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Box art for ESPN NFL 2K5
Box art for the Xbox version.
Developer(s) Visual Concepts
Publisher(s) 2K Sports
Series NFL 2K
Platform(s) PlayStation 2, Xbox
Release date(s)
  • NA July 20, 2004
  • EU February 4, 2005
Genre(s) Football (American) simulation
Mode(s) Single player, Multiplayer, Online
Distribution DVD-ROM

ESPN NFL 2K5 is an American football video game developed by Visual Concepts and published by 2K Sports and the Sega Corporation. It is a part of the NFL 2K series. The game was originally released on July 20, 2004, for both the PlayStation 2 and Xbox video game consoles. It was the last NFL 2K game to be released before Electronic Arts signed an exclusivity deal with the NFL to make 2K's rival Madden NFL series the only officially licensed NFL game. Has full NFLPA Licensing.[1]


The game features a franchise mode with a SportsCenter feature hosted by Chris Berman. He outlines the games of the current week with his co-host Trey Wingo who talks about the latest injuries and free agent deals and trades during the season. Mel Kiper hosts the draft portion of the segment while Suzy Kolber reports from the sidelines. There is also weekly preparation for the coming week which allows the player to make decisions on training and preparation. The player can also create his or her own team deciding the team logos (over 10 are available), team name, the teams city, the teams stadium look and build, jersey's and how good the team is. It also has a feature called first-person football, which gives the player the experience on the field looking from the eyes of the players. There is also the traditional create-a-player mode.

ESPN NFL 2K5’s V.I.P. System records the data from various challengers, letting gamers view vital information to truly scout and study different skills and strategies. How often does an opponent call audibles or use hot routes What type of special moves does a challenger like to use How often does an adversary run to the left or right and with how much success Through the V.I.P. System, an incredible amount of in-depth information can prove to be useful in developing a player’s gameplay abilities.

ESPN NFL 2K5 allows the gamer to load up any V.I.P. data collected from playing against human opponents onto a CPU team so a player can practice against their strategies, style of play, and tendencies. Additionally, it serves as a great way to preview upcoming online opponents as you can download V.I.P. System profiles online. If that’s not enough, Coach Profiles are provided for every NFL coach, allowing fans to explore and play limitless scenarios, such as Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden leading the Green Bay Packers.

Pricing and exclusivity[edit]

ESPN NFL 2K5 was the first in the 2K series priced at $19.99 the day it shipped, much lower than market leader Madden NFL at $49.99. This greatly reduced Madden sales that year; one EA Sports developer recalled that "[i]t scared the hell out of us".[2] EA reduced Madden NFL 2005 '​s price to $29.95. In December 2004 EA Sports acquired an exclusive rights agreement with the NFL and NFLPA to be the sole creator of NFL video games.[3] The deal terminated 2K Sports production of any further NFL games. The ensuing season, Madden 2006, saw pricing returned to the $49.99 MSRP.

Many gamers believe that EA originated exclusivity rights talks with the NFL and NFLPA in order to prevent 2K Sports from eating into their Madden sales figures. However, the unconfirmed rumor is that the NFL and NFLPA wanted just one franchise to have the rights. EA, being the bigger company with more money than the fledgling 2K Sports, outbid 2K and won the exclusivity rights. Though gamers suspicions cannot be definitively confirmed, the fact that EA also subsequently acquired the exclusive rights to NCAA Football, Arena football, and ESPN for 15 years (which completely removed the teeth of 2K's ESPN Football franchise) effectively shutting 2K out of any chance of having a licensed American football game, gives gamers a plausible reason to be highly suspicious of EA's intention.

In December 2010, A U.S. district court judge certified a class action anti-trust lawsuit against Electronic Arts for anti-competitive practices to proceed.[4] Pending the outcome of the suit, 2K Sports could be granted NFL rights again which would permit the series to continue. In February 2011, however, EA extended the exclusive contract until 2013.

Celebrity game[edit]

One of the features in the game is a celebrity game involving Jamie Kennedy, Steve-O, David Arquette, Funkmaster Flex, or Carmen Electra which is initiated by a phone call from one of the aforementioned "celebrities" in the player's custom crib. The player plays against a celebrity with his or her own custom team of Pro Bowlers. The teams the celebrities use are The Buartville Funkmasters, Cincinnati Electra Shock, LA Dreamteam, Los Angeles Locos, and the Upper Darby Cheesesteaks. During the game the celebrities appear in a small box and use trash-talk. If the player wins the game, they receive the team's stadium as a playable venue.

Voice Talent[edit]

ESPN NFL 2K5 features the voices of Terry McGovern as play-by-play announcer Dan Stevens, Jay Styne as color commentator Peter O'Keefe, sideline reporter Suzy Kolber, studio host Chris Berman, Trey Wingo, and Mel Kiper, with Berman appearing at the start of a player's own SportsCenter broadcast and during the loading screen for the player's own ESPN NFL Countdown pregame show, and Kolber appearing in the Player of the Game segment of the postgame show.

Reception & Sales[edit]

ESPN NFL 2K5 was critically acclaimed across the media spectrum. IGN was quoted as saying "ESPN NFL 2K5 will own your soul." GamePro was quoted as saying that it's "The most entertaining show in video game football." Game Informer went on record to say that ESPN NFL 2K5 is "The one football game you must have."

To date, ESPN NFL 2K5 has sold over 4.26 million copies worldwide, making it one of the most successful football video games of all time. ESPN NFL 2K5 also holds the distinction of being one of the rare football games to have continued to sell new copies many years after its release.

In 2014 Owen Good Polygon wrote that "few other games — in any genre — have remained a constant part of modern conversation despite not publishing in a decade, and with no sign ever of returning". He called NFL 2K5 "sports video gaming's King Arthur, eternally populist, noble and heroic, champion of an age long ago enough to make its triumphs soar and its shortcomings recede to nothingness". Good stated that Madden NFL '​s developers "for 10 years have been haunted by NFL 2K5 — in forums, in comments, in social media — that nothing they do could be as good as something that by now really isn't a video game, but a mythological ideal that grows more romantic with every year".[5]


In 2005, the game won the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Interactive Achievement Award for Sports Simulation Game of the Year.[6]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Bissell, Tom (2012-01-17). "Kickoff: Madden NFL and the Future of Video Game Sports". Grantland. Retrieved January 21, 2012. 
  3. ^ Cobbs, Chris (2004-12-15). "Electronic Arts Scores Nfl Exclusive". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved December 10, 2012. 
  4. ^ Pigna, Kris (December 23, 2010). "Judge Allows Madden "Price Fixing" Lawsuit to Proceed". Retrieved February 26, 2012. 
  5. ^ Good, Owen S. (2014-07-20). "NFL 2K5 — sports gaming's King Arthur — launched 10 years ago today". Polygon. Retrieved 25 January 2015. 
  6. ^ "2005 8th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards". Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2011-07-13. 

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