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Comic for: December 15th, 2004
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EA Sports: "HuggyBear loves you."
Posted: Wednesday December 15th, 2004 by

News broke all over the place Monday about EA's huge exclusivity deal with the NFL. And the shock wore off quickly then slowly transformed to worried speculation from analysts and reporters alike. ~ GameSpot [ more info ]

Chris Morris of CNN's Game Over has written an excellent article on the matter.

But, here's a fairly short and somewhat dirty version:
By purchasing exclusive rights to NFL team identifiers, stadiums, player likenesses, etc for the next five years, EA has pretty much garaunteed themselves a stranglehold over "official NFL presence" in all video games for a good long while. More than 5 years almost certainly.

Why? Because the single most significant expense in producing an NFL title is acquiring the "faces" of all the players. It's a multi-million dollar proposition. And that on top of the costs of purchasing licensing will likely discourage Sports Gaming outfits from trying to outbid EA. So, at the end of the 5 year deal, it's likely that EA will be able to dictate to the NFL how much they'll pay for the next five years. And the costs of the games will increase without question. Take Two forced EA drop their prices from $50 a game to match their bottom of the barrel $20 sticker price recently. And, I'll lay odds on the fact that the price point will see $50 again since EA will now effectively control the "official" market.

Now, Speculation over the price of the "purchase" ranges anywhere from $300 to $500 million. Don't mistake that pricetag as some sort of investment though. No, it was a move to squash competition, pure and simple. But, let's not demonize EA too quickly. They are a business after all and squashing the competition is part of their job. The regrettable part is that games like ESPN NFL Football, arguably a more exciting title than the Madden series, will disappear.

I personally am not a sports game type of gamer. But, I have to say that do not like the direction this seems to be taking. EA already owns licensing rights for NASCAR, PGA and whatever that major Soccer organization is. And, EA has been loose with their purse strings, buying up other game developers as well. It all kinda makes my "monopoly bell" start dinging.

So, all that being said, what does Today's Comic mean?

Well, represented in the panel is EA CEO Larry Probst dressed as HuggyBear the grand master pimp. And, the other guy is NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabeu as HuggyBears bitch. The situation seemed somehow fitting. You know, the hook voicing concerns, and the pimp quelling them with an outright lie, that somehow manages to sooth anyway.

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