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NFL 2K5 Cover.png
Box art featuring Terrell Owens
Developer(s)Visual Concepts
SeriesNFL 2K
Platform(s)PlayStation 2, Xbox
  • NA: July 20, 2004
  • EU: February 4, 2005
Genre(s)Football (American) simulation
Mode(s)Single player, Multiplayer, Online

ESPN NFL 2K5 is an American football video game developed by Visual Concepts and published by 2K Sports and the Sega Corporation. It is the sixth installment 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 (EA) signed an exclusive rights agreement with the National Football League (NFL) to make 2K's rival Madden NFL series the only officially licensed NFL game and was also the last game still being developed by Sega.


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 Jr. 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 team's city, the team's stadium look and build, jerseys 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.

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 Bowl players. 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.

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 Jr., 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.


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".[1] 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.[2]

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.[3] Electronic Arts settled the class action suit in July 2012 for $27 million (equivalent to about $30M in 2019), and retained its exclusive NFL license.[4][5]

Reception and sales[edit]

Aggregate scores
GameRankings(PS2) 87.84% [6]
(Xbox) 90.52%[7]
Metacritic(PS2) 90/100
(Xbox) 92/100
Review scores
Game Informer9.5/10
GamePro5/5 stars
GameSpy4.5/5 stars

By July 2006, the PlayStation 2 version of ESPN NFL 2K5 had sold 1.7 million copies and earned $33 million in the United States. Next Generation ranked it as the 23rd highest-selling game launched for the PlayStation 2, Xbox or GameCube between January 2000 and July 2006 in that country. Combined sales of ESPN NFL console games released in the 2000s reached 3 million units in the United States by July 2006.[8]

Upon release, ESPN NFL 2K5 received critical acclaim from critics. Game Informer summarized their positive review by calling it "the best football title there is and the only one that's a must have," a quote which was paraphrased on the front cover of the game's keep case. Chris Carle of IGN praised the game's various features, particularly the VIP system, which he called, "Probably the coolest innovation ESPN NFL 2K5 has to offer." GamePro noted that "the tight controls do a great job of commanding a slick array of player moves and on-the-fly scheme adjustments" and praised the incorporation of ESPN broadcast styles within the game. Many reviews compared NFL 2K5 to Madden NFL 2005, which was released in the same year. In a direct comparison of the two games, GameSpot recommended NFL 2K5, noting superior offensive gameplay, special teams, online play, features, presentation, graphics, and sound.

In retrospective analyses, ESPN NFL 2K5 has continued to receive favorable comparisons to the Madden NFL series and has been acclaimed as the greatest football video game ever. In 2014, Owen Good of Polygon wrote that NFL 2K5 was "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 went on to state that EA's Madden 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".[9] A 2016 Game Informer retrospective by Matthew Kato praised the variety of features in the game, which was noted as "a far cry from the stark decline that followed in EA's NFL titles." Kato concluded by stating, "The title is more than just a novelty or a case of its reputation exceeding its value, a rare feat for the genre in my eyes." Also in 2016, Time ranked ESPN NFL 2K5 as the 41st greatest video game of all-time, stating, "Sorry, Madden NFL fans, true football gaming fanatics know this is the best gridiron game ever made."[10]


In 2005, the game won the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Interactive Achievement Award for Sports Simulation Game of the Year.[11]


  1. ^ Bissell, Tom (January 17, 2012). "Kickoff: Madden NFL and the Future of Video Game Sports". ESPN Internet Ventures, LLC. Retrieved January 21, 2012.
  2. ^ Cobbs, Chris (December 15, 2004). "Electronic Arts Scores Nfl Exclusive". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  3. ^ Pigna, Kris (December 23, 2010). "Judge Allows Madden "Price Fixing" Lawsuit to Proceed". Archived from the original on July 26, 2012. Retrieved February 26, 2012.
  4. ^ Albanesius, Chloe (July 23, 2012). "EA Settles Football Game Class-Action Suit for $27 Million". PC Magazine. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  5. ^ Good, Owen (April 16, 2013). "The Madden Class-Action Settlement Triples Its Payout to Gamers". Kotaku. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
  6. ^ "ESPN NFL 2K5 for PlayStation 2 - GameRankings".
  7. ^ "ESPN NFL 2K5 for Xbox - GameRankings".
  8. ^ Campbell, Colin; Keiser, Joe (July 29, 2006). "The Top 100 Games of the 21st Century". Next Generation. Archived from the original on October 28, 2007.
  9. ^ Good, Owen S. (July 20, 2014). "NFL 2K5 — sports gaming's King Arthur — launched 10 years ago today". Retrieved January 25, 2015.
  10. ^ Fitzpatrick, Alex; Pullen, John Patrick; Raab, Josh; Grossman, Lev; Eadicicco, Lisa; Peckham, Matt; Vella, Matt (August 23, 2016). "The 50 Best Video Games of All Time". TIME. Time Inc. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  11. ^ "2005 8th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards". Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2011-07-13.

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