Until three years ago, Take-Two put out a popular series called NFL 2K, which featured big-name players in the league. It sold well, though not nearly as well as the leading football video game, Madden NFL, which was owned by Take-Two’s top rival, Electronic Arts.
But the dynamics changed late in 2004, when Electronic Arts entered into an exclusive, five-year agreement with the National Football League and Players Inc., the licensing and marketing subsidiary of the N.F.L. Players Association, to develop, publish and distribute football video games. The pact ended the ability of Take-Two to feature current N.F.L. players in its games.
Rather than admitting defeat, Take-Two fought back. Last week it introduced a game featuring retired National Football League players, who are not covered under the deal with Electronic Arts.