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Madden '06 breaks first-week sales records

Vladimir Cole

maddenIn a report released to EA investors yesterday, Electronic Arts announced record sales of the 16th annual installment of the Madden football game franchise. According to EA, 1.7 million copies of the game sold in the first week of the game's launch (that beats Madden '05 sales of 1.35 million during its first week).

The blog GamePolitics has a less rosy take on these sales figures, choosing instead to calculate how much more gamers will end up paying as a result of exclusivity agreements that Electronic Arts worked out with the NFL. Well, plenty's been said about EA and football, but what about the NFL? Are they culpable?

Here's what nobody's paying attention to: the NFL makes more money when they offer exclusive deals because companies are forced into bidding wars for hot properties. It's the same old trick that the major sports associations have been using for years to get cable companies to fork out ever-increasing amounts of cash for content. EA reportedly paid $300 million for the rights to produce games using NFL licenses for five years, a price that at least one analyst thinks is nuts.

So let's summarize. EA pays too much for a license, forcing them to require fans to pay too much for the game. Meanwhile, the NFL (who was paid too much) laughs all the way to the bank. Sounds about right.

For background, view previous Joystiq coverage of the Madden franchise here.

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