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Genres Sports
Developers Visual Concepts
Publishers Sega Sports
Platforms Dreamcast, GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox
Platform of origin Dreamcast
Year of inception 1999
First release NFL 2K
September 9, 1999
Latest release NFL 2K5
July 20, 2004
Spin-offs All Pro Football 2K8

NFL 2K is an American football video game series developed by Visual Concepts and published by Sega.[1] Based on the National Football League, the series was originally exclusive to Sega's Dreamcast video game console. As the foremost "2K" title, it marked the beginning of a running athletics series that eventually led to the spinning off of 2K's sports publishing business under the name of 2K Sports.

Upon the Dreamcast's discontinuation, the series continued to be published for other sixth generation game systems and became the chief competitor of EA Sports's Madden NFL series. However, after the competitively priced NFL 2K5 significantly reduced sales of that year's Madden release, EA signed an exclusivity deal with the NFL that made Madden NFL the only series allowed to use NFL team and player names.

After losing the NFL license, Visual Concepts made a brief return to developing football games with the release of All-Pro Football 2K8, which featured former NFL players.


The NFL 2K series was introduced by Sega to address EA Sports's decision not to publish the Madden NFL series on the Dreamcast. The first two installments (NFL 2K and NFL 2K1) were exclusive to the Dreamcast, but with the demise of the system, the NFL 2K series was repositioned as the main multiplatform rival to the Madden NFL series. With the cancellation of the NFL GameDay (989 Sports) and NFL Fever (Microsoft Game Studios) franchises, the series truly became Madden NFL's primary competition.

In what Grantland later called "one of the greatest, most insidious guerrilla-warfare moves in the history of video game competition", Sega released ESPN NFL 2K5 in July 2004 for $19.99, giving the game significant market share versus the $49.95 Madden NFL. One EA developer recalled that Sega's aggressive pricing "scared the hell out of us"; EA later reduced Madden NFL‍ '​s price to $29.95.[2][3]

However, in December 2004, EA signed an exclusive agreement with the NFL for an undisclosed amount of money, making Madden NFL the only series allowed to use NFL team and player names.Comparatively, the NFL signed a similar six year exclusivity deal with Visa Inc. worth $400 million in January 2004.[4] EA also signed an agreement with ESPN to become the only licensee of ESPN's brand in sports games on all platforms. This was an immense blow to Sega's franchise in their MLB, NBA, and NHL series. EA's NFL licensing rights will end in a couple years. [5]

The commentary was done by the fictional Dan Stevens (Terry McGovern) and Peter O'Keefe (Jay Styne). The fictional Michelle Westphal (Marcia Perry) provided occasional sideline reports from NFL 2K until NFL 2K3, while ESPN NFL Football and ESPN NFL 2K5 featured sideline reporting from ESPN's real-life Suzy Kolber.


Title Availability Release Cover Athlete Team
Sega Sony Microsoft Nintendo
NFL 2K Dreamcast None None None September 9, 1999 Randy Moss Minnesota Vikings
NFL 2K1 Dreamcast None None None September 7, 2000
NFL 2K2 Dreamcast PS2 Xbox None September 19, 2001
NFL 2K3 None PS2 Xbox Gamecube August 21, 2002 Brian Urlacher Chicago Bears
ESPN NFL Football None PS2 Xbox None September 3, 2003 Warren Sapp Tampa Bay Buccaneers
ESPN NFL 2K5 None PS2 Xbox None July 20, 2004 Terrell Owens Philadelphia Eagles

2K Sports has a spiritual successor to the NFL 2K series, in the form of All-Pro Football 2K8, released in 2007.[6] The game features a fictional league known as the "All-Pro League", or APL. The APL consists of 24 teams that are grouped into six divisions of four teams each. Former NFL players appear in the game such as Joe Montana, Barry Sanders, John Elway, Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, and Johnny Unitas.


  1. ^ "NFL 2K series". MobyGames. 
  2. ^ Bissell, Tom (January 17, 2012). "Kickoff: Madden NFL and the Future of Video Game Sports". Grantland. Retrieved January 21, 2012. 
  3. ^ Cobbs, Chris (December 15, 2004). "Electronic Arts Scores Nfl Exclusive". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved December 10, 2012. 
  4. ^ Rovell, Darren (December 14, 2004). "All Madden, all the time". ESPN. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "All-Pro Football 2K8". MobyGames. 

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