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EA Sports to stand by Tiger Woods

"It's now about more than just the name."

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

EA Sports has pledged to stick with embattled golfer Tiger Woods as the poster boy of its market-leading golf sim – for now.

"As a company we've had a great relationship with him," EA Sports' senior vice president of worldwide development Andrew Wilson told Eurogamer at E3. "We continue to be supportive of him. He continues to be the namesake and on the packaging of our games.

"What I believe, though, has happened in the marketplace around Tiger Woods, the same as it has around Madden and FIFA, is the name has as much, if not more, relationship to the quality of the experience people play than it does the person or the organisation the name originated form.

"FIFA today for many people is a game, not an organisation or governing body. Madden today for many people is a game, not a coach commentator from American Football. Tiger Woods today is the greatest golf game on the market. That will continue to be the case regardless of what happens with Tiger in his personal life."

Woods has slipped down the golf world rankings since his extra marital affair came to light last year.

Injuries and poor performances saw him slump to number 15 on 6th June – his lowest position since early 1997. He will not play in the 2011 US Open.

In January it emerged that EA had dropped Woods from the box art of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters.

The decision followed EA boss John Riccitiello's insistence that Woods needed to start winning games in order for his business relationship with EA to make sense.

"We have no plans to move away from him, but it's a business relationship on the basis of we make the best golf game and he's the best golfer," Riccitiello said.

"Both of those things need to be true in the long run for the partnership to make sense.

"He sort of stuck with us for a very long time and we made great business together," he added, "and we're willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for a period of time."

Wilson said EA's "intent" is to continue to use the Tiger Woods name for the foreseeable future. "We've had a great relationship with him. It's now about more than just the name. It's about the relationship that has to a quality interactive golf experience."

Meanwhile, EA said it was delighted with the performance of the last game in the series, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12.

"The opportunity to play Augusta was a big thing," Wilson explained. "Augusta changed where you played and by default added a level of pressure when you stood on the first tee.

"Not only was it a watershed moment because it had Augusta, it was a watershed moment for the team. It was a time when the team started to say, OK, it's not just about golf. It's about delivering a great and immersive experience that changes the way people play golf. I feel good about it for that reason.

"It's done very well in the market for the same reasons."

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters carded best ever week one US sales for EA's 14-year-old golf franchise.

According to internal estimates, it shifted approximately 225,000 units in the seven days following its 29th March launch – up 17 per cent on previous best, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08.

On top of that, week one console digital revenue was up by a whopping 200 per cent.

EA is yet to announce Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13.

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