It's a big day for Electronic Arts, and a big day for Madden fans. Tonight at midnight Madden NFL 09 goes on sale, the 20th anniversary of the longest-running franchise in sports video games.
Electronic Arts and Microsoft's XBox 360 are celebrating with a big party in the Rose Bowl, from where I'm reporting today. Big bands, including Good Charlotte, will play, and at 9 pm eastern, the first game will be sold at a popup Wal-Mart store here in the bowl.
Madden is Electronic Arts' biggest franchise in North America, some 70 million units of the game sold since its launch 20 years ago.
And Madden isn't just big business for EA, Microsoft's XBox 360 also cashes in on the franchise. Over four million Madden games for the XBox 360 have sold since the console's launch in 2005. I spoke with John Rodman, XBox 360's Senior Product manager who says Madden is so popular with football fans, it drives sales of the video game consoles every year.
EA has been in the spotlight with its 2 billion dollar bid for rival Take-Two Interactive pending, but now the focus is shifting to how the Madden franchise holds up. Madden 09's cover boy is Brett Favre, wearing his old Green Bay Packers uniform. His recent and unexpected move to the New York Jets has put him in the spotlight, but it's interrupted EA's marketing blitz.
The company won't re-issue the game, but they are offering players free downloads of Favre in his Jets gear so players can play the game with an up-to-date Favre. You can even reprint the game's cover with Favre in his Jets jersey. Will shoppers looking for the latest Madden game be confused by a cover that looks old? We'll see.
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