E3 2012: Electronic Arts announces exclusive deal with UFC. Can THQ survive?

Electronic Arts didn’t need to show its new mixed martial arts video game during its E3 2012 presentation—It just needed to say three little letters out loud and in conjunction with one another: UFC.

The only real surprise during the publisher’s press conference was the arrival of Ultimate Fighting Championship’s Dana White on stage announcing that his league is now engaged in a multi-year exclusive deal that will have EA publishing UFC video games around the world. No timeline for release, no developer, no game play footage to speak of, just a commitment of the brand to the publisher.

When Electronic Arts announced its first attempt at the sport in 2009, EA MMA, the industry scoffed. How could EA compete without the license that’s made mixed martial arts a global phenomenon? Now EA Sports can compete in yet another enormous market.

This is also one more nail in THQ’s coffin. The publisher was kept alive at the end of 2011 thanks to the unexpectedly strong sales of UFC: Undisputed 3, but without the license, THQ has one less earning property to help keep it afloat. 2K Games boss Strauss Zelnick may be right: THQ could be dead in six months.

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