September 1, 2011
UFC Undisputed 3, from video game maker THQ is giving gamers the chance to vote for the fighter they would like to see on the cover. The video game is set to debut January 12th.
The fans can choose from Frankie Edgar, GSP, Anderson Silva, Jon Jones and Cain Velasquez. In addition to voting for their favorite fighter, fans will have the opportunity to win a trip to Las Vegas for UFC 137.
Look here for a promotion video for the game featuring Cain Velasquez.
No Jose Aldo or Dominick Cruz? Unfortunately the snub is another sign that the UFC needs to build up its lighter divisions so that fans will become more familiar with them. With 125ers coming in 2012, it seems like this will be a necessity. Realistically, the UFC needs a major name in one of the major divisions to grace the cover of its new game.
The promotion is a similar to EA’s NCAA Football 2012 where fans voted for their favorite player on Facebook. Its still a good way to infuse interest in the video game and get MMA gamers interested in getting the game.
April 21, 2011
THQ and Zuffa announced a partnership to promote UFC 131: Lesnar vs. Dos Santos using the UFC’s official Facebook game. The grand prize winner will win a trip for two to UFC 131 in Vancouver.
Via THQ press release:
AGOURA HILLS, Calif. – April 20, 2011 – THQ Inc. (NASDAQ: THQI) and Zuffa, LLC today announced a consumer sweepstakes surrounding UFC® 131: LESNAR vs. DOS SANTOS via UFC® Undisputed Fight Nation™, the official Facebook game based on the world’s leading mixed martial arts (MMA) organization, the Ultimate Fighting Championship®. Available for download at http://apps.facebook.com/ufcfightnation, players may enter the sweepstakes through an on-screen pop-up display after training moves and competing against others with their virtual UFC fighters to reach Level 5 within the game. One grand prize winner will receive a trip for two to UFC 131, currently scheduled for June 11, 2011 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia. The trip includes two tickets to UFC 131, roundtrip airfare, hotel accommodations and a stipend for meals and/or spending money. One first prize winner will receive an autographed UFC poster and a $250 UFC gift certificate for use on ufcstore.com, while 10 second-prize winners will receive $50 UFC gift certificates for use on ufcstore.com.
THQ is sponsoring the UFC Undisputed Fight Nation sweepstakes, which is open to residents of the United States and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and over. Participants can enter the contest between now and 12:00 p.m. PT on May 6, 2011. There is no purchase necessary to participate, and the sweepstakes is void where prohibited. Further information regarding the sweepstakes, including rules and eligibility requirements, may be found at community.ufcundisputed.com.
“The launch of UFC Undisputed Fight Nation earlier this year provided us with an invaluable way to share the virtual UFC experience in a social networking environment,” said Danny Bilson, Executive Vice President, Core Games, THQ. “Through announcement of the UFC 131 consumer sweepstakes, we look forward to engaging even more players on Facebook as they experience solid training tools, competitive gameplay and tremendous replay value.”
The collaboration between THQ and the UFC integrates its social media (Facebook), gaming component and the promotion of the upcoming UFC PPV. The partnership mobilizes the THQ brand by promoting consumers to play the UFC Undisputed Fight Nation game online at the UFC Facebook home page. Successful players will promote the game via social networks such as Facebook. For the UFC, its another opportunity for fans to go to its Facebook page and attract more unique visitors.
April 7, 2011
XBox announced via twitter that it will release the UFC Personal Trainer game for the Kinect system. Coming this June, the game will take people through a full body controller-free workout via the Kinect. Video game maker THQ developed the UFC Personal Trainer.
The game will be released June 21, 2011 and have a price point of $49.99.
Via THQ press release (H/t Gaming Online Journal):
Set personal goals and achieve real results with an unparalleled mixed martial arts (MMA) fitness program designed by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and leading MMA training experts. UFC Personal Trainer provides players with an extensive assortment of effective and challenging MMA-inspired exercises, in both pre-set and customizable routines, to build strength, increase endurance, burn calories and get results. Personalized instruction and tips from the MMA trainers guide players to stay motivated, get fit and track their goals with a helpful in-game journal. In addition, the game’s Ultimate Training Mode enables players to participate in high impact agility drills, with opportunities to earn rewards and have fun with friends in a competitive, multiplayer environment.
