Goodbye competition – evil Electronic Arts swallows ESPN franchise

Faced with tough competition from the ESPN-branded NFL 2K5, Electronic Arts secured exclusive video game rights for its Madden franchise last month that prevented other gaming companies from using NFL marks and players’ names for the next five years.

On Monday, ESPN and EA announced a 15-year integrated marketing agreement that will allow for all of EA’s sports franchises to have access to the network’s programming and personalities.

Before this year, EA’s Madden franchise, which debuted in 1989, dominated the football game marketplace. But the Madden 2005 game was seriously challenged by ESPN’s NFL 2K5, thanks to good reviews and a pricing war. NFL 2K5 was available in stores in July for $19.95. The Madden game was priced at $49.95 for three months until the company finally relented and lowered it by $20.


If you are in doubt that Electronic Arts is a horrible soul-eating corporation read this: EA: The Human Story

4 Responses to “Goodbye competition – evil Electronic Arts swallows ESPN franchise”

  1. Frank says:

    From a marketing standpoint, you never want to compete on price. Since it is very obvious that EA didn’t want to compete on price and they were losing that battle, they effectively had 2 options, 1. Buy their competitor and eliminate the threat or 2. Push them out of business, in this case the sports video game business. EA apparently chose the latter option, but only because the NFL gave them that window of opportunity. I think this is less of EAís fault and more of the NFL’s. The NFL didn’t have to agree to exclusivity and they should have never done so since there were completing products. EA had the opportunity and the cash, so why wouldn’t they take it? Strategically, itís a marketing and product coup for them. It makes sense for EA to do it if they have the resources. You cannot blame them. No one forced the NFL to do this. If anyone should be to blame, itís the NFL and Players Association.

  2. Patrick Fitzgerald says:

    I guess we’ll have to see how this plays out. It’s unknown how much EA invested in the exclusive licenses (rumored to be hundreds of millions for the NFL deal). And while they bought the ESPN branding, they didn’t buy the acutal competing games – so they will still have to deal with a $20 competing football game (and it remains to be seen if gamers will care enough about the NFL license to pay twice as much for an equivalent game). Also, the NFL license comes with restrictions; perhaps the competing games will now have things like fighting and players being busted for substance abuse, which would never be allowed in an NFL-branded game.

  3. Patrick Fitzgerald says:

    And to clarify, I don’t think EA is evil for making these deals and trying to crush the competition, I think they are evil for their horrible treatment of their employees.

  4. Kevin says:

    In responce to comment #1 — there was another choice: make a better game.

    I personally feel this is an awful thing for sports gamers — wrote an article on my site about this as well if you are interested in reading.

Leave a Reply