SBD/Issue 243/Media

"Madden" Sales Ahead Of Last Year; EA Unveils Facebook Version

EA Seeing Sales Increase
For "Madden" Video Game

Initial North American sales of "Madden NFL 11," released on Aug. 10, have outpaced last year's version by an estimated 5%, reversing a year-over-year sales decline seen last August for the flagship football video game title, company executives said late yesterday. First-month unit sales for the XBox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii version of "Madden" have amounted to about 2 million, tops for the industry during August, but still shy of the first-month total of 2.2 million seen two years ago for "Madden NFL 09." EA Sports President Peter Moore said he was encouraged by the stronger reaction this year to the reworked "Madden," which now features a more streamlined play-calling structure and quicker overall play. "It's still early days, but we're definitely seeing some real strength, certainly more optimism, in the market for the game," Moore said. "There seems to be a dynamic developing where the triple-A, blue chip titles are doing really well, and everything else is having a much tougher go in the market, but certainly 'Madden' is one of those triple-A titles." The console version "Madden" sales add to strong, but as-yet-untabulated digital sales for iPod and iPad versions, which each debuted atop iTunes sales rankings. More broadly, digital revenues for "Madden" are up more than 200% from a year ago. EA Sports' disclosure of its August sales estimates for console-based versions of "Madden" were aimed to get out in front of NPD Group sales data expected later this month.

GETTING SOCIAL: EA Sports yesterday also released a Facebook version of the game entitled "Madden NFL Superstars." Borrowing from fantasy football, social games such as Farmville, and EA's previously released and successful "FIFA Superstars," the new version involves selecting a team of NFL players, playing simulated games, and building and managing the team through increasingly more difficult challenges. Like many Facebook games, there is a significant free-to-play component, but "Madden NFL Superstars" will also be buttressed by a virtual goods-based revenue model. Moore said he sees the Facebook version of "Madden" as both its own experience and a marketing vehicle for the other iterations of the game. EA execs have discussed the likelihood of such a release for most of this year, and at present, it stands as the only football game in Facebook fully licensed by the NFL and NFLPA. "Facebook is obviously a place we need to be, and for all the success 'Madden' has year after year, those sales are still only a single-digit percentage of all the people who consider themselves football fans," Moore said. "So it's a big step for us to get in front of another huge audience and expose them to the 'Madden' experience." "Madden NFL Superstars" was built with the aid of social games developer Playfish, which EA acquired last year.

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