- AUTHENTIC UFC FITNESS EXPERIENCE – Designed by NASM with support from leading by leading MMA training experts Mark DellaGrotte, Greg Jackson and Javier Mendez, UFC Personal Trainer will deliver a challenging and motivating UFC fitness experience that includes the best and most effective exercises utilized by today’s renowned UFC fighters.
- INTENSE MIXED MARTIAL ARTS EXERCISES – Learn over 70 MMA and NASM-approved exercises, including moves from disciplines such as wrestling, kickboxing and Muay Thai, that are designed to improve strength, endurance and conditioning through use in a variety of routines. Each in-game routine is specialized to target specific muscle groups, as well as factor individual skill levels and fitness goals.
- CUSTOMIZABLE WORKOUT ROUTINES – Focus on specific fitness objectives by building personalized routines with up to 12 different exercises. Each custom routine can also be modified to increase or decrease intensity of the game’s pre-set pace, enabling players to fully maximize their training experiences based on individual preferences.
- PERSONALIZED TRAINING TOOLS – Receive additional guidance and encouragement throughout the fitness journey by choosing a goal and working with an MMA trainer for personalized instruction. Players will learn MMA-inspired exercises, as well as authentic training techniques and healthy lifestyle choices, enabling them to burn calories, build strength, lose weight and meet goals through a comprehensive fitness experience.
- ULTIMATE TRAINING MODE – Hit the mitts against several popular UFC fighters with a variety of challenging rhythm and timing-based agility drills that utilize punching and kicking sequences. Players can unlock a variety of different drills to earn rewards, each with increasing difficulty, as well as compete against friends and issue challenges in a multiplayer environment.
- DEDICATED PROGRAM SYSTEM – Focusing on three distinct target goals – losing weight, building strength and improving performance – players may select a pre-set 30 or 60-day program that best meets their fitness needs. The selected program populates the in-game calendar with daily routines for players to follow, as well as tracks user performance.
- PROGRESS TRACKING AND MOTIVATIONAL SUPPORT – An in-game journal enables players to view a comprehensive calendar of their fitness activities, including specific routines, time management and more. The calendar continuously tracks progress and provides recommendations to help players meet their desired results.
The UFC Personal Trainer will also be available on the PS3 Move and Wii video game consoles.
This game should garner a lot of interest. There have been many workout DVDs and online training systems featuring MMA workouts. Many professional athletes and regular people have turned to MMA as a way to get a good workout. It was only a matter of time before the UFC chimed in with a full body workout system for the Xbox, Playstation and Wii consoles.
April 1, 2011
University of Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray is campaigning to be on the cover of EA Sports newest version of its NCAA Football game. Murray has stated that he will wear a UFC logo on draft day if he wins. As a result
EA Sports is running a contest where people can log on to EA’s Facebook page and vote for one of four college football stars entering the pros. The players are University of Washington’s Jake Locker (my choice), Auburn’s Nick Fairley, Alabama’s Mark Ingram and Murray. Voting ends April 4th.
After finding out about this, the UFC is getting behind Murray’s campaign. Dana White announced on his twitter for his followers to log on and vote for Murray. A reminder to vote is also on the UFC’s Facebook page.
(H/t: MMA Mania)
Good PR for the UFC, for EA’s NCAA Football game and good personal PR for Murray. Murray is a UFC fan that is a Las Vegas native. According to MMA Junkie, he has trained in MMA (or at least used MMA conditioning).
Via MMA Junkie:
“I love training MMA,” Murray told UFC.com. “It’s definitely a lot different than what I do on the football field, but some things you can translate into your game. I spent three, four weeks in Las Vegas training with [striking coach James Gifford] at Lorenzo’s gym, and that definitely helped me out a lot with my hand coordination and speed, along with working muscles that I’ve never worked on in football.
I think the EA idea to include fans to vote on the cover using its social media platform is a great way to get people involved in the process. From Murray’s personal branding, reaching out to UFC fans was a creative way to open up a segment of the audience that would not have necessarily voted for the cover. For the UFC, its another way it sees an opportunity and capitalizes on it. Certainly, the UFC could have let this slide, but it took the initiative to campaign for Murray. If Murray wins, it will be a success for the UFC and free PR. If he doesn’t, there won’t be too much lost since nothing really was invested.
Of course, with the NFL labor issues, its not clear if Murray will be in attendance in New York City. Second, its not a guarantee he is a first round pick which could give him a prime spot to show off a UFC logo.
