EA Missed Opportunity with Rory McIlroy

Posted June 20th, 2011 at 2:40 pm

During E3 it was made clear that EA Sports intends to continue their relationship with Tiger Woods for at least one more year. Sales of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters were up and the name has undoubtedly become synonymous with the video game from a branding standpoint. The company may have made a misstep however by not fully transitioning to Rory McIlroy when they had the chance.

McIlroy dominated the U.S. Open by setting a course record -16 score over the weekend. The young (he’s only 22) Irish golfer is now being compared to Tiger Woods at the same age as someone who could carry interest in the sport going forward. The story is made all the better by the way he responded after a tragic final round at The Masters that had some questioning if he would ever be able to bounce back from.

After the image of Tiger Woods took a huge hit due to his transgressions EA made the move of having him share the cover of Tiger 11 with McIlroy. The official explanation was that it was planned all along and was meant to represent the addition of the Ryder Cup but there was obviously more to it than that as it was just the start of diminishing Woods’ role. With Tiger 12 he was practically absent from the cover as The Masters took center stage. Sales of Tiger 11 plunged dramatically due to the controversy around Woods but then recovered with Tiger 12 thanks in large part to The Masters and better word of mouth.

Unfortunately for EA they didn’t continue to push McIlroy because they would have been in a great position now. Woods has been unable to compete at a high level ever since things started unraveling in his personal life and injuries are even keeping him off the course as was the case with the U.S. Open. He has fallen all the way to being ranked 15th in the world with no signs of a career re-birth being around the bend.

McIlroy may not have had the huge name recognition until now but having The Masters to shield that for one year would have allowed the company to build him up as the new frontman. They would have been able to fully capitalize on his new found stardom now. EA could potentially still make a change in the future, but the initial impact of losing the Tiger name would make it more difficult to pull the trigger on now that the series has stabilized.

  • Keith.

    Not sure why you say sales for TW12 are up.

    According to vgchartz, TW12 sales are way down for PS3 and WII, and only up slightly for 360.


    • You do know VGChartz are not real numbers right? It sucks that NPD stopped releasing the numbers publicly, and obviously EA is spinning the sales results to an extent, but as a public company they can’t lie about the numbers being up. They were SO LOW for T11 that it would be unreasonable to think they wouldn’t be up this year regardless. 

  • Anonymous

    While this is true, TV ratings still climb whenever Tiger is playing. He still draws more eyes than any other golfer. 

    If TW never recovers, I think EA will eventually rebrand the Tiger Woods series into a more generic ‘PGA Tour’ series once again and use a new cover athlete each year, like Madden and NCAA.

  • Anonymous

    Dude wins one tournament, and he is supposed to get a video game cover?

    LOL, white people want their sport back.  Don’t worry Tiger’s streak is done it’s a wrap for him. Jack ‘s record is safe.  tiger went out like a sucker!!!

    • lol stop being racist

      • Anonymous

        Black people cannot be racist because white people invented racism. Blacks are simply reacting to the wicked hate your ancestors created. Thank God they are burning in hell along with your evil founding Fathers. May you blue -eyed inferior devils join them soon.

        • Anonymous

          You sir are a jackass

        • GeTMaD

          zzzzzz write more about your ignorance and fables.

        • Smsixx

          “Racism is the belief that there are inherent differences in people’s traits and capacities that are entirely due to their race. Moreover, racism is the practice of the different treatment of certain a group or groups, which is then justified by recourse to racial stereotyping or pseudo-science.”

          -Guess what Einstein…when you say “white people invented racism” and “blacks are reacting to the wicked hate your ancestors created” YOU ARE BEING RACIST LOL! You ignorant dumbass.

          Here are some facts for you that are usually taught in the 9th grade
          —-Every white man was not a slave owner…only the rich upper class had enough money to purchase slaves. So not every white man had an ancestor who “owned slaves” as a matter of fact it would be more difficult to find a white person who had an ancestor that did.

