Holding Madden for Later Release Date a Winning Move, Says EA Sports

Traditionally releasing the first or second Tuesday of August, Madden NFL 12 this year moved to the end of the month, Aug. 30. EA Sports insisted the schedule change was not because of this year's NFL lockout, but because it provided a more natural alignment of the game's launch to the league's opening week in September. That, plus the most expensive marking campaign in the game's history, helped record-setting sales, the game's top marketer told Industry Gamers.

[Update: Sept. 26, 8:22 a.m.] A previous version of this story, quoting a previous version of Industry Gamers interview with EA Sports' Anthony Stevenson, said EA Sports moved the release date for Madden NFL 12 because of the NFL lockout. An EA Sports representative told Kotaku that Stevenson was misquoted. Industry Gamers has since corrected its interview to remove that quote. Kotaku's original post follows.

"In years past, we would spend so much money in the beginning of August," Stevenson said. "The TV ads are talking to the mass fans, but they're not fully engaged in early August. So it made so much more sense to move the launch closer to the football season launch when fans were engaged.

What's more, this year was the most expensive marketing campaign in Madden history, Stevenson said.

"We did decide to spend even more this year than we ever have before, because of the NFL lockout," he said. "A large part of the increase in our spending was our partners stepping up and helping out. Madden is typically in the top 2 [best-selling games of the year]; we contended it would be top 10 if not top 5, even if there was no season. They [our retail partners] rely on Madden to be a big seller for them, so they would go with it."

The later release date and augmented marketing seemed to be worth it. Madden NFL 12's early sales clocked in 10 percent higher this year than they were after the same time last year, despite the weakest reviews for the series in the past five years.

Madden NFL 12 Post-Mortem [Industry Gamers]


You can contact Owen Good, the author of this post, at owen@kotaku.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.