After a start to the year that saw dramatic declines in sales with UFC Undisputed 2010 and Tiger Woods 11, NCAA Football 11 was able to buck the trend by growing by 8%. Now the official numbers from NPD have arrived for Madden 11 and tell a similar tale. Overall sales for the game rose 12% year-over-year.
The 360 version actually fell slightly dropping 7K to 921K. However the PS3 has almost completely closed the gap by jumping to 893K. That is a rise of 26% there and accounts for the entirety of the sales increase for Madden 11. Total sales of 1.814 million in August for Madden 11 compares favorably to the 1.593 of Madden 10 and 1.643 of Madden 09.
It was the same thing with NCAA Football 11 receiving its boost from the PS3. No surprise in either case, as EA Sports marketed the games heavily with the prominent PS3 packaging. Despite the 360 consistently outselling the PS3 it seems to be picking up more of the sports market as more PS2 converts make their way over. The 360 side has remained stagnant on most yearly sports games over the past few years.
There are several factors that seem to have contributed to the rise in sales. The first that has to be considered is the effect of Madden 10. That game had strong word of mouth and seemed to reestablish the series’ credibility. In large part sales of yearly sports titles are indictments on the previous release or confidence towards a series.
Madden 11 also had some very influential pre-order deals. Walmart offered a $20 gift card, Amazon offered $20 off a future game purchase, and Gamestop provided 20K coins ($6.67 value). Also there is the “Online Pass” which pressures people into buying new rather than used with online play access. Post-release there were sales to account for that reduced initial cost in order to draw more consumers in. Essentially the game was never “full price” and that makes for a tempting purchase considering how much value Madden traditionally provides. The game also had a very strong marketing campaign that connected the emotion of the game with the upcoming NFL season.
Though reviews were actually down from Madden 10 and word of mouth seems weaker this year than last, it was a strong package to present including the way in which it would be attractive to the more casual gamers. There is no evidence though that actually succeeded as the reason for higher sales, and in turn it may have alienated some long time fans of the series. We probably won’t see whether that resulted in long term damage until next year, though if sales are weaker through the holidays that would be a sign (sales rose in those months last year). This year it has to be considered that a larger group of consumers that would have traditionally waited may have rushed out for it because of the deals and “Online Pass” situation.
EA is likely very pleased with the first month’s sales rising in a time where the gaming market has been down, when they probably would’ve been alright with a slight drop. The company is raking in additional revenue through initiatives such as the “Online Pass” mentioned earlier, Madden Ultimate Team mode, and various boosts and DLC.