SBD/March 29, 2011/Media

Augusta National Makes Video Game Debut In EA Sports' "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12"

Augusta National makes its video game debut in "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12"
EA Sports today releases "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters," which "boasts new features aimed to drive sales," including the video game debut of Augusta National, according to Mike Snider of USA TODAY. OperationSports.com Exec Editor Chris Sanner said that the addition of Augusta National is "important." Sanner: "I can see some people who haven't played 'Tiger' in a few years definitely picking it up based on Augusta alone." The "Tiger Woods PGA Tour" series "could use a lift," as Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said that the game last year "accounted for less than half of the $90 million or so in sales annually from 2007 to 2009 when Woods dominated the PGA Tour." Pachter said the decline of the franchise is probably "more closely correlated" to Woods' on-course play "than to his personal troubles" (USA TODAY, 3/28). In N.Y., Robbie Brown writes Augusta National's inclusion in the EA Sports game is an "unexpected step toward modernity," as developers "have spent years replicating the course in exact detail." Developers said that they used "laser scanners to measure every sliver of the course -- every bunker, every fairway, every tree -- within six millimeters of accuracy." But that "has not stopped golf purists from questioning the wisdom of selling a video game version at all -- even one that is so stunningly accurate." Augusta National's proceeds from the game "will benefit a nonprofit foundation that promotes youth golf" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/29).

RELIVING HISTORY: GOLFWEEK.com's Ryan Lavner noted in the game's "Masters Moments" mode, users are "tasked with re-creating some of the greatest shots in tournament lore: Larry Mize's walk-off chip in 1987, Tiger's 'in-your-life!' chip-in on 16, Phil Mickelson's slash-through-the-trees 6-iron on 13." In the "Tiger at the Masters" mode, users "can relive each of Woods' four Masters titles by attempting to equal or beat his scores while playing against the field in real time" (GOLFWEEK.com, 3/26). GOLFCHANNEL.com's Jay Coffin noted the game "also has features unique to the Masters, including Jim Nantz and David Feherty calling the action." Coffin: "After each hole is complete the score is recorded on a trademark Masters scorecard and the lingo is spot on when referring to the first nine, the second nine and the second cut" (THEGOLFCHANNEL.com, 3/25).

UNPRECEDENTED ACCESS: KOTAKU.com's Owen Good reported Augusta National "let a camera crew and a bunch of actors walk all over its storied course" for an ad for the game. Good: "These Green Jacket moments had no green screen. 'James from San Jose' really did blast out of the sand on No. 10. 'Thomas,' the guy representing 'you' on No. 18 really did drain that eight foot putt." The ad was "filmed in a day this February at Augusta National." The concept, which came from Heat, S.F., was "one of about five suggested and EA Sports instantly loved it." The crew "used the broadcast towers that have been put in place for CBS' coverage and recreated other camera angles familiar to longtime viewers." Good wrote the "entire spot, beginning with the soaring anthem and Jim Nantz invoking Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, sounds very much like a broadcast promo" (KOTAKU.com, 3/25).
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