February 3, 2011
THQ Inc. and Zuffa, LLC today announced the latest edition to their sports videogame franchise with the launch of UFC Undisputed Fight Nation, the first official UFC Facebook game.
The interactive experience, developed by Embassy Interactive and available on Facebook at apps.facebook.com/ufcfightnation, allows players to take control of their virtual UFC careers in a fun and engaging environment by training moves, competing against others and sharing their results on Facebook, as well as enabling them to successfully manage their progress for the opportunity to compete against many of the UFC’s most renowned fighters.
“We are excited about the tremendous opportunities available in the social networking space to deliver key franchises to our core audiences in unique and compelling ways,” said Danny Bilson, Executive Vice President, Core Games, THQ. “UFC Undisputed Fight Nation delivers a great combination of gameplay, competitive spirit and replay value, making it the perfect fit for millions around the world to enjoy on Facebook.”
In UFC Undisputed Fight Nation, players train with guidance from UFC President Dana White to master moves from multiple mixed martial arts disciplines, compete against friends and other Fight Nation members inside the virtual OctagonTM and share their results on Facebook as they progress from student to professional in their virtual careers. Players are given access to a number of mixed martial arts camps to build their arsenal of moves, including wrestling, kickboxing, Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as the ability to decide which moves are taken into each fight.
Through successful management of fight experience and training, players will “level up” their fighters to reach new career milestones, unlocking access to items such as new training camps and more skill points to build fighting and training needs, including energy, health and stamina. Players will also earn Cred for their achievements, enabling them to acquire items from the in-game store to train specific moves, access new camps, replenish health and increase stamina. A UFC Points system is available for those who wish to progress their careers faster and purchase the items through monetary transaction, while a Gifting option lets players show respect to their friends by sending them complimentary boosts of energy, stamina or health to aid their progress.
As part of the UFC Undisputed Fight Nation experience, the accomplished player will earn opportunities compete against and learn moves through Pro Fights from a number of today’s most prominent UFC fighters, including current champions Cain Velasquez, Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre and Frankie Edgar. As well, players will have access to a live Twitter feed, keeping them up to date on the latest UFC news and events.
The UFC has shown a great deal of focus on social media as of late, mostly directing fans to access their Facebook page to watch live prelim fights and now, in conjunction with THQ, releasing UFC Undisputed Fight Nation. I’ve stressed what a powerful tool social media has become to MMA promotions, and the UFC is taking full advantage of the reach Twitter and Facebook gives them.
The UFC is hoping to create an interactive community here, one where fans can come to watch fights, play games, and interact with other members which they are able to track and collect information to analyze and further improve attacking their target market and demographic, not to mention the interaction the game will create between their audience and their brand. Facebook reaches over 600 million people and is one of the fastest growing social entities in the world. Heavily focusing on the social media platform now appears to be the priority for the UFC at this moment, hoping to cash in on the investment in the long run as it sets itself apart from other sporting leagues around the world.
December 13, 2010
On December 8, 2010, Zuffa, LLC filed a complaint against Ubisoft, Inc. in the United States District Court for the District of Nevada alleging trademark infringement based on the packaging for the Ubisoft video game, “Fighters Uncaged.” (hat tip Robert Joyner).
According to Zuffa, the “UFC® names and logos are trademarks that are owned by Plaintiff and registered on the Principal Register of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, including, among others:
ULTIMATE FIGHTING: Registration No. 2,925,669 for goods and services, namely, compact discs, laser video discs, digital video discs, digital versatile discs and CD-ROM discs, all featuring sports events and mixed martial arts; computer software for programming video games in the field of sports and entertainment; video game cartridges and discs; computer game cartridges;
Zuffa alleges that since 1993 it, and its predecessors, made continuous use of the UFC® marks, including the Ultimate Fighting name and mark:
As a result of the extensive advertising and promotion of the ULTIMATE FIGHTING CHAMPIONSHIP® brand, ‘ULTIMATE FIGHTING,’ either standing alone or in conjunction with the word ‘CHAMPIONSHIP,’ has become and is distinctive and famous for mixed martial arts.” “‘ULTIMATE FIGHTING’ and ‘ULTIMATE FIGHTING CHAMPIONSHIP’ have acquired a special significance and meaning to the consuming public as identifying Zuffa and the UFC® as the source of origin of goods and services, and mixed martial arts in particular, which bear the ‘ULTIMATE FIGHTING’® name and mark.
