EA Sports MMA Addresses “One-and-Done” Rumors

October 27, 2010

Rumors have been floating around for the past couple of days involving the recently released EA Sports MMA title being “one-and-done” and “dead on arrival” according to Cowen & Company analyst Doug Creutz, but when MMAPayout reached out to EA Sports marketing manager Randy Chase, he told us that the report is a bit premature.

The video gaming website ComputerAndVideoGames was the first to report Creutz analysis of EA Sports MMA, which was then picked up by many MMA websites, eventually reaching ESPN’s MMA blog and other big name online media.  Creutz went on to say in his report:

“EA’s recently released ‘MMA’ appears to be more or less DOA at retail, while UFC recently announced an extension of its license with THQ, likely putting an end to EA’s efforts to expand into the mixed martial arts genre,” the analyst said in a research note this morning.

The ComputerAndVideoGames article also goes on to note that EA Sports MMA debuted at No. 23 this week, just edging out another competitor which was released on the same day, Activision’s DJ Hero 2 which debuted at #25.  The key factor for the disappointing debut for both titles was the the same week release of Fallout: New Vegas, which finished #1 on the chart and was highly anticipated by many video game enthusiasts.

EA Sports released the following statement regarding the rumors:

“EA SPORTS MMA has been in stores for less than a week and it has been well received by critics and consumers for bringing innovation to the genre.  We are confident the game will connect with fight fans.”


Contrary to what Creutz stated on his report, PastaPadre, a well known sports video game news website, believes there is a future for EA Sports MMA.

Just one week after the release of EA Sports MMA there are analysts predicting that the company will cease making an MMA game going forward. Sales are reportedly soft and with THQ locking up the UFC license through 2018 the thought is being perpetuated that there is no room to grow and pushing forward would prove futile. That really isn’t the case however and EA is not likely to abandon a growing sport when they have now established themselves as players in the market even as that comes from an underdog role.

Keep in mind these are the same analysts who just recently discussed poor sales coming in for Madden 11 only to have the official sales numbers release and the game show a 12% year over year increase. Basically take anything an analyst says with a grain of salt because they are not tied into the goings on of the sports gaming world and may not be even using official data. They are just looking at numbers and not taking into consideration the context of them.


Payout Perspective:

The low initial sales was something that  MMAPayout noted in the EA MMA perspective write-up, and something that should be expected as realistic expectations for this title release.  We also mentioned that the game was well received with good scores from respected video game websites/publishers and also garnered positive user feedback.

As PastaPadre points out, EA went into this project with full knowledge of being the underdog in the market and had realistic sale expectations.  The key here, if they choose to continue the franchise in 2012, is to establish the base for an MMA franchise that can be released on alternating years with their Fight Night boxing franchise. Though we must point out, releasing the game on the same week as highly anticipated Fallout: New Vegas was released was a big mistake (just as THQ did with releasing UFC Undisputed 2010 in the same week as Red Dead Revolver) and affected their sales.

Despite the low sales this year for both MMA franchises, there is no doubt that the MMA market is still growing and is predicted to keep growing in the next several years, so it is well worth their while to stay in the market. There is no doubt that the UFC brand creates an almost impossible hurdle for EA as they continue to dominate the market, but they also don’t have the pressures of having high licensing costs attached to the game, which ultimately lowers the expectations of the game.  Only time will tell what EA decides to do with the franchise, but I believe it is just too early to make decision’s of this magnitude based on the current conditions.  When MMAPayout asked EA Sports if there were any existing plans for a 2012 release, they said we were already working on it.

2010 MMAPayout.com Media Rankings # 3 – MMAFighting.com

October 27, 2010

MMAFighting.com is the new kid on the block when it comes to major MMA sites, but thanks to its AOL Fan House backing and all-star staff it has quickly emerged as one of the sport’s top players. The site’s calling card is its exclusive video content from Ariel Helwani on the scene of every major MMA event.

Ranked # 3

Reach # 3

Content # 2

Features # 5

Influence # 4

Quality # 2

Browse previously ranked sites in the Media Rankings category.

UFC 121 Prelims: 1.5 million Viewers

October 26, 2010

MMAPayout.com has learned that the UFC 121 Prelims on Spike TV generated a 1.03HH rating on the strength of 1.5 million average viewers on Saturday, October 23 prior to the pay-per-view portion of the broadcast. The program fared well among the traditional MMA audience with a 1.42 in each the M18-34 and M18-49 demos.

