Electronic Arts, parent company to popular video game developer EA Sports, has signed multi-year renewals of its partnerships with the NHL and UFC to continue making simulation games for both sports, it announced on Nov. 5.
The latest iterations of both games were released recently: “EA Sports UFC 4” came out on Aug.14 and “EA Sports NHL 21” on Oct. 16. EA also released “NHL 94 Rewind” — which features current players with controls and graphics from the popular 1994 edition — as a pre order add-on to NHL 21.
Users played more than 64 million simulated UFC fights during UFC 4’s launch week, a 125% increase year-over-year increase compared to the previous edition, UFC said in an announcement. Launch weekend, timed to coincide with UFC 252: Miocic vs. Cormier 3, drove a spike spike of almost 75% more players than “EA Sports UFC 3.”
NHL 21’s launch garnered the most daily active players for the franchise in the last three years. The NHL franchise debuted in 1991, making it the third-oldest of EA Sports’ franchises after Madden and NBA Live.
“‘EA Sports NHL’ continues to introduce new fans to the sport through its realistic and entertaining approach to the game,” NHL Chief Brand Officer & Senior Executive Vice President Brian Jennings said in an announcement. “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.”
The length of the NHL extension was not disclosed, while UFC’s is for 10 years. UFC is EA Sports’ newest franchise — the first game was released in 2014.
“EA Sports has become a natural extension of UFC’s brand and an important way to engage with our fans,” UFC SVP, Global Consumer Products Tracey Bleczinski said. “We’ve just launched our most successful game to date and EA keeps proving there’s room to grow and introduce new fans to the sport. We’re going to keep pushing the boundaries together and make incredible games that UFC fans love to play.”
As part of the UFC extension, the parties will also partner on “innovative new experiences and more ways for fans around the world to connect with the excitement of MMA.” Among them, an expansion of platforms the game is available on, including a future mobile component.
Video game-related companies have surged amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and Electronic Arts is no exception. Net revenue for its first quarter of fiscal year 2021 was $1.46 billion, up from $1.21 billion for the same quarter last year.
Electronic Arts reports its Q2 earnings after market close on Nov. 5. The company’s stock price is up nearly 19% this year.