EA stands by Tiger Woods, releases new game

  • Tiger Woods – Source: Reuters
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Tiger Woods has lost some major sponsors after revelations ofmarital infidelities hurt his image, but Electronic Arts Incremains in the professional golfer’s corner with plans for the nextversion of its Woods’ branded video game.

The game, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12, will be available on the Wii,Xbox 360 and PlayStation3 consoles, and feature the MastersTournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.

A version without the Masters will be available for the iPhoneand iPad.

EA Sports President Peter Moore said pent-up demand for a videogame focussing on the vaunted Masters course would drive”considerable sales.”

While most of the box art for the new version does not includeWoods, Moore denied it was due to any desire to distance thecompany from the golfer.

“If the insinuation is ‘is this a reflection of EA Sportsbacking away from its relationship that goes back 13 years’, that’snot the case whatsoever,” he said on a conference call withreporters.

The video game publisher said it will begin selling Tour 12 inNorth America on March 29 and worldwide on April 1.

EA Sports, along with Nike Inc, has been strong in its supportof Woods despite his past sexual escapades and inability to win asingle golf tournament last year.

On the other hand, Accenture , AT&T Inc , PepsiCo Inc’sGatorade all ended sponsor deals.

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Procter & Gamble’s Gillette brand was the latest to abandonWoods, letting its deal lapse at the end of 2010.

Woods was involved in an early morning auto accident in November2009 that led to his admitting marital infidelities, andsubsequently the loss of more than $35 million in annualsponsorship revenue and a divorce from his wife.

Before the scandal, Woods earned an estimated $100 million ayear from his sponsorship deals.

For the first time since turning pro in 1996, Woods did not wina single tournament last year, costing him his ranking as theworld’s No. 1 pro golfer.

However, he remains the sport’s biggest draw card.

EA Sports, which generates about 30% of the parent company’soverall revenue, signed a sponsor deal with Woods in 1997 and thenew version will be the 13th of the console game that bears hisname.

EA’s sales of the game’s 2011 version are expected to slide 30%to 35% from the 2 million units of the 2010 version sold, resultingin a revenue hit of about $20 million to $25 million, Sterne Ageeanalyst Arvind Bhatia said.

Moore declined to provide sales projections for the 2012version.

Last year, EA launched a golf game on Facebook that did notcarry Woods’ name, but company executives said that had been theintention all along.

In November, EA Chief Executive John Riccitiello suggested Woodsneeds to start winning for their deal to make sense.

Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne last year blasted Woods,saying he had failed to live up to expectations as a rolemodel.

  • Gadgets: Electronic entertainment (4:32) 

EA stands by Tiger Woods, releases new game


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