          —There were in fact 19th century blacks who were not slaves…look it up…you could very well be the descendent of a black family who encountered no slavery what so ever.

          -White men were slaves as well…the British and French loved to take there useless slaves and vicous criminals to a huge island and maroon them to die in the heat. We now know this place as Australia.

          Next time try stop your Jeremiah Wright rants and actually look up some facts.

          • Cannon Man

            You don’t have to be the descendant of slaves to be a victim of racism, or the descendant of slave owners to be a racist. I’m not even sure how slavery became part of the conversation but if you really read your history the creation of race and race science, which justifies racism, was created by Europeans and European “scientist”. After slavery Jim Crow laws (separate schools, bathrooms, etc.) were put in place and after the Civil Right Movement laws have been passed that allowed more and more Black people to systematically be incarcerated despite the fact that crime rates have remained the same since 1980’s. A lot of people still believe that race is a determining factor in a persons intelligence, aptitude to criminal deviance, and even their worth as a human being. I’m not saying all white people are racist (I don’t believe that for a second) I’m just stating facts.

            Like other posters have said without Tiger the game of Golf doesn’t bring in anywhere near the number of viewers and money that it does when Tiger is playing. EA is one of the few companies that stood by Tiger after his scandal and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because they felt bad for the guy. EA knows that “Tiger Woods Golf,” like “Madden NFL Football,” is a brand and that they will make more money if they keep the brand in tact. I’m all for McElroy being on the cover, he’s playing better golf than Tiger but EA knows if it were to transition away from the “Tiger Woods Golf” brand it would be making a huge mistake.

        • cody

          Your just a retard just becus you say white ppl invented racism doesn’t mean blacp ppl can’t be racist its racist for you to say black ppl can’t be racist only whites

      • Anonymous

        I wasn’t being racist that was just funny.

    • Skihawks

      Most ignorant and racist statement I have read. What is wrong with people.

      • Anonymous

        Where were you when the racist statements were being hurled at the SDOT guy.

        Above that, please explain to me how my statement was racist?  Did I disparage white people for being good at golf and essentially owning the sport?  Please, I’m curious to know.

        • Skihawks

          My comment is based on the fact that your statement is perceived that white people want Tiger to falter because he is black. Tiger is an outstanding athlete and is the only reason anyone watches golf. I hope he comes back and challenges the record.

          • Anonymous

            I deliberately put “LOL” in front of my comment to show that was said in jest.  If someone said “Black people are pissed that Eminem is running the rap game” I would laugh at that too.  I assure you I am no racist

          • Skihawks


          • Skihawks


    • Ryan

      you must be african-american

      • Anonymous

        You must be from the Caucus Mountains . White ape

        • Anonymous

          Don’t fall for this people.  He is a white guy attempting to incite a messageboard. Race baiter

      • Anonymous

        Nope I’m black

    • Anonymous

      That is very ignorant, what you said. Tiger isn’t even black FYI.

      • Tiger is half black half asian

        • Anonymous

          I think it’s more like a quarter black, but yeah he is parft

  • Skihawks

    I think people overstate the issue. It doesn’t matter whst the game is named or who is on the cover. The only thing that matters is what is inside the cover.

    This year’s game focused on The Masters which is what golf fans have bern yearning for. Tiger was barely visible on the cover.

    The only people who really benefit from the cover is the athlete not the publisher. I actually applaud EA for not selling out Tiger who has already been through enough. I am surecat some point that EA will make a change but supporting Tiger makes EA look better in my eyes.

  • As others have said, eventually the game will turn into a more standard PGA Golf by EA. Tiger has taken plenty of hits already. This issue has been pounded to death at any chance given.  EA could smell like a rose if he comes back strong. Let’s move on to discussing gameplay or ways to improve the game instead of continuously preaching the EA should dump Tiger. They will do that in their own time. 

