Additional reporting by Andy Robinson.
Electronic Arts is set to revive its classic boxing series Fight Night in the near future, development sources have said.
According to people with knowledge of the EA Sports label’s plans, the new Fight Night, which is currently codenamed ‘Moneyball’, has been greenlit and entered early development.
However, the series’ first instalment in a decade is still likely several years from release. This is due to EA Canada’s decision to temporarily pause its core development in order to prioritise the next EA Sports UFC game, which is planned for late next year.
In a studio-wide e-mail seen by VGC, EA Canada told staff that its focus would be on EA Sports UFC 5 for the foreseeable future.
The e-mail explained that strong marketplace competition had made it challenging to staff up for Fight Night, which was intended to enter production alongside UFC, and that it did not want to split its senior creatives between two fighting game projects.
Thus the decision has been made to pause the game’s development “for the time being” to ensure that UFC 5 will be delivered at “high quality”, the email reads.
“We’re very excited about UFC 5 and… we want to eliminate the split focus that several members of our leadership team have had over the past while so we can solely focus on delivering migration and UFC 5 at high quality,” it reads.
Not much is currently known about the new boxing game, but it’s understood that EA sees the revival as a means of reasserting itself in the fighting game market.
Asked for comment on this story, an Electronic Arts spokesperson pointed to the company’s policy of not responding to “rumours and speculation.”
Fight Night Champion was released in 2011.
Fight Night: Eddie Hearn ‘pitched idea’
The Fight Night series, which last saw a release with 2011’s Fight Night Champion, had been consistently well-received by critics, with all five of its instalments earning Metacritic scores in the mid-to-high 80s.
It’s been suggested that over the past decade, complications around licensing the likenesses of the world’s biggest boxers – and the increasingly high fees for doing so – had encouraged EA to focus on UFC, with which it could agree on a blanket deal for all its athletes.
However, there have been calls from both fans and the boxing world for the series to return and EA is aware of the demand, we were told.
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Last year both Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua appeared as pre-order bonuses for UFC 4, and the former’s promoter Eddie Hearn claimed that he had pitched a Fight Night game to EA.
“I’ve got this little Fight Night idea which I’ve pitched to EA Sports,” he said during a live stream video (embedded above).
“It’s not just a virtual game, it’s much more complicated than that… I had a call the other day with EA Sports and I keep telling them that every time I mention Fight Night on social media it goes mad.
“I think the return of EA Sports Fight Night would be huge.”