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Even without a new CBA, there will be "Madden"

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By PFW staff

For millions of football fans around the country, the official sign that football season is one the way is the release of EA Sports' "Madden" video game in mid-August. But what if there is no football season this year? According to the Sports Business Daily Journal, the video game still will be released.

EA Sports, which has exclusive licensing deal with the NFL and NFLPA to create the game, will pay a reduced fee next season for the league's team names, logos and colors, given the uncertainty of the league's labor situation. The report did not say how much of a discount the video game company would receive.

"For one of our core partners in a difficult environment, we say let's look at this, and maybe it makes some sense to extend something out longer and give our partner some relief in the short term but gain something on the back end," Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver said to the newspaper. Weaver is chairman of the NFL's business ventures committee.

For most of the businesses that have a relationship with the players' association, the lack of a new CBA voids their contracts. EA Sports, however, has a separate deal with the NFLPA for player likeness that runs through 2012. According to the article, the biggest problem for the video game is that it likely would see a decrease in sales if games were canceled.

"If there are lost NFL games in 2011, the market could shrink substantially and devalue the licensing contracts.

Last season, "Madden NFL 11" shipped more than five million units, making it EA Sports' second-most popular game of the year.

The way we see it

People will still buy "Madden" even if there's no new football to be played, because fans will be looking for their fix any way they can get it. But the sales will likely see a huge dip — and that's why the NFL is giving EA Sports a break on the licensing fees. This is also a sign that the NFL does not expect a new CBA to be reached by mid-summer.

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