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April 11, 2024

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Sega and Electronic Arts battle it out over video game supremecy

Football competition is fiercer than ever this year, but not only for NFL teams.

A battle rages between two video game publishers.

Electronic Arts and Sega, two heavyweights in the video game industry, have successful football simulation games that contend for market share.

Electronic Arts’ Madden NFL series celebrates its tenth anniversary with Madden NFL 2005. Last year, Madden NFL 2004 sold the most copies of any video game in any genre.

Sega’s NFL 2K series, on the other hand, garners critical acclaim with each new release.

According to Game Rankings, a website that tracks video game reviews across the internet, every NFL 2K game has an average review score between 9.0 and 9.8.

Despite Sega’s success among critics, Electronic Arts sells more copies of its football games year after year.

Jordan Edelstein, senior project manager on Madden NFL 2005, believes his development team’s innovation makes the series so popular.

“We challenge ourselves to make the game significantly different than the year before,” Edelstein said, adding that Madden is the “authentic” fooball video game because of its large community of fans.

Sega upped the competitive ante July when it released ESPN NFL 2K5 with a price point of $19.99 instead of the series’ traditional price of $49.99. While previous NFL 2K games were released in August or September, 2K5’s release date was July 20.

Electronic Arts prices Madden NFL 2005 at $49.99 and released their game August 9. Sega expects the $30 lower price tag and two week head start on Madden to give ESPN 2K5 a sales boost.

The effectiveness of Sega’s measures is in question, however. 792,000 copies of ESPN NFL 2K5 were sold in the game’s first two weeks. By contrast, 1.35 million copies of Madden NFL 2005 were sold in its first week alone. It remains to be seen how the titles will fare through the holiday season.

ESPN 2K5’s reduced price tag does not intimidate Electronic Arts. Said Edelstein, “Consumers are comfortable paying $50 (for Madden).” As long as sales continue to be strong, Electronic Arts will not drop Madden NFL’s price to match ESPN NFL, he said.

While Sega and Electronic Arts are the only active players in the electronic football conflict, there are competitors on the disabled list.

Hardware and software publishers Sony and Microsoft each have their own series of football games.

Sony’s GameDay series began in 1995 and Microsoft’s NFL Fever series released its first game in 1999. Both companies announced earlier this year they would not release a new game in 2004.

According to a press release, Sony is taking the year off to “catch up to the competitors of the marketplace.” The publisher said it will add new technology and staff for GameDay’s next expected release in 2005.

Microsoft announced several months ago that it would not release any team-based sports games, such as NFL Fever, in 2004. At the time, it cited concerns with the games’ quality and said new versions of its games would be ready for 2005.

That was the case until two weeks ago when Microsoft closed its Sports Games Studio. The move axed 76 employees and cancelled Microsoft’s football, baseball and hockey games.

Genevieve Waldman, public relations representative for Microsoft Game Studios says Microsoft no longer has plans to publish team-based sports games in the future. “A vibrant ecosystem of third-party developers has emerged,” Waldman said, “which is why you’re seeing these changes.”

Reopening the Sports Games Studio is a possibility in the future but the company has no current plans.

As for students of the university, reactions to this year’s football games are mixed.

Justin Brandley prefers Sega’s ESPN NFL 2K5. “Graphics-wise it’s a lot better (than Madden),” he said. “It’s the most realistic football game I’ve ever played.”

Brandley said Madden does not change very much from year to year while ESPN 2K5 has new features like the first-person view.

Steven Gesicki said ESPN 2K5’s low price is a big selling point. “It’s 20 bucks,” Gesicki said, “what else do you need?”

Ryan Gasser plays Madden NFL 2005 often.

He said the improvements made to the defense in the game are noticeable. “It’s a lot easier to be a defensive back,” he said.

Gasser played ESPN NFL 2K5 once, calling it a good substitute for Madden. “The best part about (ESPN NFL 2K5) is that it’s $20,” he said. “If it wasn’t for Madden I would’ve bought it.”

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