Quarterlies: 1,442,000, 1,549,000, 1,524,000, 1,641,000

Payout Perspective:

The UFC 121: Prelims come in as the 3rd most-watched Prelims broadcast since the UFC debuted this series in September 2009, which is good news for a network and organization battling a decline in ratings over the last 6-9 months.

However, I am not yet willing to view this rating as a positive indicator of UFC 121’s PPV performance. In this regard there are many factors to consider and the Prelims have not often been a sound indicator in the past.

——

Note: I did not report this anywhere other than on Twitter last week, but UFC Primetime: Lesnar vs. Velasquez averaged 1.09 million viewers over three episodes and comes in as the most popular Primetime show yet.

2010 MMAPayout.com Media Rankings # 4 – MMAJunkie.com

October 26, 2010

MMAJunkie.com has enjoyed a steady rise alongside the growing popularity of MMA. Junkie offers what is arguably the most comprehensive coverage of the sport with a reputation for excellence based on its tireless work ethic. The site’s content is second to none and its audio content features the best lineup of guests in the sport.

Ranked # 4

Reach # 2

Content # 1

Features # 4

Influence # 8

Quality # 1

Browse previously ranked sites in the Media Rankings category.

UFC opens third gym in Corona, California

October 25, 2010

Amidst the media buzz of UFC 121, the UFC announced that it would open a third gym, its second Southern California location, in the Inland Empire/Corona, California.

According to the UFC press release:

The Inland Empire will now have their chance to experience all that UFC Gym has to offer. Just weeks after the grand opening of the Rosemead location, New Evolution Ventures (NeV), and the UFC announced today that the third UFC Gym location is set to open in Corona, CA.

The third UFC Gym is expected to open in early 2011 and the location is currently selling memberships.

Payout Perspective:

It is amazing to see the rapid growth of the UFC brand into the fitness industry. The announcement of the third gym comes on the heels of the grand opening of its second gym in Rosemead, California. I am surprised that the UFC decided to open its third gym so close to each other and did not open a location in the Orange County or San Diego area.  The Rosemead gym is about an hour and a half away from the proposed Corona site.

2010 MMAPayout.com Media Rankings # 5 – BloodyElbow.com

October 25, 2010

MMA’s premiere blog, Bloody Elbow boasts an impressive reach thanks to its SBNation backing. Everything a blog should be, the site’s coverage is thorough, thought provoking, and has been known to cause a stir in the sport. It also boasts an impressive community of commentators and fan contributors.

Ranked # 5

Reach # 5

Content # 5

Features # 8

Influence # 7

Quality # 6

Browse previously ranked sites in the Media Rankings category.

MMAPayout Report From UFC 121: Lesnar vs Velasquez

October 25, 2010

MMAPayout was on the scene for UFC 121: Lesnar vs Velasquez, which was held at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California on Saturday, October 23rd. The event was headlined by the heavyweight title bout between Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez.


KEY NOTES FROM THE EVENT:

1) UFC Marketing Campaign: Mission Accomplished – The “First Mexican Champ” blitz campaign worked great for the UFC, as we anticipated here on MMAPayout.  The majority of UFC 121 attendants were Mexican and Latino MMA fans.  With the waving Mexican flags and fighters like Cain Velasquez and Diego Sanchez walking into the Octagon to Mexican pride music, the event could have taken place in Mexico and I wouldn’t have been able to tell much of a difference. Seems Cain’s position as a Mexican Icon is now secured with MMA fans and Mexican supporters.  Having Cain fight in California, Arizona, Nevada, and possibly Mexico in the future is a lock from here on out.

There are quite a few stories that I am hearing regarding the marketing campaign.

