Take-Two may have just inked the largest licensing deal for a video game series. The publisher and the National Basketball Association (NBA) came to an agreement this morning and signed a multi year deal for the continued production of their video game series, NBA 2K. With this new deal, Take-Two will now be paying both the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) a staggering $1.1 billion over the next 7 years, which is arguably the biggest licensing deal in video game history.
The details of the deal were not disclosed, but with that much money being invested, it’s safe to assume that they probably have access to every single team, their logos, players and their likeness, as well as any other piece of copyright that can be used by Take-Two’s 2K gaming division, which is spearheaded by the video game developers at Visual Concepts Entertainment. The developer has been at the forefront of nearly every sports title under the 2K banner, and are the proprietary creator of the NBA 2K series. It goes without saying that Visual Concepts will benefit the most out of this deal, as they will continue to have all of the NBA licensing rights to use in their games.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver himself spoke on the new deal with Take-Two: “We are grateful to extend our partnership with Take-Two and the NBPA to build on the enormous popularity of the NBA 2K franchise and the continued global growth of basketball.” According to the Wall Street Journal, this new deal is more than double the amount that was agreed upon back in 2011, which shows just how much the company thinks the NBA is worth in terms of using their license.
The 2K series, which began in 1999, has grown exponentially, becoming the premier video games for licensed sports titles. The NBA 2K franchise in particular has turned into one of the most popular video game series ever. NBA 2K18 sold a record breaking 10 million units, while the most recent iteration, NBA 2K19, was the best selling sports game of 2018. Therefore, it’s not very surprising that Take-Two wants to continue using the NBA’s licenses for their games.
Another huge reason for this deal is mostly likely due to their esports competition, the NBA 2K League, which in 2018 became one of the first tournaments to be operated by a North American sport league. During the draft, Adam Silver was on hand to congratulate the draftees for the league. It’s also important to note that Take-Two owns Rockstar Games, the developer for Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption. With the continued playability of Grand Theft Online, as well as Red Dead Redemption 2 having the biggest opening weekend in entertainment history, the company probably didn’t have too much trouble making that $1 billion dollar deal with the NBA. If anything, they will more than likely make that money back with more games and other deals in the coming years.