EA Sports announced yesterday, in conjunction with Tiger Woods’ return to golf statement, that the full commercial version of Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online will go live on or around the time of this years’ upcoming Masters golf tournament.
EA’s Peter Moore revealed at the IMG World Congress of Sports in Los Angeles that the launch of the browser based, free-to-play title will coincide with consumers peak interest in the golfing world. “It’s more than serendipity. That’s when people start thinking golf. It’s the first major,” comments Moore.
Moore also revealed that current beta testers are playing around 40,000 rounds of golf a day. The final version of the Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online will remain free-to-play, but will also feature subscriptions, microtransactions, advertising, and possible downloads. Moore declined to comment on any of the pricing structures.
Adding to the Tigermania, EA Sports, which generates approximately 30 percent of EA’s overall income reports that they’re still on track with their planned June release of the console version of the Tiger Woods franchise which will be available for the wii, Xbox 360, PS3, and iPhone.
Clearly, EA is capitalizing on Tiger Woods’ recent announcement that he’ll be returning to the golf tour this coming April in Augusta, Georgia. And unless you’ve been living under a rock, we all know the trouble surrounding Tiger’s personal life as of late. As a result, Woods has seen a fair share of sponsors either distance themselves from, or drop completely, Tiger’s endorsement deals. Accenture PLC, AT&T Inc., and PepsiCo Inc’s Gatorade all backed out on their sponsorship deals. On the other side of the coin, both Nike Inc. and EA Sports have stood strong behind their golfer of choice.
A quick look at what Tiger’s announcement has done to the golf world may bode extremely well for those that decided to stay behind Tiger. Normally selling for around $200 a ticket, post Tiger’s entry announcement, ticket outlet StubHub reports prices averaging around $500. The site reported seeing 5 times the normal activity on Tuesday, and pages where Masters tickets could be purchased experiences a 70 percent surge in traffic. Granted, these are only ticket prices, and have no direct connection to how well the online game will perform, but….if this data is an indication of things to come, EA’s ‘stand by your man’ policy could reap rewards tenfold.
The EA Sports/Tiger Woods deal was inked back in 1997, and 12 versions of the console game have borne Woods’ name. It’s estimated that the Tiger Woods titles sell around 2 million copies annually, generating around $80 million in net revenue.