Thursday, July 23, 2009

OP-ED; UFC vs EA Sports

Update: Added a link, pointing out the economical success of UFC 100.

With EA Sports announcement at E3 jumping into Mix Martial Arts foray, squaring up in the octagon and hitting the canvas with ferocity, fans of the sport and videogame enthusiasts would be open to the competition of having a competing title to THQ's superb, 1 million unit breaking (according to the NPD Group), UFC Undisputed 2009 game.

President of UFC, Dana White, is enraged at EA Sports decision to jump into the MMA business. Dana White comments on EA Sports on the night of UFC's most successful event, UFC 100 earned over 5 million at the gate, has confirmed a "war" with EA Sports. Has this pissing match of words gone too far or just started? Can President of EA Sports, Peter Moore, succeed in matching the sales of THQ's UFC Undispitued 2009? Is this beginning of EA Sports becoming a promoter of some kind of, EA MMA Fight Night at your local sports center?

Not everyone is an excited bunch, UFC President Dana White, speaking to MMA Junkie, had choice words for EA and any fighter who signs to fight (in the game that is) in EA's MMA,"

"We put our asses on the line, THQ and the UFC, to make a video-game deal in the worst economy in the world," White said. "We go out there and do this thing, and it's successful, and now [expletive] EA Sports wants to do a video game. Really? That's not what you told us a year-and-a-half ago.

"You told us you'd never be in business with us. They wouldn't even take a meeting because mixed martial arts disgusted them. This wasn't a real sport. Boy, they got over that real quick, didn't they?" "I'm not tap-dancing around this thing or whatever," White said. "I'm telling you straight-up, I'm at war with them right now. That's how I look at it."

"You won't be in the UFC,"

"You know what the difference is?" White asked. "I'm in the mixed martial arts business. EA isn't.

"EA doesn't give a [expletive] about mixed martial arts. They made that very clear."

To translate, Dana White offered EA Sports the UFC license, but were turned away, either because of the disagreement how fighting would be portray (too disgusting according to Dana White), or EA Sports said UFC was not a sport (probably meant as, UFC does do not high enough numbers to be considered a marketable sport a year and a half ago according to EA). Since UFC signed with THQ, Dana White has a special interest that his label succeeds (UFC is a label, like the NFL, MLB, MLS because they are not just sporting leagues but are marketable and profitable businesses as well). The hypocrisy weighs heavily on Dana White shoulders, as he should know, since he was the one who got into the MMA game by purchasing UFC from its previous owners.
Has two years really pass since Peter Moore's announcement from moving Redmond to Redwood Shores? It was actually July 17, 2007 when it was announced, and yes it is possible that Peter may have seen the EA MMA title in some form of concept before and right after that date. It maybe also possible, it was Peter Moore who said "NO" to Dana White, but according to White that meeting did not happen...

EA Sports President Peter Moore did not directly respond to UFC president Dana White, but in his official blog he wrote,"

"I love mixed martial arts, and we've been working on a game concept since I came to EA two years ago. I have great respect for the organizations and individuals that have invested in the sport's growth over the past decade - so this is one that is near and dear to me and I'm excited to see such good progress to date. I trace my MMA video game roots back to my support of Crave's UFC title on the Dreamcast in 2000, and have been a fan ever since. Our title will bring both innovation and further authenticity to mixed martial arts, not to mention a strong global publishing network that will help spread the sport's popularity around the world."

To translate, EA Sports president, of MS, Sega, and Reebok fame, Peter Moore has had his eye on the growing interest on mix martial arts in the Western World i.e. USA, UK and Europe. Peter has great respect to individuals and organizations who have invested in mma in the past decade, (he must be talking to philanthropists who have open jui juistu centers in flavelas or other poor areas in third world countries). Or is Peter referring to UFC previous owners, who must've worked with Crave and Sega to release a game on the Dreamcast (during a moment of hysteria, AZ Senator John McCain called MMA the equivalency of human cockfighting)? So how is EA Sports going to compete with a label that operates 90% of mma? By going worldwide of course, like its other game, FIFA, EA will probably sign with other smaller but known fighters from up and coming, although, smaller promoters.

Competition is a great thing, there is no doubting that concept, but in Dana White's business plan his company's goal on having the UFC become the NFL of mma in the US (the world?) really threaten by EA Sports coming into the marketplace? Or this the moment when EA Sports becomes more of a label of just videogames and become a promoter of some kind and partnership with smaller, yet competitive promoters?

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