    • Skihawks

      Well said. I actually enjoyed this most recent version more than any other TW game. What hurt the game was the season mode includung courses that had to be purchased through DLC.

      Outside of that I thought the gameplay was solid and the maligned caddy was a great addition. Not to mention the amped presentation and Jim Nance.

  • McIlroy is wack, you forgot to mention that. Tiger is the only golfer with any swag

    • GeTMaD

      In the golfing world yes but Tiger has less swag than a backed up toilet.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah. All the other golfers seem to have no personality.

  • when he wins 12 more majors then ask the question again..how many time has someone won a major a then went away….tap the brakes

  • Jim316

    Rory is no even a member of the PGA, he turned them down and only plays a few events in America during the year as an invitaion from sponsors. He prefers to play in Europe and Asia, so it would not make sense to put him soley on the cover since most sales of the game is in America……

  • Justin

    PastaPadre, prisoner of the moment.  Shocking!  Stop with the knee-jerking.  There is still a very real possibility that Tiger will surpass Nicklaus’ major record.  After his 19th major victory, you would write something like, “EA Sports missed the boat by not having Woods represent the company on his way to golf history.”  But carry on.

  • MiguelOhara2099

    Tiger is, and will continue to be the biggest star in golf for the forseeable future. When Tiger doesn’t play, viewership goes south, that didn’t change this weekend. And let’s be honest, Tiger does something Rory can NEVER do, which is bring in a different demographic to the sport. EA didn’t miss any opportunity because Rory will never top Tigers world appeal, regardless if the kid eventually tops him, which is still a colossal IF.

  • HAL9100

    EA has already proven that a known brand is more important than a relevant name.  Madden has become synonymous with video game football.  Who John Madden is or was has become irrelevant.  Mcllroy may become the next big name in golf but why throw all the branding they’ve built with Tiger Woods?  It might seem odd at first but I don’t see why they couldn’t have Mcllroy solely on the cover of Tiger 13 or w/e and then continue on like they do on Madden.

    • Smsixx

      Not to mention that Maddens role in the game (not just the cover) has dwindled year by year as well. He once said he was offered “a large chunk of stock in EA sports”in the early 90’s and turned it down…he called it “the worst business decision I ever made in my life”. Im sure Madden gets a good chunk of change still…but not as much as it could have been.

  • knowledgeable golfer

    tiger woods = 71 wins on tour
    Rory = 3 wins on tour

    God damn pasta do some research before you write something that is so far off base you get picked off.

  • I don’t think Rory can carry interest in the sport by himself for very long. Tiger Woods isn’t only an American, he’s an African Amercian, and that is one of the reasons why Tiger has more appeal than all other golfers. And the fact that alot of people think the man’s first name is Tiger

  • Anonymous

    lol, one tourney win kid is no where near the same level is Tiger Woods. Im willing to bet this bum will not be the next great

    • Knobdrag

      You gotta be kidding me Pasta.  Saying EA made a “misstep”?!?!?  Quick, Pasta go ahead and tell us now who’s going to win the British Open and PGA Championship so EA can avoid making another misstep.

      Like others have said, Tiger Woods isn’t just the most recognizable golfer in the world, he’s also the most recognizable athlete and probably one of the top 10 recognizable humans.  That’s cash money for branding whether he’s winning tourneys, playing golf, or banging a new set of hoes.

      Despite the great win and warm fuzz at the moment, McIlroy still stands as a major unknown in the world and doesn’t hold a canlde to Woods.  If you did a cover test with Rory on one cover and Woods on another, the Woods cover would outsell Rory’s by 100 to 1 based on recognition.

      You really failed this one Pasta, g’day.

  • Anonymous

    Who watched Rory yesterday? NOBODY.

    • I did. I watched him all 4 days. No, that’s not true. I watch for the golf, not for a single person. Tiger dominated a relatively weak era. Golf will be better off with a strong field than with one dominant player. 

