SBD/July 9, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

MLS Fans Have Chance To Select All-Star Player Through "FIFA 13" Game Action

Forwards scoring in the video game will receive points toward the All-Star Game
Fans for this month's MLS All-Star Game have “a new way of voting for the 11th man in the lineup,” as EA Sports is “teaming up with the league” for the AT&T MLS All-Star "In the Game" Challenge, according to Xander Zellner of USA TODAY. Whenever someone scores during play of EA Sports’ “FIFA 13” videogame, the MLS player “who scored the goal receives one point toward being selected as the 11th man.” Voting began last Wednesday and continues through tomorrow morning. EA Senior Global Product Marketing Manager David Pekush said, "This year only players who are forwards can get votes, but in the future we can add defenders or goalkeepers.” MLS Senior VP/Global Sponsorship David Wright said that the “first 10 players have been selected by fans through other outlets, but the final spot creates a more innovative method for fans to vote.” Pekush said that there “had been tens of thousands of goals thus far, and those numbers are expected to increase until the promotion ends.” He said, "If this is as successful as we believe it'll be, I'm sure other sports leagues will take a look at the idea" (USA TODAY, 7/9).

MISSING IN ACTION: An EA spokesperson yesterday said that former Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez “has been removed” from both “NCAA Football 14” and “Madden NFL 25.” Hernandez' image briefly appeared online yesterday prior to today's release of "NCAA Football," but he “only showed up temporarily because of the timing involved” in publishing the game. The spokesperson said, "We made a decision to remove Aaron Hernandez from ‘Madden NFL 25’ and ‘NCAA Football 14.’ Because ‘NCAA Football 14’ was finalized prior to our decision, Hernandez' image still appears in the Nike Skills Trainer. ... The image of Hernandez will be removed via a Title Update in the near future." CBSSPORTS.com’s Will Brinson noted EA execs are “going to have Hernandez out of the NFL version of the game by the time it's released.” He “wouldn't be on a roster anyway,” but the “smart move for EA is to simply remove him completely” (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/8). EA Sports Communications Specialist Brad Hilderbrand said, “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time we’ve ever had to remove a player from the game. When the news came out, he was removed.” Hilderbrand added that the title update “including the removal of Hernandez’ image requires the approval of gaming console makers Microsoft and Sony, because the game’s artwork was finalized before his arrest last month” (BOSTON HERALD, 7/9). CBS Sports Network’s Doug Gottlieb said, “I don’t think EA Sports was left with a choice. I do think it shows they're ability to react on the fly and pivot right before this game is set to be released” (“Lead Off,” CBS Sports Network, 7/8).

IT'S REALLY IN THE GAME: In N.Y., Chris Suellentrop in an Arts section cover story discusses the ongoing Ed O'Bannon lawsuit and notes it began as a dispute among former college athletes, the NCAA and EA "over whether players deserve to be paid for the use of their likenesses in games like NCAA Football 14 from EA Sports." Suellentrop: "Sports games will always be with us, no matter what happens with the lawsuit against the NCAA. Next month, the 25th anniversary edition of Madden NFL will be released, and no lawsuit is going to force that juggernaut to retire. ... But if the lawsuit succeeds, one day a father in Alabama may want to show his children what the sport looked like before everything changed. In that moment, an Xbox 360, a controller and a copy of NCAA Football 14 -- part historical documentary, part deranged-fan wish fulfillment -- may be the best exhibit in evidence" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/9).
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