Tiger Woods and EA Sports' video game partnership has drawn to a close after a decade and a half, EA revealed today. There will be no more Tiger Woods PGA Tour games.
"EA SPORTS and Tiger Woods have also made a mutual decision to end our partnership, which includes Tiger's named PGA TOUR golf game," EA said. We’ve always been big fans of Tiger and we wish him continued success in all his future endeavors."
There have been 16 Tiger Woods PGA Tour games since Woods and EA partnered up in the mid-nineties. The partnership endured Woods' infidelity scandal in 2009 and his subsequent hiatus from golf. Many sponsors distanced themselves from the golfer during this period but EA was conspicuously supportive of their cover athlete.
"Our relationship with Tiger has always been rooted in golf. We didn’t form a relationship with him so that he could act as an arm’s length endorser," said Peter Moore, then the president of EA Sports, back in 2010. "Far from it. We chose to partner with Tiger in 1997 because we saw him as the world’s best, most talented and exciting golfer. We struck that partnership with the assumption that he would remain near or at the top of his sport for years to come."
"By his own admission, he’s made some mistakes off the course. But regardless of what’s happening in his personal life, and regardless of his decision to take a personal leave from the sport, Tiger Woods is still one of the greatest athletes in history."
EA didn't explain the reasons for ending the partnership today. Maybe they simply felt putting his name on their games wasn't worth the licensing fees anymore. Though he's still the most recognizable golfer in the world, he's far from the unstoppable behemoth he once was. Perhaps EA felt that, with a new CEO at their helm and a new generation of gaming on the way, now was the time to make a clean break with Woods. It did seem like they were slowly phasing him over the past few years by partnering him with other athletes on the game covers.
ESPN reports that Woods' agent is currently negotiating with another company regarding the golfer's video game rights. They don't mention the name of said company but it seems likely that it's 2K Sports, EA's main competition in that genre. EA's had a stranglehold over golf games for years but Tiger's name could give 2K the foothold they need to challenge their reign.
EA isn't done with golf games, either. They still have an exclusive agreement to create PGA Tour games. You just won't see Tiger Woods on the cover or in the games, though.
"EA SPORTS golf fans have always loved authentic courses and players, but they've also asked for more choice and customization in how and where they play. We're working on a new approach to deliver the best golf experience to our fans — we think you'll love it, and so we’re excited to share the first screenshot of our next generation golf game currently in development."