Tuesday, August 22: The Biggest Release of This (and Every) Year?

Dennis Faas's picture

Although we here at Infopackets routinely work to keep our readers updated on the most significant computer software and hardware releases, too rarely do we report exclusively on the launch of other notable products.

August 22 features the release of the latest version in a franchise that is becoming so popular that the it has made late summer something to look forward to (even as teenagers drag their feet back into the classroom). On Tuesday, August 22nd, Electronic Arts will release Madden '07 -- a game that every year quietly goes about dominating the industry and, arguably, tech culture.

Before you folks uninterested in games sigh and click away, take a look at some interesting numbers. Gaming sales last year were $10.5 billion, a number that has routinely rivaled the total defense budget of my home of beer and maple syrup. Pretty crazy, eh? For those hosers still not impressed, games are showing a marked growth, with last year's sales improving on the two previous annual market reports of $9.9 and $10.2 billion. (Source: gamasutra.com)

Where does Madden fit in? Well, for those unfamiliar, the Madden series is named after the popular -- and sometimes incoherent -- football color commentary guru John Madden. The former coach rarely has much to do with the game, but since the title itself routinely flies off the shelf, why change a formula that has been successful for over a decade, from Sega's Genesis to the fledgling Xbox 360?

So yes, Madden '07 is a National Football League licensed game. It is also the only NFL licensed game. Two years ago, Electronic Arts brought many gamers into an uproar by purchasing exclusive rights to the NFL name, teams, and players, essentially cutting out the popular competition from the ESPN franchise.

And yet, the results speak for themselves. Last year, Madden 06 -- for the Playstation 2 (PS2) alone -- was the most purchased game. The year before that, only the monumental releases of Halo 2 for Xbox and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for PS2 could overcome the might of Madden. The significance? The two games that beat out Madden in 2004 take years -- at least 3 to 4 -- to complete, making the annual release of EA's football franchise both a huge money-maker and a cultural phenomenon. (Source: gamasutra.com)

And, make no mistake, Madden represents the video game culture. Although the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) reports that sports titles made up just 3.7% of 2005 sales, Madden is the most-bought game almost every year. Ask anyone from casual to hardcore gamers, and almost all will have admitted to purchasing at least one Madden title in the last three years. (Source: theesa.com)

So, as everyone seems to ramp up for Vista, remember that in just a few days a title will be released that *every year* dominates a $10.5 billion industry.

Are you ready for some football?

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