In an environment of general software declines, Electronic Arts faces particular challenges with its Tiger Woods PGA Tour franchise. First-month sales across all formats have plummeted 68 percent compared to the launch of last year's installment, and one analyst thinks the athlete's extracurricular activities might be causing harm to the games.
The golf game, which lends itself well to Wii's motion controls, has been one of the most successful third-party franchises yet on Nintendo's console. But since its June 8 launch, the multiplatform Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 saw an 86 percent decline on Wii that Cowen Group analyst Doug Creutz called "particularly catastrophic."
"Although this is probably due in part to the fact that last year's version shipped bundled with Nintendo's new Motion Plus controller, we are concerned that Woods' scandal woes may have permanently damaged the sales potential of what we believe to be EA's third most important sports franchise, behind Madden and FIFA," Creutz says of the athlete, who has struggled with his public image since details of several extramarital affairs surfaced.
At the beginning of the year, EA Sports boss Peter Moore said that sales of the franchise had actually risen between 2008 and 2009 even after the scandals began to break, and said "we’ve seen no negative impact on sales" from the events of Woods' personal life. EA has said numerous times it plans to stand by Woods.
According to Creutz, Tiger Woods isn't the only underperforming EA franchise; at 253,000 units sold, Skate 3 is also down 40 percent from the two month total for Skate 2, released in 2009, and Green Day: Rock Band sold a "paltry" 82,000 units across the three platforms on which it's launched.
Recent NPD results reveal the industry as a whole is facing software declines thanks to fewer strong releases, a more polarized market wherein only top ten titles see significant success, and the increasing shift to digital distribution, which impacts retail numbers on paper.