The annual rituals associated with the start of the NFL season are well under way. Fantasy draft? Check. NFL Redzone or Sunday Ticket purchase? Check. Madden football? Available this week at a store or online provider near you.
Madden NFL 15, released Aug. 26, is the 26th edition of EA Sports’ football franchise and the first in a series of summer/fall offerings from the company that leverages the start of upcoming, or already started, professional sports seasons. Following Madden 15, EA will launch a newly revamped NHL 15 on Sept. 9, the eagerly anticipated FIFA 15 on Sept. 23, and its latest basketball offering, NBA Live 15 on Oct. 7, the same day as the more critically acclaimed 2K Sports’ NBA2K series.
According to IbisWorld, the sports video game industry accounts for just under $2 billion in annual revenue for its publishers, with football games, primarily Madden after EA ceased production of its college series following a series of lawsuits, accounting for approximately one-third of all sales. For EA, Madden has generated over $4 billion in revenue throughout its lifetime, and contributed to EA obtaining a nearly 50 percent market share in sports video games, as its yearly release has become a reliable anchor for the company’s balance sheet.
The annual series’ impact on the NFL can be seen throughout the year. EA had a presence at this year’s NFLPA Rookie Premiere event, with newly drafted players taking time between meetings to play friends and colleagues in Madden. The release of the player ratings has become as entertaining for player complaints and debates as is it is for the actual information. And the Madden Bowl, held a few days prior to the actual Super Bowl, routinely brings out the best players, celebrities, and performances from top musical artists each year to participate in a party revolving around two athletes playing a video game. All of this adds up to a year-round discussion of the Madden brand that serves to keep the video game in mind for sports fans and consumers.
With Madden 15 pushing the launch of EA Season Ticket and a series of games coming up over the next few months, EA Sports is in position to continue its dominance of the marketplace.
Courtney Brunious is Associate Director at the USC Sports Business Institute and Managing Editor of The Fields of Green.