  • Some fans and members of the industry were not particularly thrilled about the way the Lesnar vs Velasquez fight was promoted.  Though it made complete sense on the business end, it appears that the UFC received a good amount of complaints from the fans and some members in the industry. The heavy marketing of a Mexican champ irked a few folks and has caused some fans to feel alienated from the HW champ since they can’t relate.  The controversial “Brown Pride” tattoo is also something the UFC has discussed internally (at one point thinking of covering it up or air brushing it out of posters and promotional material) and has been a sore topic within MMA fans. Fight Opinion has a good write-up and discussion on the matter: “Are People Angry at UFC 121 Marketing Just So That They Can Manufacture Anger”.
  • The news is that the Mexican people rallied around Cain Velazquez, but a majority did not even know his name, the sport, or who the promotion hosting the title was.  All they cared was that a Mexican was in line for a title shot at a HW belt, something that Mexican combat sport enthusiast have been waiting for years to see in Boxing, but the feat was never achieved.
  • The “First Mexican Champion” campaign was said to be started within Cain’s camp.  Javier Mendez, one of Cain’s coaches from AKA, always envisioned Cain becoming the first Mexican HW champ, and is said to have helped pitch the idea on how to promote Cain to the UFC since it would be a huge achievement within the Mexican and Latino demographic.  It was also a great angle to sell Cain to the fans, as some have criticized him for lacking enough personality to sell a fight and interest casual fans.
  • Josh Gross has a nice write-up on the matter: Five things we learned at UFC 121 – which touches on how this win could finally help the UFC break into the coveted Latino market.

2) TUF Still A Huge Boost for the UFC – The fighters who received the biggest fan reactions all had something in common on  Saturday night, all fighters had exposure on TV through TUF.  Court McGee, Brendan Schaub, Josh Koscheck, GSP, Tito Ortiz, Diego Sanchez, Matt Hamill all received huge reactions from the fans.  The only exceptions were Lesnar (earned much of his fame through WWE) and Cain Velasquez, who had a huge marketing push this time around and was the crowd favorite for the event.  I guess what I would like to stress here for any promotion trying to grow and and compete in the same market as the UFC is that having regular TV exposure pays off HUGE dividends in the long run, as TUF is the backbone in creating stars for the UFC.  During the event, it was obvious that the UFC catered and focused more on their TUF alumni than other fighters the like of Paulo Thiago, Ryan Jensen, or Mike Guymon, but that’s also what the fans wanted and so they catered to their customer.

3) The Ultimate Heel: Josh Koscheck? – Once Josh Koscheck entered the arena, he got a HUGE reaction from the fans.  In fact, Lesnar, Tito, and Koscheck were heavily booed, but no one as much as Koscheck who is now the UFC’s ultimate heel, which is a testament to the power of TUF on Spike.  In fact, Koscheck was booed out of the building and had to be escorted out before he was allowed to come back inside, which prompted a GSP chant to break out in the building.

4) UFC Fans Critical On Jake Shields – During the Jake Shields fight, which the UFC and Martin Kampmann were selling as a Strikeforce vs UFC fight, some fights broke out at the Honda Center while fans shouted, “get them in the cage instead”.  A couple of fans in my seating section fell asleep during the fight (no joke) and were woken up when the main event was announced, when the crowd started getting loud.  In total, there were about 2 or 3 scuffles that broke out during the event (1 during the Spike prelims I believe) and 2 MMA fans who took short naps during the co-main event. A good amount of “go back to Strikeforce” and “why did you sign him Dana” comments were shouted towards Shields.  Needless to say when the judges gave the decision to Shields, the crowd was not very pleased. This latest performance by Shields proved what Strikeforce was saying all along, that they will keep the fighters they want to keep if they make sense for them.  Letting Shields challenge himself in the UFC and not try to outbid the UFC for his services was the correct choice here.  He is a great fighter, but his style will never be one which will do great numbers on network TV nor captivate the casual MMA fan.  He fits much better in the UFC where they don’t need to rely on him solely to get PPV buys or rating numbers as a main event fighter. It really was a win-win move for Strikeforce and the UFC here, not sure about the fans at the event though.

5) Production and Presentation Is Key -Though the Honda center was predominantly Mexican and Latino fans, only a handful of Mexican flags were at the event.  The UFC seemed to have placed the UFC (in Mexican colors) sign and the “Yes We Can” sign right next to the fighter walkouts so the camera would always capture them in the shots. It was a great effect to make it appear that there were a number of raving Mexican fans waving flags all over the arena, but that wasn’t the case. There were also plenty of empty seats up until the second bout of the PPV televised portion of the event.  Affliction’s Fedor vs Sylvia took place in the same venue about 3 years ago and there were plenty of Russian flags and Fedor chants in that event.  Though, PLENTY more flags appeared after Cain won to celebrate the victory outside the Honda Center.

