(Forget the fighters, how far can you go without the rights to the Octagon girls?)
Last week we mentioned that the video game barons at EA Sports were planning on putting out their own MMA game in 2010 to rival THQ’s “UFC Undisputed” and we wondered out loud, just who the hell did they think they could put in this thing? Turns out they’ve thought of that. MMA Payout pointed us to this article in the Financial Times Tech Blog where EA’s chief executive, John Riccitiello claims that there are plenty of fighters to choose from because “[m]ost of the athletes in mixed martial arts are unaffiliated.”
When you compare the UFC’s overall roster with every pro fighter competing at every level, that’s obviously true. But does that mean you can really go head-to-head with “Undisputed” by tapping the relatively few big names not in the UFC (your Fedors, your Barnetts, your Jose Cansecos) and combining them with the Jason Guidas and "Crazy Horse" Bennetts of the fighting world? Sounds like EA thinks so:
“Harking back to 1999, we didn’t have an NFL licence and Acclaim did and we outsold them with a players’ licence, and we quickly got an NFL licence after that. [THQ chief executive] Brian [Farrell]’s UFC game is already doing really well, but we feel that frankly there’s room for competition and we’re not afraid of it.”
Yeah, sounds like the dudes at EA are the types who will never let you forget that they managed to start up the absurdly popular Madden football series without having an NFL license. Kind of like your friend who was a state champion wrestler in high school: every time he gets four beers in him, you’re going to hear all about it just before he shoots for a double-leg on you.
THQ’s Farrell pointed out that the UFC is the only brand worth controlling in the MMA video game sphere, saying, “We have the league, we have all the fighters, so EA seems a little late to the party.”
But on EA’s MMA game website and forums there’s already talk of the many unaffiliated fighters who could potentially turn up in a non-UFC game. Of course there are guys like Shinya Aoki, Nick Diaz, “Mach” Sakurai, etc. But there’s also some potential with the legends of the early days like Bas Rutten, Don Frye, Kazushi Sakuraba, and so on.
The question is, would that be enough to get you to buy a non-UFC MMA video game, or does the power of the UFC brand, as well as the fighters they already have the rights to, outweigh all those other considerations?