The long-running Electronic Arts videogame franchise, in its annual prediction of the Super Bowl last week, not only predicted the New England Patriots’ last minute comeback to defeat the Seattle Seahawks, it nailed the final 28-24 score. And that was just the start of its Nostradamus-like qualities.
The “Madden” football franchise may not be the crown jewel at Electronic Arts anymore, but it still shines pretty bright. And this year, EA is counting on that shine to help it launch the company’s boldest digital push to date.
“Madden 15,” the 26th installment in the long-running series, officially hits store shelves on Aug. 26, but superfans of the game were able to start playing on Aug. 21 by subscribing to EA Access, a just-launched Netflix-like service that lets fans play back catalog EA games and get early looks at new titles for $5 per month or $30 per year.
Some fans are questioning the methodology of the storied franchise after seeing how the game stacked up certain high-profile players.
Teddy Bridgewater, rookie quarterback with the Minnesota Vikings, has a bit of downtime these days. Minicamp is over and it’ll be another month before the team converges on training camp. So to keep sharp, he’s playing a lot of EA’s best-known franchise.
Video game software retail sales in August were up 21 percent compared to a year ago, according to The NPD Group — the first time the industry has shown a year-over-year increase since October of 2011 (excluding January 2013, which had an extra week of reporting). Brick and mortar sales of video games came in at $305 million, an improvement of better than $55 million. The boost was even bigger than Wall Street analysts were expecting.
The publisher is touting the 25th edition of Madden NFL as the best-selling game of August (something NPD is likely to verify next week), saying internal numbers show it sold one million unitsin its first week on store shelves.
The problem? Last year’s version sold 1.65 million in that same period. That represents a 40 percent falloff. In turn, EA’s stocks took a dip on Friday.
The 25th anniversary edition of the flagship sports title hits shelves today, and while the franchise faithful have likely once again come down with a case of the Madden flu to spend time with the game, critics have had a bit more time to dissect it.
EA’s Madden Football franchise has been a fixture in the video game world for 25 years. It’s earned billions of dollars for its publisher (and a few million for its original creator). Its annual August arrival marks the unofficial start of the fall gaming rush. And it has legions of fans who have been known to skip work just to get their hands on each new version when it hits store shelves.
The latest, Madden NFL 25, arrives August 27 and brings with it new moves, new modes, and one old-school cover star in Barry Sanders, the only man to grace a Madden cover twice.
But while the game may be well known, its history is a bit murkier. Did you know:
Robin Antonick claimed that his code, which was used in the original 1988 version of the franchise, was subsequently used in later versions of the game without his knowledge. He took EA to court in 2011 to sue for royalties and interest, originally in the amount of $16 million.
EA has unveiled a limited ‘Anniversary Edition’ edition of the upcoming Madden NFL 25 that will come with a free Sunday Ticket subscription, letting owners not only play simulations of the entire NFL season, but watch it live, too, whether they’re in-market or not.