Specifically, as to video games, Zuffa alleges that it “has entered into license agreements with certain video game manufacturers that have produced numerous mixed martial arts video games lawfully using UFC® fighters, which, in turn, use the UFC® and the ULTIMATE FIGHTING® names and marks,” including, inter alia, “‘Undisputed 2009’ for XBox 360 and Playstation 3 was released for sale to the public on May 19, 2009; and ‘Undisputed 2010,’ the sequel, for XBox 360, Playstation 3, and Playstation Portable, was released for sale to the public on May 25, 2010.”
Zuffa alleges that “‘Undisputed 2009’ and ‘Undisputed 2010’ both note on their respective back covers that the UL TIMATE FIGHTING® name and mark is a registered trademark.”
Zuffa alleges upon information and belief that Ubisoft “recently released for sale to the public ‘Fighters Uncaged,’ a mixed martial arts video game about illegal street fighting for XBox 360.”
The crux of the complaint is Zuffa’s allegation that “[o]n the back cover of the video game, Defendant invites players to ‘Become the ULTIMATE FIGHTING weapon!’, setting the words ‘ULTIMATE FIGHTING’ apart from the other text by depicting the words in bolded capital letters.”
Zuffa attached a copy of the back of the “Fighters Uncaged” box to its papers, which includes, in part the following:
Zuffa alleges that Ubisoft’s “use of the ULTIMATE FIGHTING name and mark is identical or confusingly similar to the use of the UFC® Marks, including the ULTIMATE FIGHTING® name and mark on Zuffa’s licensed video games.”
Zuffa asserts claims for “trademark infringement, trademark dilution and unfair competition under federal statutes, with pendent state and/or common law claims for trademark infringement, and deceptive trade practices.”
Zuffa seeks “damages, attorneys’ fees, costs, and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief.”
My quick take on the complaint is as follows. Plaintiff does have a registration for the mark for video games and this video game is directly competitive. I do not think that the fact that Fighters Uncaged involves illegal street fighting – as opposed to the sport of MMA — is determinative.
While the Zuffa mark is weak, i.e. it registered 2(f), there is an argument given the large bold (all capitalized) font for “Ultimate Fighting” that Ubisoft’s alleged use is not purely descriptive and may be infringing. Moreover, Zuffa clearly has an interest in protecting its mark so the lawsuit makes sense from a practical standpoint.
Justin Klein is an attorney at Satterlee Stephens Burke & Burke LLP in New York City where he concentrates his practice in commercial litigation and represents clients in the fight industry. He regularly addresses current legal issues that pertain to combat sports, including efforts to legalize MMA in New York, at his Fight Lawyer website. He is a licensed boxing manager with the New York State Athletic Commission as well as the founder and Chairman of the Board of the New York Mixed Martial Arts Initiative, a non-profit organization that gives inner city youth the opportunity to experience the emotional and physical benefits of martial arts training. Justin lives in New York City where he trains in jiu jitsu and boxing.
The information in this post and on my site consists of my opinion only, i.e., it is not the opinion of my employer or anybody else. In addition, and because this is my opinion, it is not intended to be (and is not) legal advice or an advertisement for legal services. This post provides general information only. Although I encourage interested parties to contact me on the subjects discussed in the articles, the reader should not consider information on this site to be an invitation for an attorney-client relationship. I disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any contents of this post. Any e-mail sent to me will not create an attorney-client relationship, and you should not use this site or my site to send me e-mail containing confidential or sensitive information.
November 24, 2010
In the spirit of the holidays, I would like to share some great deals for MMA and video game fans who have held off buying any titles until the holiday deals to save a couple of bucks. I will also discuss the recent EA Sports MMA and UFC Undisputed 2010 iPhone/iPad releases along with overall sale figures.
Best Buy Link:
EA Sports MMA and UFC Undisputed 2010 Updates:
UFC Undisputed 2010 was released on the iPad and iPhone by THQ Wireless on Nov 12, 2010 (selling for $6.99) just a few weeks after EA Sports MMA was released by EA Mobile (selling for $4.99) on the same platforms on October 20, 2010. As of today, EA Sports MMA has had 405 customers review the app, while UFC Undisputed 2010 has only had 17 customers review the app.