6) UFC 121’s WWE Moment – Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker exchanged some words after Brock’s loss, as he was heading out of the Octagon and started making his way towards the locker room. The Undertaker told Brock “Wanna do it?”, in which Brock responded in a slight stare-down as he made his way to the back. The word is that WWE has an offer on the table for Brock Lesnar to participate in WrestleMania 27, proposing a Lesnar versus the Undertaker bout.

7) Attendance and Gate Numbers Raise Eyebrows – The gate number for UFC 121 was the lowest ever for a Brock Lesnar headlined event, drawing  14,856 fans for only a $2.15 million gate (MMAJunkie).  Here are the Lesnar gate and attendance histories along with venues, which goes all the way back to UFC 59.

Brock Lesnar Event Gate Numbers and Attendance:

UFC 81:      Gate: $2.4M     Attendance: 10,583 (Debut loss to Frank Mir in Las Vegas)

UFC 87:     Gate: $2.3M    Attendance: 15,087 (Win against Heath Herring in Minneapolis)

UFC 91:      Gate: $4.8M    Attendance: 14,272 (Win against Randy Couture in Las Vegas)

UFC 100:  Gate: $5.1M     Attendance: 10,871  (Win against Frank Mir in Las Vegas)

UFC 116:  Gate: $4.05M   Attendance: 12,740 (Win against Shane Carwin in Las Vegas)

UFC 121: Gate: $2.15M   Attendance: 14,856   (Loss against Cain Velasquez in Anaheim, CA)


Past MMA Events in Anaheim:

UFC 59     Ortiz v. Griffin           Anaheim     $2.2M     13,814

UFC 63     Hughes v. Penn       Anaheim     $1.6M     12,604

UFC 76     Liddel v. Jardine      Anaheim     $1.9M     14,087

Affliction Fedor v. Sylvia          Anaheim     $2.1M     14,832

Affliction Fedor v. Arlovski     Anaheim     $1.5M     13,255

UFC 121: Lesnar vs Velasquez Anaheim     $2.15M   14,856

What the numbers show here is that  fans bought the cheap tickets for UFC 121, which forced the UFC to give the higher priced tickets away to fans as complementary tickets. In the week leading up to the event, UFC 121 had sold about 10,000 tickets, the price per ticket for this event was $145 (not yet taking into account complementary tickets), whereas UFC 116 was $314 per ticket and UFC 100 was $469 per ticket.   Kelsey has more on the pricing of the event on the UFC 121 Payout Perspective feature. Interesting to note that this event was pretty much IDENTICAL in gate and attendance numbers to Affliction’s Fedor vs Sylvia card from a few years ago.

UFC 121: Payout Perspective

October 24, 2010

Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective! This week we’re taking a look at UFC 121: Lesnar vs Velasquez which was held at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California on Saturday, October 23rd. The event featured a heavyweight title clash between Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez, but also featured the debut of Jake Shields in the Octagon as well as the return of Tito Ortiz.

Velasquez punishes Lesnar, vaults UFC into new territory

Cain Velasquez was able to negate Brock Lesnar’s tremendous size and athleticism with his combination of wrestling prowess and stand-up acumen. He then displayed a great deal of patience and poise in picking Lesnar a part on the ground to finish the fight. Velasquez is the real deal. He may not be the best pure wrestler or pure striker in the division, but he’s the most well-rounded. Perhaps even scarier is the fact that he’s only 28 and still got room to improve just about everything.

The business implications of this fight are several and involve a bit of a trade-off between the short and long term. Lesnar is the sport’s top draw and best mainstream enabler, but he’s likely to lose a bit of his appeal without the belt. Certainly the 1 million buy guarantee is probably gone unless he fights Mir in a rubber match or lands another title shot. However, it is my belief that we’ve witnessed the birth of the next big draw in the UFC in the form of Velasquez. He may not be the most stirring interview or imposing physical specimen, but he finishes fights and that is ultimately what the fans care about most.

Velasquez also happens to bring a new demographic to the table. Say what you want about the UFC’s marketing tactics for this fight, but it knew it had to hedge its bets when promoting this fight. Velasquez may not sell 1 million PPV buys every fight, but he will prove to be a solid draw for the company on the merit of his 89% stoppage rate and the fact that he gives them a somewhat credible entry point into the Hispanic market both North and South of the border.

