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Tiger Woods reportedly won’t even be in the next golf video game from EA Sports


(image courtesy of Devil Ball Golf)

It was announced on Monday by EA Sports that the video game giant would be parting ways with Tiger Woods, ending a 15-year partnership. During the era that EA Sports’ “Tiger Woods PGA Tour” franchise dominated the video game market, the titles reportedly brought in $771 million.

Referring to it as a “mutual decision,” Daryl Holt, EA Sports’ vice president and general manager, said in a statement, “We’ve always been big fans of Tiger and we wish him continued success in all his future endeavors.”

Tiger’s agent, Mark Steinberg, echoed those sentiments.

“We had an incredible run,” he said. “Outside of [John] Madden, you would be hard pressed to find a sports figure that meant as much to a video game company as Tiger meant to EA. But times are changing and EA had to re-evaluate the partnership, and frankly so did we.”

That is all well and good. Business and marketing arrangements fall by the wayside all the time. But what’s most interesting about these developments is that it appears that not only will the game not bear Tiger’s name or his image on the cover, the greatest golfer of this generation may not even be in the game at all.

ESPN’s Darren Rovell provides the inside scoop, courtesy of his Twitter account:

That’s pretty crazy when you think about it. But it is worth noting that EA Sports routinely only licenses the likenesses of about 20 golfers for each incarnation of the game, according to Jay Busbee of Devil Ball Golf, where other golfers are used only according to “fair use” standards, where the players are mentioned or alluded to but are never actually seen, nor can they be played.

Still, how strange will it be after all these years not to see Tiger? Weird stuff.

In the end, it was an  incredible run, as Tiger’s agent put it. But with next-gen video games becoming more and more expensive and time-consuming, one has to wonder if an EA Sports golf video game franchise can survive without Tiger Woods. Odds are it won’t, especially in light of the reporting by Rovell that states Tiger and company may pursue other avenues in order to get Woods in a different golf video game (via Eye on Golf):

“Steinberg said he’s in negotiations with another company regarding Woods’ video game rights. EA noted it will continue to use the PGA Tour name on the game.”

That doesn’t bode well for EA Sports. If Tiger’s not “in the game,” is it still going to be a marketable game?