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2K's upcoming NFL games will feature real pro players

A deal the publisher signed covers more than 2,000 current professional players.

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2K's forthcoming football games will feature real NFL pros thanks to a new deal the publisher signed with the NFL Players Association. The agreement allows the company to use the names, numbers, images and likenesses of more than 2,000 current professional NFL players.

“We’re thrilled to be working with the NFLPA and OneTeam to bring the biggest and best stars in football to the games we’re working on,” said 2K President David Ismailer. “We want to give fans experiences that are authentic, memorable and fun, and having a roster of real-life sports heroes through the Players Association and OneTeam is a huge part of delivering on that promise.”

2K did not disclose the financial terms of the deal.

The deal builds on an earlier agreement 2K signed in March to use the official NFL license in a series of upcoming football games. But don't expect 2K to make a Madden competitor. The NFL deal allows the publisher to develop "non-simulation football game experiences." Earlier in the year, EA locked up the rights to create realistic, simulation-based NFL games through to May 2026. When 2K announced the NFL deal in March, Ismailer said the company planned to make football games "centered on fun, approachable and social experiences."

2K hasn't made an NFL title since 2004 when it released ESPN NFL 2K5. But you won’t have to wait long to play its newest football games. The publisher plans to release the first one in 2021.