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May 28, 2020

Electronic Arts jumps after 'Madden NFL' game rights extended

The Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) logo is displayed on computer monitors during the company's EA Play event ahead of the E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Saturday, June 9, 2018. EA announced that it is introducing a higher-end version of its subscription game-playing service that will include new titles such as Battlefield V and the Madden NFL 19 football game. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

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Electronic Arts Inc. rose to a near two-year high after the company announced a multiyear renewal of its deal to produce the Madden NFL football video games, as well as develop new titles and esports programs.

The announcement Thursday removes major uncertainty about the future of the company’s blockbuster football franchise, which has been growing gangbusters during the coronavirus lockdown. In April, player levels nearly doubled from last year, the company said.

In March, rival Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. said it will produce its first NFL-licensed football games in more than a decade. That led some analysts to worry that Take-Two — which now has rights to games that don’t simulate life-like football games the way Madden does — might be in the running for the Electronic Arts deal as well.

Financial terms of the agreement weren’t announced, but the Sports Business Journal reported that the extension runs through at least 2025. The parties said the accord includes games in new genres, such as expanded offerings for mobile players and more esports activity. The previous contract was set to expire in 2022.

Electronic Arts shares rose 3.4 per cent to US$121.35 at the close in New York, their highest since August 2018.