Yesterday, EA Sports announced a $100 "Anniversary Edition" for Madden NFL 25 that will include a code offering buyers access to DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket—the channel that lets you watch any team outside of your local market—even if they aren't subscribers to the satellite TV service.
There's been a bit of confusion as to what all this means. Yes, DirecTV is doing the deal because it hopes football fans might ditch their cable provider and sign up with them. But even if you live in an area with DirecTV access, and choose not to subscribe, you may still use the code to watch Sunday Ticket games on your computer, tablet or other mobile device. You don't have to subscribe to DirectTV. (Update: You cannot use the code to access Sunday Ticket through the PS3's app. Lots of folks wondered about that one. Sorry.)
That comes from Anthony Stevenson, Madden's director of marketing, clearing up some confusion from the official announcement yesterday. "With this offer you don't need to be a directv subscriber," he said today via Twitter. "You can access Sunday Ticket digitally."
Of course, you can't watch Sunday Ticket on a TV (unless you rig it up as your PC or mobile's display, I suppose) so DirecTV wants you to so fall in love with the Red Zone channel, and not being shackled to the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars or a Parade of Homes infomercial if your team is blacked out, that you're willing to slap a dish on the side of your house. That's up to you.
The "anniversary edition" is $40 more than the regular one, of course, but speaking as someone who's gone without any kind of TV service other than Netflix and MLB.tv for the past year, that's decent value. Only a "limited number" of these editions will be sold so, obviously, it's a big preorder come on.
The official news release said simply that the "unique code" included in the box was "for fans unable to receive DirecTV service." The other bullet points implied those that did have access to DirectTV would have to sign up to take advantage of the code. "Offers like this are complex and have to be written a certain way," Stevenson explained later. "Believe me, I wish it was easier too."
Yesterday, Stevenson also fielded questions from ESPN about the notorious exclusive license EA Sports has to make NFL video games. “We’re not able to comment on negotiations, but the NFL continues to be an amazing partner for us," he said. "Our relationship is stronger than it has ever been, I’ll say that, but I can’t comment on contracts or rights.” That sounds like a renewal is imminent to me, not that the NFL really has much of an option at this point.
Also, regarding the unusual name for this year's edition—Madden NFL 25, which refers to the 25th anniversary edition of the game, not the year 2025. "Just because we’re Madden NFL 25 this year doesn’t mean that we have to be Madden NFL 26 next year or even Madden NFL 15," he said. More ammo for the theory that EA Sports will shift its flagship titles to a downloadable subscription model—obviating the need for annual releases or titles that describe them—once the next console generation arrives.