By John Gaudiosi
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) The woes continue for
Tiger Woods off the course.
Last year, Electronic Arts made the golfing great share the
cover of his bestselling game with Northern Irish rookie Rory
McIlroy for the first time ever.
This year, following the controversy away from the green
and lackluster play on it, Woods has been dropped from the
cover of the March 29th release of "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12:
The Masters" on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii.
Woods has been replaced with a shot of the iconic yellow
flag at Augusta National Golf Club, which is a major focus for
the new game.
Woods will appear on the PlayStation 3 Collector's Edition
of the game, which will cost $10 more and include five
EA Sports has worked with Woods since 1999 on what once was
a perennial bestselling title. But last year, sales of the game
dropped in the U.S. and around the globe dramatically.
According to videogame analyst David Cole of DFC
Intelligence, sales of "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11" were down 50%
to 60% on a worldwide basis from 2009.
While EA stood by their cover athlete, they did not work
with him to promote the game last year. Traditionally, Woods
does media interviews and appearances to launch each new
"The thing about golf is the whole business is tied to
Tiger," said Cole. "TV viewership was also down over 30%. If
Woods wins, viewership should increase. With the overall sport
being so tied to Tiger I don't see EA parting ways in the near
future. However, you could be less likely to see a major
emphasis on Tiger."
"The sales issues of the Tiger Woods video game are much
broader and deeper than Tiger's personal problems and has more
to do with the entire golf sport struggling in 2010," said
Jesse Divnich, Vice president of Electronic Entertainment
Design and Research.
He continued: "Of course, one could argue the decline in
the interest of golf has to do with Tiger's extended absence
and returned poor performance. But even if that was true, it
says a lot about the PGA Tour and their over-reliance on one
person to carry the whole league. PGA exposed itself to this
risk and now is facing the consequences."
During a media conference call to discuss the new game, EA
Sports President Peter Moore said that the game publisher is
standing by the former number one golfer in the world.
"If the insinuation is it's a reflection of EA Sports
backing away from its relationship that goes back literally 13
years with Tiger, that's not the case whatsoever," said Moore.
"You shouldn't read anything into the fact that Tiger's not
featured on the box art of that particular edition...Tiger is
right there on the PS3 version of the game with Move support,
which was very good for us and Sony last year. We'll continue
"Obviously, it was a difficult year last year, but you saw
towards the end of the season Tiger starting to get back to his
old ways," said Moore. "We all, as both a sports industry and
sports fans, are hopeful he comes back in full force in
Tiger will remain a featured playable character in the new
game, along with 20 other professional golfers like 2007
Masters Champion Zach Johnson and Bubba Watson, a Team USA
member of the 2010 Ryder Cup - Team USA.
Jim Nantz and David Feherty will call the action in a new
television broadcast presentation for the game.
Electronic Arts has spent the past year focusing on
bringing The Masters to its game franchise for the first time.
The studio employed new laser scanning technology to scan every
hole, bush and tree of Augusta National Golf Club.
"I am very happy and excited that the Masters Tournament is
featured in the Tiger Woods PGA Tour game," said Woods in a
statement. "There are many new and unique elements in the game
that will make everyone feel like they're really competing at
Augusta National. This is great for the sport and will connect
a new audience with the Masters, a tournament I've been
fortunate to experience since 1995."
If The Masters fails to give Woods the necessary sales
boost, Electronic Arts might end up joining the long list of
sponsors like Gillette, AT&T, Accenture, and Gatorade that have
parted ways with him.
Divnich doesn't believe focusing more on the Masters will
"Everything correlates back to the level of interest in
golf," said Divnich.
(Editing by Zorianna Kit)
© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.