But the team at EA’s Chertsey office had reason to eek out a few more hours of festive cheer, thanks to the sweetest of late Yuletide gifts: ChartTrack’s confirmation that EA titles had officially been number one in the All Formats chart for over half of 2006.
Unsurprisingly, holding the top charts spot for 27 weeks of the year has left EA VP and UK country manager Keith Ramsdale full of praise for his workforce. “We’re just thrilled by the achievement,” he says. “The some 6,500 people we have in studios continue to innovate on some of the best-loved franchises in the industry, as well as continuing to devise and deliver compelling new IP.
“The UK publishing team worked smarter than ever last year, which has meant our games have continued to enjoy the chart positions that they deserve and continued their growth in popularity and critical acclaim from those that play them.”
Need For Speed Carbon and Most Wanted, The Sims 2: Pets, The Godfather and new IP Black all played their part in EA’s blistering success in 2006. But one franchise in particular hit the back of the net like never before.
“The Christmas No.1 spot for FIFA 07 marked a crowning moment for the whole franchise this year,” says Ramsdale. “If you look at the year as a whole across FIFA 07, FIFA Street 2 and 2006 FIFA World Cup you'll find our football titles topped the charts for 17 weeks – a third of the year in their own right.
“That shows just how dominant we are in the football market and how our studios have done a tremendous job evolving and innovating with all of our football games.” As well as being quick to thank his own staff and studios, Ramsdale is also keen to show gratitude to the big platform holders – and underline EA’s commitment to all three.
“A major high point over Christmas was the amount of column inches, airtime and word of mouth this industry enjoyed,” he says. “Suddenly we’re engaging in conversation about gaming with people you’d just never expect. The innovation of Wii has really captured imagination and sparked genuine mass interest across a broad demographic.
“Add to that a real anticipation for PS3, and with Xbox 360 already establishing a good installed base, 2007 looks like an exciting year, with the genuine chance for this industry to unlock its true potential.”