I also like this new heavyweight reality from the perspective of asset management. Velasquez is likely to fight more often than Lesnar, which means a quicker turnaround for lucrative heavyweight title fights for the UFC. Lesnar is also now unquestionably the biggest non-title draw in the UFC and someone that can anchor a successful PPV card without title fight support. This single fight has just given Joe Silva a host of new options to play around with when booking fights over the next 6-12 months.

The Lesnar loss probably isn’t optimal from a short term perspective, but the combination of Velasquez as a dominant champion and Lesnar as versatile non-title draw will help the UFC cover the gap and even come out ahead in the long term.

Shields earns win, not fans

Jake Shields did what he does best on Saturday and that’s smother his opponent. It wasn’t an endearing performance and it seems reasonable to assume the UFC was looking for a little more from him last night. However, he did get the job done and remains the front runner to challenge the winner of GSP-Koscheck II, according to Dana White. The choice between Shields and Fitch – both of whom have similar styles – has likely come down to providing the welterweight division with a fresh-faced contender. Shields has been hyped for so long as the best welterweight outside the UFC that he’ll likely generate more interest than a guy like Fitch.

Note: Keep a close eye on the payouts this week. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of guaranteed money Shields received from the UFC to defect from Strikeforce.

Ortiz classy in defeat, but that may not help him

Tito Ortiz may have been all class on Saturday night, but I’m not sure that’s going to help him stay in the UFC. He’s now lost four of his last five bouts and is no longer a relevant player within his division – not even as a gate keeper. Furthermore he isn’t the PPV or live gate draw that he used to be which calls the nature of his sizable contract into question.

The new relationship between Ortiz and the UFC was founded upon mutual benefit, but I can’t see it lasting if Ortiz no longer brings something to the agreement. This is simply the nature of the business.

UFC 121 draws the smallest gate of Brock Lesnar’s career

The UFC drew 14,856 to the Honda Center on Saturday night for UFC 121, which generated $2.15 million at the gate. Here’s the paradox: UFC 121 has come in as the lowest gate of Brock Lesnar’s career but on an event that will likely become the second or third highest-grossing PPV card of his career.

It’s difficult to reconcile the above, but I think it’s largely reflective of ticket pricing. The range for this fight was $75, $125, $200, $300, $400 and $500. While the demand for this fight may have been there at lower ticket levels or on PPV, the $300+ tickets may have exceeded the Anaheim MMA area reservation price.

I’d be very interested to learn whether the UFC is experimenting with any sort of ticket pricing sensitivity models, because from what we’ve seen over the last few years it appears as though the company is leaving money on the table with some of these inflated prices. Sure, the UFC comps a couple thousand tickets every night and that’s great from an exposure perspective, but at some point you want to maximize ticket revenue. I’d also argue that there are benefits to making the consumer purchase a product that go well beyond short-term revenue: the consumer is far more engaged with a product when they’ve had to sacrifice something to get it and it’s certainly difficult to get someone to pay for something after they’ve been consuming it for free.

Sponsorship watch

UFC 121 marked the official debut of Boost Mobile as an official UFC sponsor. They had a host of cage and mat signage, cut graphics through the telecast, and a presence on the UFC promotional material in the weeks leading up to the fight. It’ll be interesting to see what they drum up in terms of activation. The company has already initiated a nationwide sweepstakes entitled Your Town, Our Fighter, which offers a UFC viewing party with the fighter of your choice. Interestingly, the promotional partner for this activation is Samsung. I’ve said for a while now that the consumer electronics industry ought to seriously look at a partnership with the UFC, and Samsung might be able to use this promotion with Boost as a way to test the waters.

UFC 121 Storylines: The Cain Velasquez Marketing Campaign

October 22, 2010

The UFC has not been shy in how they are promoting Cain Velasquez.  From the UFC 121 commercial stating that Cain could be the first Mexican champion, to the promotional videos shown below, the UFC is clearly banking on the Mexican fans to rally behind their potential Mexican HW champion Saturday night.


El Guerrero – Cain Velasquez:


Fight Hub – Cain Velasquez Gets Mobbed In LA


NOTABLE QUOTES:

StitchDuranWeigh-ins was jammed packed with rabid fans. When I started the only Chicanos interested in the UFC where me and Tito. Not any more.