      Tiger, Rory, nor anyone else will break the major record with the field as strong as it looks to be for the next 5-10 years. 

      • Weak era? really? How about a weak sport in general. Don’t downplay Tigers greatness with that BS statement. He kept a relatively weak ass sport visible for a long time and he still isn’t done I believe.

  • Damn, people turning on tiger already? Crazy. I hope he gets healthy, get his mind right and come back and smash these guys again. I guess they forgot how much money he has made them over the years. Tsk Tsk…

  • LOLPadre

    Oh my gosh.  Yes, lets put the guy who has only one one tournament on the European Tour in three seasons.  I bet you were were the same guy who thought Michelle Wie was going to be great.  They should consider Annika Sorenstam on the cover before they even considered Rory.

  • LOLPadre

    I just scanned the hidden archives of Pasta Padre titled, “Things I wrote and never posted.”

    British Open – 1999  Late in the 4th round.

    During E3 it was made clear that Tiger Woods plans to stick with EA Sports for at least one more year. Sales of Tiger 1999 were down and the controversy of the video, “The Spirit of Christmas.” which was snuck in by a rouge employee on the disc, lead to a recall of the PlayStation game.


    The clean living bachelor has taken criticism of a game gracing his namesake and including profanity and other mature rated themes. Thus, leaving many American parents to question purchasing TW 2000 and asking, “What would Brian Boitano do?” 

    EA may have made a misstep however by not fully transitioning to Jean Van de Velde when they had the chance. With fears of sales plummeting in the US, EA has to look outside the box and on the other side of the pond. The impact of a European player on the cover will bring sales of the game overseas from the hundreds to the thousands and at least a 100 to 150 unit gain in France alone.

    Van de Velde is on the 18th tee, victory is a given and the obvious failure is of EA Sports not picking this rising superstar who emerged from such humble beginnings to become the first French person to win the tournament since 1907…

  • Moneymayweather

    yeah yeah.

  • Sirgoogoo

    what? people don’t watch golf. they watch tiger.

  • Jwade3247

    Damn,can the guy win more than one major before we stat comparing him to Tiger Woods?

  • Gamerzz

    Pasta should stick to games and lave marketing to adults. 

    Especially when the last game had MASTERS on it and didnt need either guy. And if EA wants to push Rory for “Tiger” 13 they still have that opportunity. He is still in the game anyway. Just throw him on some ads. 

    And boom – nothing missed.

  • Gamerzz

    Pasta should stick to games and lave marketing to adults. 

    Especially when the last game had MASTERS on it and didnt need either guy. And if EA wants to push Rory for “Tiger” 13 they still have that opportunity. He is still in the game anyway. Just throw him on some ads. 

    And boom – nothing missed.

  • Gamerzz

    Oh look….an adult article about how EA is in great shape: (linked)


  • Gamerzz

    You should probably also mention that this years US Open 4th round was down 35% in TV ratings vs. last year. 

    But again….that’s an adult point.

  • Shadi

    I think it’s too in the moment. Sure Mcilroy is doing good and probably has a bright future but, Tiger Woods is a legend. No matter what may have happened he is still an all time great in his sport and I think it’s fine using him. If there gonna ride Mcilroy when he’s hot they might as well not have a permanent cover boy and just call it “EA Golf” and have a top 5 golfer to be on the cover. Similar to how the other sports titles operates when it comes to cover of game.

  • This isn’t the first PP article where he just spouts out a “opinion” that lacks any merit in a way to make it seem foolish for someone to disagree with him.

    NBA 2K11 had a HUGE year, and it wasn’t because of the lack of competition, it wasn’t because the vastly improved the game(they didn’t some minor improvements here and there) it was because they had the guy most synonymous with the sport on the Cover.

    And now PP is saying EA a billion dollar company made a mistake by not ditching Tiger and going for Rory on the cover on their game. RIDICULOUS