and i’m back. hope everyone’s thanksgiving holiday went well. mine was one of turkey bliss, including 2 varieties of mashed potatoes (regular and cheesy bacon) and made me feel happy in the belly. anyway, down to business – we’ll ease back in with a short one. this one revisits the whole tiger woods scandal and EA en masse – you remember tiger, right?
now do you like sports games? sure, who doesn’t! every gamer i know, whether they’re spending 80 hours unlocking stuff on an rpg, years on a mmo, or tracking head shots in an fps, can enjoy playing a good sports game, even if the occurrence is no more than few and far between. and chances are whatever their sport / game of choice is, it’s produced by electronic arts. in my opinion they make some serious stuff in their EA sports line, with team sports hits like madden NFL football and FIFA soccer, which try to deliver something new every year. with their links to the NFL and FIFA, marketing these to the gaming public was fairly simple. take madden NFL football for example – since they deal with the actual NFL and use real players and teams (of whose rights are owned by the league), marketing the game was advertising for the NFL, and the same sort of followed in vice versa. picking a poster boy is easy, and everybody’s happy. it was a little more difficult for EA’s electronic version of the PGA tour – it just wasn’t as popular as other sports in the US in the 90’s, and on top of that they were being beaten by likes of microsoft golf and links, as well as jack nicklaus’ brand of games.
tiger and his old fedex cup (pgatour.com)
enter tiger woods in the late 90’s. tiger was a great addition for golf for multiple reasons, and in my opinion is responsible for the resurgence of the popularity of the game from the late 90’s to today. EA hopped on the tiger train for their golf games after his explosive play and 1997 masters win, added his name to their game, and tiger woods pga tour is what we’ve gotten ever since. his endorsement breathed new life into the series, and has grown in popularity as viewership for golf increased, continuing even today. EA even held on to the tiger woods brand through his highly publicized off-course issues for tiger woods pga tour ’11, because their concern is about endorsing “tiger woods the player.”
“the player.” no pun intended. i promise.
but according to reuters, recent statements by EA’s head honcho john riccitiello may indicate that this partnership is on the rocks due to his performance post-crisis. “we have no plans to move away from him, but it’s a business relationship on the basis of we make the best golf game and he’s the best golfer.” he went on to say “both of those things need to be true in the long run for the partnership to make sense.” later he seemed to backpedal a little, saying that this statement wasn’t a threat to tiger. but i don’t see how it can be taken another way. while EA is definitely giving a little breathing room to someone who’s brought them so much success to bring his game back up instead of just immediately dropping him, there’s still a message here: start winning again, or EA will join the list of tiger’s former sponsors. and it makes complete sense. if you want to sell these games, for any sport, you need to associate it with someone the fans are excited about. madden 11 features drew brees – a super bowl champion and MVP. heisman trophy winner tim tebow is on ncaa football 11. do you think this year’s madden game would sell as well if instead of drew brees, the cover art showed a triumphant tyler palko getting ready to bomb it deep?
the hyundai tournament of champions is in january. tee it up strong woods, or we could be looking at a rory mcilroy solo cover for pga tour ’12. and while he’s working on that, EA, work on those DRM methods.