It's a Maddenoliday!

Posted by jgaudiosi :: Sports & Video Games

Madden For the 17th edition of its "Madden" franchise, Electronic Arts has worked with Freestyle Interactive and Widen and Kennedy to launch the Maddenoliday on August 22. The TV and radio spots are already running nationally, and a new microsite has launched to further entrench this new holiday into the American culture. Fox TV's "The O.C." turned Chrismakah into a holiday several years ago. Now EA is looking to create a similar addition to the vernacular. The Web site includes a "Maddvent Calendar" that unlocks new gaming elements on a daily basis, including screen shots and videos. In addition, gamers can send e-greetings, listen to the official Maddenoliday song, get recipes and learn about traditions.

The "Madden" game has become part of popular culture over the past few decades. After EA signed its exclusive five-year deal with the NFL last year, the game is now in a position to hold its own space with no fear of competition from 2K Sports or others. EA has expanded its football offerings to include "NFL Head Coach," "NFL Street 3" and "NCAA Football 07." But "Madden" is the leading football franchise for the company (with "NCAA Football" regularly coming in at the top of the sales charts annually).

The "Madden" faithful have always been wiling to spend another $50 every August to buy the latest game. The advent of next generation consoles with downloadable content could change things in the years to come, as rosters and other features could be updated online. But by creating a holiday around the game's launch, it's a great marketing ploy that could become etched in mainstream terminology over the coming years. Many gamers take off on that day anyway to play the new game. EA has recommended people take the day off in years past, but the Maddenoliday is a new take on this message.

Even people who don't watch "The O.C." have seen Chrismakah t-shirts and other items over the past few years. Maddenoliday has the same type of crossover potential. The new Web site should especially appeal to the more mainstream and casual sports gamers. Roughly one-quarter of all videogame sales annually in the U.S. come from sports games and "Madden" is always at the top of the list with sales of 3 million plus. There's certainly room to grow based on the neverending popularity of the sport on TV. The recent Hall of Fame game, which followed the induction of John Madden into the Hall, had hired ratings than any other sport for that weekend. It beat out NASCAR, baseball and soccer, even though those sports were offering real events, versus a pre-season scrimmage that didn't feature the stars for the entire game.

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