E. Casey Leydon (All Elbows)The brown angle is working well right now judging by the crowd here at the weighins.

Wrestling Observer (subscription)There is interest in the Mexican community in the main event. It’s funny because they really don’t know Velasquez, but because of all the commercials, people do know that a Mexican is challenging for the world heavyweight title and that has piqued interest.


OTHER NOTES:

– Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez are Twitter trends in the USA today.  Velasquez is also a Twitter Trend topic worldwide.


Payout Perspective:

Boxing promoters have tried for many years to discover a Mexican HW champion that people could rally behind, knowing that the potential payoff in such a find would be huge due to the heavy Mexican support for their fellow fighters.  The strategy is nothing new to Boxing, who tried doing the same with John Ruiz (born in Massachusetts), who became the first Latino Heavyweight Champion after he defeated Evander Holyfield to capture the WBA HW Championship back in 2001.  Earlier this year, boxing was trying to do it again, though this time with newcomer Chris Arreola, but he was completely over-matched in his title bout against HW champion Vitali Klitschko.

The UFC is now trying to do something boxing has failed to do in the past, and that’s to find their “first” Mexican HW Champion (though Cain was born in the USA).  The potential payoff is huge again here, and if Cain were to win, the UFC can always come back to Southern California or Mexico, where Cain would become a huge star.  The reality is that once Julio Cesar Chavez and Oscar De La Hoya retired from boxing, the Mexican combat fans PPV money has been on hold waiting for the next national hero to appear and support. The UFC hopes that next “Mexican” star to be Velasquez after Saturday night.

Despite the success of the campaign, the marketing strategy has irked quite a few fans and many have complained about the UFC “over doing it”, but these opportunities don’t present themselves very often in combat sports, and the UFC is looking to be one of the first to be able to cash in on the opportunity.  The weigh-ins for this event have already been reported to having more Mexican/Latino fans than ever before.  The only question now is if Cain can deliver and give the Mexican fight fans someone they can rally behind, which will ultimately mean a growing audience in the coveted Latino demographic.

EA Sports MMA: Payout Perspective

October 22, 2010

It’s been a few days since EA Sports MMA was released, and what seemed liked a bit of pessimism based on fan and critic reaction from the demo a few weeks back, has now turned into optimism for future MMA games with the much improved released version of the game.

MMAPayout will take a look at some of the critic reviews and what the fans are now saying about the game.

GamePro Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

EA Sports MMA isn’t perfect, the lack of UFC fighters is a huge gaping hole that is impossible to ignore and the number of special moves available are fairly slim. Those problems are overshadowed by smooth animations, intuitive controls, and incredibly dynamic online features. By not being limited to the UFC brand EA has used the resulting freedom to present more of a worldwide MMA experience, such as the inclusion of alternate rule sets or the ability to fight in the cage or ring. Despite lacking the dominant brand in MMA [and according to Dana White, president of UFC, having the audacity to claim it wasn’t even a real sport—Ed.], EA has made a compelling and fun game and has raised the bar for what gamers should expect of their MMA games in the future. (GamePro)


GameInformer Rating: 8.5/10

EA’s first attack on the mixed martial arts scene heads back to its corner looking pretty strong, but there are still a few holes in its defense, one of which is the game’s roster. There are some great fighters in this game – such as Fedor Emelianenko, Satoru Kitaoka, and Randy Couture – but without the UFC license and many of its most potent combatants, there is a large hole in the game’s roster. The game’s presentation also lacks a bit of the spectacle and style found in real broadcasts. I’d also like to see some refinement to the submission system as the minigames you use to put the hurt on your opponents feel a little gimmicky. Despite these issues, EA Sports MMA is still a powerful brawler, and another year or two in the gym should turn it into a true monster. (GameInformer)


GameShark Rating: 9.1 (A-)

EA Sports MMA is a strong first entry that is only slightly held back by the lack of more common fighters from the UFC, but the inclusion of big names like Randy Couture, Fedor Emelianenko, Bob Sapp and Tim Sylvia ease the blow. It’s great to see some real competition for THQ in this genre and MMA fans shouldn’t hesitate to pick this one up. (GameShark)


Joystiq Rating: 4/5 Stars

Comparisons between MMA and THQ’s UFC Undisputed franchise are inevitable, but the two games offer up very different experiences that are, for the most part, complementary. MMA is a fuller game that celebrates the broadest scope of the sport with a loving precision, while UFC brings out a roster of more recognizable fighters for a more casual, beer-and-buddies experience.

