Here’s three possible ideas that could happen now that 2K is making NFL-licensed video games again.
After more than a decade of EA Sports owning the NFL license on consoles, 2K has entered a new partnership with the NFL to make a “non-simulation” football game. This is exciting for a variety of reasons, even if the emphasis on non-simulation could be a downer for some. For the purposes of this here Nintendo-focused website, we might cover an NFL video game for the first time since 2012.
To start, let’s go over the differences between a simulation sports game and an arcade sports game. Simulation is best represented by Madden, FIFA, and the NBA 2K series. It’s when the game you play is close to the actual professional games. While they aren’t always super realistic, the goal is authenticity, with how players act and how the game’s overall presentation is. An arcade sports game is less realistic. The Mario sports games are good examples of arcade sports, but they can also have league-licensed versions as well, such as NBA Jam and NFL Blitz. Those two feature real players, but have over-the-top aspects, like players going on fire.
With that out of the way, let’s rampantly speculate on possible results of this new NFL and 2K partnership.
1. NFL 2K Playgrounds
The clearest past example of an NFL non-simulation video game is NFL Blitz, but as far as we can tell, EA still owns the rights to the name NFL Blitz, though the last iteration of Midway-created franchise was in 2012. The next clearest past example of an NFL non-simulation video game is NFL Street, but as far as we can tell, EA still owns the rights to the name NFL Street, though the last iteration of that franchise was in 2006. EA, if you can’t tell, has owned the NFL license for video games for 15 years.
With that in mind, if 2K was to go the classic arcade route, I’d expect them to make use of the Playgrounds franchise, which they purchased in 2018. NBA Playgrounds and NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 both came out for Switch, offering somewhere in the court of middling NBA Jam-esque gameplay. I’m not the biggest fan of the NBA Playgrounds games, but in the right hands, a prospective NFL 2K Playgrounds could offer up a fun backyard-style football experience. It would probably be the easiest way for 2K to make use of fond Blitz and Street memories in a brand new game.
2. NFL 2K Flag Football
So 2K can’t make a simulation football game? Let’s take the realest graphics you can and plop Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Jones, JJ Watt, Za’darius Smith, and David Bakhtiari in that park near your house so they can ball out playing flag football. With the NFL wanting to publicly shy away from the brutality of the game, this might be a good video game version of the sport to trumpet. See, he’s not getting a concussion; he just got his flag ripped off hard.
This could also be an avenue for a tie-in with the Backyard Sports franchise, which seems like it might be back in the hands of the original developers Humongous Entertainment after years of bouncing around corporate overlords because of bankruptcy and junk. Bring back Pablo Sanchez! He was basically Mahomes before Mahomes!
3. Mario NFL Play Action Football
This is a longshot, but maybe just maybe, 2K and Nintendo are working together on one of my pie-in-the-sky dream games: a Mario sports game based on American football. Not only would this bring the likes of Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Peach, Bowser, Wario, Waluigi, all the Koopa Kids, Goombas, Monty Moles, Chargin’ Chucks, Shy Guys, and more, but Mario NFL Play Action Football could be a throwback to Nintendo’s football series from the NES and SNES era: Play Action Football.
While the existence of a Mario NFL Play Action Football might have to go hand-in-hand with one of the other two options, since 2K is primarily a multiplatform publisher, a Mario-flavored Nintendo exclusive would likely perform better on Switch than a more basic NFL game.
As far as a developer, I’d love to see Camelot take a crack at a new Mario-themed sport, but it would also be cool to get some new blood working on Mario NFL Play Action Football. Seeing 2K Sports developer Visual Concepts handle this idea could be fun, but maybe this could lead to a new partnership with a Western developer for Nintendo, like maybe Mutant Football League developer Digital Dreams Entertainment or, I don’t know, maybe Super Mega Baseball developer Metalhead Software has a passionate group of NFL fans raring to make the Super Smash Bros. compete with the Super Smith Bros. (I will not apologize for being a Green Bay Packer fan).
Source for Super Smith Bros. image https://twitter.com/packers/status/1174125877443141635