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The NFL Pro Bowl 2021 will be virtual, with players competing in Madden

EA Sports M21 Madden 21 video game

Source: EA Sports

It was supposed to be a stellar event in Las Vegas. Instead, the 2021 Pro Bowl will be held virtually, with players facing directly into Electronic Arts’ Madden NFL ’21 video game, the league announced on Tuesday.

As a sign of the times, EA Sports and the National Football League have teamed up to create a week-long series of virtual matches that will include celebrities, football legends and current players leading up to the main event ̵

1; Mad Game among the league’s best players. The exact date of the game is still being determined.

“We’re excited to revive this virtually and be the first to do so,” Peter O’Reilly, executive vice president of the club’s NFL club business and league, told CNBC. “It’s an opportunity to connect with young fans in a way that’s really accessible.”

The Pro Bowl usually pits the best players from the two NFL conferences – the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference – against each other in a game that takes place the week before the Super Bowl. But last month, the NFL announced it would cancel the 2021 Pro Bowl because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The game, which typically attracts about 8.5 million viewers, was scheduled to be played in Las Vegas at the Allegiant Stadium on January 31.

Instead, the group of elite players will hit their game consoles and shout garbage as they go head to head in Madden. The league says the AFC vs. NFC format will remain the same.

“You can imagine Patrick Mohames playing like himself as an AFC quarterback against Aaron Donald on the part of the NFC. So attract these players into the game and allow celebrities and others to be part of this virtual game and obviously allow fans to see that and be a part of it, “O’Reilly said.

The NFL is developing details of the broadcast arrangement with Disney-owned ABC and ESPN, but the event will be broadcast on all major social media channels.

“We will not put all this focus and energy into this in a big way without ensuring that there is real proliferation in prominent streaming platforms, and we hope that there will be significant integration with ESPN and ABC,” O’Reilly said.

EA Sports M21 Madden 21 video game

Source: EA Sports

O’Reilly said EA Sports was the most natural way to host this virtual event, as it reached the key demographic group the NFL has targeted for millennia. For EA Sports, this is an opportunity to develop Madden from a video game to a more interactive way of consuming sports.

“As the sport continues to change, we are in the game with partners like the NFL to find out what the next generation of fans will want in interactive sports experiences and entertainment. It’s specifically designed for that,” said Chris Bruzzo, chief marketing officer. at EA Sports.

Bruzzo said the experience would look similar to the real Pro Bowl game, with a virtual version of Allegiant Stadium and a prominent place for sponsors like Verizon. (Allegiant Stadium will host the 2022 Pro Bowl as well as the NFL Draft as makeup for this year’s Pro Bowl.)

The voting process will be the same as the previous Pro Bowls. Starting Tuesday, fans can vote for players they think are worthy of Pro Bowl honors through NFL.com, their Madden consoles and on Twitter. NFL players and coaches will vote on December 18. The choice of Pro Bowl is determined by the consensus votes of fans, players and coaches.

Selected players will still receive a financial bonus – as stated in the collective agreement between the players and the leagues, as well as a gift package including a personalized Pro Bowl.

The pandemic has created an unexpected boost for the video game industry. As people stay at home, they turn to video games to beat the fever in the cabin. Total consumer spending on video games in the United States reached $ 11.2 billion in the third quarter of 2020, up 24 percent from the same period last year, according to the NPD Group.

EA says that between April and August, 20 million players joined its network.

“Madden had his highest number of players this last year,” Bruzzo said. “We see people playing on weekdays and at noon and all week, as opposed to the heavy peaks we would get on the weekends,” he added.

EA’s Madden NFL 21 was among the best-performing titles of the quarter, ranking second in the NPD’s Top 20 games for October 2020. The only title ahead of it was FIFA 21, also an Electronic Arts title.

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