years and beginning with the 2005 AFL season, EA will partner with the AFL on media and retail marketing, and produce AFL games, the first to be available to consumers at the start of the 2006 AFL season.

“We believe that the business model the AFL has created will provide for a new football experience for videogame fans, and provide EA with an incentive to partner with the AFL to expand the league,” said Larry Probst, Chairman and CEO of EA. “The AFL is a unique brand of football and we intend to deliver a unique football gaming experience from any the industry has seen before. We’re pleased to be working with the league during this exciting growth-period for the AFL.”

The partnership is a perfect match when considering customer demographics of both the AFL and EA. According to the ESPN Sports Poll, the AFL indexes at 186 for ages 12-17 and 127 for ages 18-24. Approximately 46 percent of all 12-17 year olds are fans of the AFL.

This is the first of four sponsor-related partnerships approved by the AFL Board of Directors and is an extension of the industry-changing equity agreement the AFL has with NBC Sports, in which NBC receives a percentage of the increase in AFL team values.

EA joins a growing list of industry leaders who are partnering with and/or sponsoring the AFL. The list includes: Aaron’s, ADT, Champs Sports, NBC, Nike, Spalding, Upper Deck and U.S. Army.

Yup. EA is serious about dominating videogame football. That makes 5 football games: NFL Street, NCAA football, Madden NFL, the managing sim game, and now an AFL game.

That’s actually cool, nice to see that the AFL has reached the point of being viable enough for a game franchise.

I hope they can create a game that has the “feel” of the AFL. It’s a game where going to your “go to guy” is actually expected, unlike the NFL were I was on the phone as a friend was playing Madden 2005 online and listened to him count off 1, 2, 3… 20 catches for Alge Crumpler in one game.

Its cool we’re going to see an AFL game. I actually always wanted one, its a more “made for gaming” type of a football. However, seeing EA doing it makes me cry inside.