It remains to be seen if there is enough interest to support both franchises, but with the series’ first outing, EA Sports MMA provides not only a must-play experience for fans, but a compelling argument for a two-MMA-game world. (JoyStiq)


IGN Rating: 8/10 (Impressive)

EA Sports MMA wrestles away the belt from the reigning champ with its stellar combat that feels much closer to the genuine article than what we’ve seen elsewhere. While its modes don’t span the same breadth of other sports titles, it gets things like the international flavor of MMA and the raw nature of the sport down perfectly. Now if they can just refine the AI a bit and add some meat to the scope of the career mode, this one will transcend MMA games and could contend for a spot as one of the best sports games of the year. (IGN)

***

EA Sports MMA Sales and Impact on The Strikeforce Brand

On the sales side of the launch, Loretta Hunt of the LA Times was able to reach EA Sports marketing manager Randy Chase and was notified that EA MMA was doing comparable numbers to THQ’s UFC Undisputed 2010.

And while Chase said EA doesn’t release its sales figures, he did confirm that the game’s distribution numbers are on par with the UFC title. Chase said the company has already started to work on an updated installment, and the game leader plans to alternate release years with its “Fight Night” boxing game.

As for what type of impact the release of the game could have on Strikeforce, here is what Randy Couture had to say:

Strikeforce, which trails the UFC as the second most recognizable promotion in the U.S., is featured heavily in EA’s game and stands to gain much-needed exposure in a market mostly dominated by the UFC.

“The brands and the promotions will be recognizable (in the game) to those people that weren’t exposed to MMA before, so when they seek out the sport, those are probably the brands they’re going to seek out,” said Couture.

On the mobile front, EA Mobile also released EA Sports MMA for the iPhone, which is also compatible with the iPod and iPad Apple mobile devices.  So far, it appears to be a success with the Apple customers who have downloaded the game, getting very positive reviews and a Customer Rating of 4.5/5 stars.  The game currently ranks in the top 35 most popular paid apps and ranks as the 12th most grossing app for Apple, selling for $4.99 a unit.


Payout Perspective:

It’s still early since the release, but from the feedback we have received, the game seems to be a pretty big hit with the fans.  In fact, many that were skeptical from the demo release have changed their opinions after playing the full version of the game.

Although the initial response has been great, lets not forget THQ’s UFC Undisputed 2010 received great reviews but after playing the game for a while, fans started to show great frustration with the games career mode and online play, which many said was almost non-functional and really hindered the replay value of the game.  This could still be the case for EA MMA, so we will hold back our final decision on the game for just a bit longer.  As of now, fan reaction of the game has been extremely positive.

If there are any gripes to the game so far, coming from both customers and critics, it’s the lack of UFC fighters in the game (obviously) except for the likes of Jake Shields, Vladimir “The Janitor” Matyushenko, and Randy Couture. We can say that the lack of the UFC license and roster, as pointed by the critics,  is offset a bit by the deeper career mode, the online functionality, the fun factor, and the Create-A-Fighter feature which lets gamers create or download fan-made fighters (which include fan-made UFC fighters).

In the end, the lack of the UFC brand will indeed hurt the sale numbers of the game, not to mention the heavy competition the EA Sports MMA title received from video game titles releasing that same week such as Fallout: New Vegas, DJ Hero 2, Time Crisis: Razing Storm, and Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 to name a few. It is important to note that this is the second MMA title (UFC Undisputed 2010) to be released in the last six months, which will definitely impact those MMA fans which have already purchased the UFC title just a few months back.  Some analyst are expecting low sale figures for the game and the pre-order numbers show that it wont be a runaway hit by any means, but if EA can establish a fanbase with this release,  they definitely have a franchise worth their while to keep growing.  It is also one of those games where word-of-mouth from happy customers can have an impact in sales later on.

What this video game does nicely, and something I have touched upon before, is display a mutual benefit relationship and synergy between EA and Strikeforce.  If the game does good sale numbers, it would mean great exposure for the Strikeforce brand and it’s fighters. It would also benefit EA Sports for Strikeforce to keep growing as an MMA promotion, which would create a bigger fanbase of their brand, and ultimately, would create more potential customers for EA’s future installments of the game.

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