Both games have received good customer feedback, but it appears that after 12 days of being available on the Apple Store, UFC Undisputed has not taken off with the fans. It is currently not in to the top 50 most popular apps or in the top grossing apps, where EA Sports MMA was ranked in the top 35 most popular paid apps and ranked as the 12th most grossing app for apple a week after it was released. Not exactly sure why Undisputed has not taken off on the iPhone/iPad yet considering the good reviews so far, but the $2 dollar pricing difference between the games could be impacting the sales, along with THQ releasing the mobile version of the game months after the console version was already released.
On the console side, EA Sports MMA has sold roughly 45,000 copies in its first month of release according to GameIndustry.biz. On the other hand, UFC Undisputed 2010 roughly sold 413,000 copies in its first mont of sales, which was considered disappointing due to the lofty expectations Undisputed 2009 created for THQ.
The year has been a tough one for MMA video game releases, where analysts attributed the weaker than expected sales due to releasing the games around the same dates blockbusters like Red Dead Redemption (over 1.5 million copies sold worldwide) and Fallout: New Vegas (over 5 million copies shipped worldwide) were set to also release. GameSpot reports that “… a number of analysts–Wilson included–circulated notes to investors offering their takes on what did and didn’t live up to expectations. While NBA 2K11 and Fallout: New Vegas both exceeded Wilson’s expectations, many of the month’s other high-profile games did not. In particular, Wilson called NBA Jam for the Wii and EA MMA “dismal failures so far.”
THQ’s bottom line was heavily impacted this year due to lower than expected game sales, which include the UFC Undisputed 2010 sales, as the company saw their shares sharply drop from $8.29/share to $5.01/share as it currently stands this year. In response, THQ has pushed out their release cycle from 12 months to 18 months, hoping to get better results on their next release. EA Sports, who reportedly lost over $200 million last quarter, originally announced to release EA Sports MMA every other year alternating with a Fight Night release. At the moment, EA has said that it is too early to make any decisions on a future EA Sports MMA title, as they will wait and analyze the sale numbers throughout the holiday season.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
October 21, 2010
THQ and Zuffa have officially announced an extension of their exclusive video game licensing deal to continue publishing their UFC branded franchises through 2018.
THQ Inc. today announced that it has extended its exclusive, worldwide agreement with Zuffa, LLC to publish videogames based on the Ultimate Fighting Championship(R) (UFC(R)) brand through 2018.
“We’re very excited to extend our relationship with Zuffa and the Ultimate Fighting Championship,” said Danny Bilson, Executive Vice President, Core Games, THQ. “Working closely together with Dana White and the incredible team at UFC, we plan to continue to deliver outstanding interactive UFC experiences to gamers around the world in all new ways, including social, mobile and brand extensions.”
“THQ has delivered the quality demanded by UFC and its fans with the first two Undisputed(TM) games and we are about to broaden the UFC brand experience among gaming fans through social and mobile apps,” said Dana White, UFC President. “We are impressed by the passion that THQ brings to making great games and we look forward to working together to create even greater gaming experiences for our fans in the future.”
Under the terms of the agreement, THQ has obtained the rights to create videogames for all current and next-generation consoles, PC and handheld platforms, in addition to certain social media and wireless rights, including iPhone and iPad. Rights also include online, downloadable and multi-player capabilities in connection with the various gaming systems.
The deal was struck just a few months after UFC Undisputed 2010 fell short of expectations, shipping 2.7 million units for gaming consoles, trailing UFC Undisputed 2009 who shipped 3.5 million units the year before. Due to the drop in sales, THQ decided to delay the next UFC Undisputed release and move the development for the title into a 15-to-21 month cycle instead of the originally planned yearly release. Since the next Undisputed release is not scheduled until the first quarter of 2012, THQ and Zuffa are planning to release UFC Trainer (a motion-sensored workout game) in January of 2011 for the Wii, PlayStation Move, and the Xbox 360′s Kinect.
The move to extend the licensing agreement with THQ was a bit of a surprise for some industry insiders, who expected Zuffa to shop around for the highest bidder. Instead, UFC and THQ agreed to an extension which would guarantee at least 4-5 more Undisputed titles and plenty of other side projects such as the UFC Trainer game within that period. The deal also guarantees exclusivity for the UFC brand to be developed into video games for the PSP, iPhone, and iPad mobile devices, which will be a vital market to target within the next few years. Last month, THQ released Undisputed 2010 on the Sony PSP mobile platform.