Midway finds a silver lining in EA’s exclusivity deal with the NFL.

Turns out at least one video game publisher isn’t all that upset with the deal between Electronic Arts and the NFL. Midway is embracing the news with an announcement that they’re going to release a new game in their NFL Blitz franchise that will be the most “mature” version ever created.

Since the NFL granted an exclusive license to video games rival Electronic Arts Inc., Midway said, it can create its own football game that stretches the limits of what video game players have seen before from sports titles.

“No longer bound to the NFL license, there will be no league restrictions on content and gamers will finally experience what makes playing a football video game really fun: off-field controversies, dirty hits, excessive celebrations and much more,” Midway marketing chief Steve Allison said in a statement.

“Blitz: Playmakers,” featuring a fictional league and fictional teams and players, is scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of 2005, a Midway spokesman said.

The Blitz mantra has long been: No refs, no rules, and no mercy. The result being games that are very over-the-top with an emphasis on fast and furious game play taking precedence over anything resembling realism. Smaller teams, shortened play fields, special effects laden player power-ups, and the ability to lay some serious smack down on your opponents all combined to make a testosterone junkie’s wet dream. It also tended to generate no small amount of criticism for the level of violence displayed which the folks at the NFL were particularly uncomfortable with. So the NFL applied a little pressure to the folks at Midway to tone things down a bit if they wanted to keep their NFL license. Midway complied and last year’s NFL Blitz Pro took the game away from its arcade action roots and more into the simulation genre long dominated by the likes of EA’s Madden Football series. They also toned down the violence quite a bit netting it an “E for Everyone” rating. Game reviewers weren’t overly impressed and sales of the game were disappointing. The most common complaint was that it suffered from a personality crisis by trying to appeal to fans of the previous games while also trying to attract fans of the more realistic simulations and it didn’t accomplish either of these objectives very effectively.

Needless to say, this deal between EA and the NFL could be a blessing in disguise for Midway and they appear ready to grab that ball and run with it as far as they can.

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