The Power of "Madden"
Posted by jgaudiosi :: Sports & Video Games
In its 17th year, and second season with its exclusive NFL videogame license, the "Madden" videogame phenomenon shows no signs of letdown. The new game ships for every platform this August 22, which has been dubbed Maddenoliday. ESPN Pay-Per-View has been airing an exclusive 60-minute first look at the new Madden since August 4 and gamers have been paying $20 to watch it. Many of these same gamers will fork over an extra $10 for the "Hall of Fame Edition" of the game for Xbox 360 ($70) and PlayStation 2 ($60). I experienced an example of just how big the Madden juggernaut is with a new Web site I write for, www.sportsgamer.com. The site, which had a soft launch in May, went from a Web site ranking of 1 million to 27,000 overnight thanks to its posting of "Madden NFL 07" player and team rankings. There was no marketing push or press release put out. The Madden community found out about the listings online and word spread like wildfire.
EA Sports is taking full advantage of the "Madden" frenzy. The game giant is working with ESPN on the second season of "Madden Nation." In addition, there will be a broadcast focusing on the annual Madden Bowl. That's on top of the regular events that feature NFL pros playing the game before the season starts.
There are also a number of game sites like www.maddennation.com and www.maddenplanet.com that are devoted to all "Madden," all the time. EA works directly with this community on a regular basis. Representatives from these sites are flown into Orlando every year before the game ships to get hands-on time with the game and access to the game makers at Tiburon Studios. This year, some of these "Madden" die-hards were interviewed for the pay-per-view special.
"Madden" has also changed the way the music industry views videogames. Every year, EA looks at roughly 5,000 songs that are pitched to them for inclusion in the official "Madden" soundtrack of 20 songs. A song on this game can break a new band faster than any other outlet in entertainment today.
Sports videogames account for roughly one-quarter of annual game sales in the U.S. "Madden" sales make up a significant chunk of this annual revenue, as the game routinely tops 3 million units sold across all platforms. It's the one game that people will pay a premium $50 current generation price point on. And EA will sell out of those limited edition games despite the $60 and $70 price points.