Has Tiger been damaged for good?

Though EA has stood firm by Tiger Woods as the sordid scandal surrounding his personal life has unravelled in the media, one analyst has claimed that the golf star’s dented image has damaged the viability of EA’s console series.

June sales of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 in the US tracked at 68 per cent down compared to the performance of last year’s title. The Wii version in particular suffered a huge decline, with sales running at 86 per cent lass than last year – though Tiger Woods 10 was one of the first titles to ship with the MotionPlus controller.

We are concerned that Woods’ scandal woes may have permanently damaged the sales potential of what we believe to be EA’s third most important sports franchise behind Madden and FIFA,” Cowan & Company analyst Doug Creutz told investors.

However, the analyst may be ignoring two other factors that could have contributed to the decline.

Firstly, the free-to-play Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online has proved a big success for EA. Whether a PC title is capable of denting sales of console game is a matter of opinion, but it’s not hard to believe that free is a very exciting proposition compared to $59.99.

In addition, Tiger Woods 11 was the first EA Sports title to include the controversial Online Pass – a system that includes a one-use code for online access. The result is that resale value of the game is lessened as pre-owned buyers must pay EA an additional fee to play against others over PSN and XBL.

Some have speculated that a similar code-scheme used with THQ’s UFC 2010 Undisputed has lead to lower than expected sales of that title. Whether or not the wider market would pay too much attention to such is hard to tell. Sales of such games over the rest of the year will hopefully paint a more solid picture.

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