'EA Sports UFC' on Xbox One: Can It Do for UFC What 'Madden' Did for NFL?

McKinley NobleCorrespondent IMay 21, 2013

Photo Credit: Getty Images
Photo Credit: Getty Images

After several months of rumors, reports and hype, the Xbox One console has finally been revealed to the public, along with a list of games for its debut.

For MMA fans, of course, the most interesting title is none other than EA Sports UFC.

It's now been officially confirmed for the Xbox One and will most likely be announced later for the PlayStation 4 at E3 2013.

To put it mildly, this is huge for the world's largest MMA promotion.


EA Sports Ignite

As EA Sports' Andrew Wilson detailed on Tuesday during Microsoft's Xbox event at its Seattle headquarters, EA Sports UFC is part of the developer/publisher's new "EA Sports Ignite" game engine, which will also power the tech behind FIFA 14Madden NFL 25 and NBA Live 14.

That's already a good look for the UFC, since EA has put it on the same pedestal as its top-selling franchises.

Back in the era of the UFC Undisputed series from publisher THQ, a move of UFC's video game franchise to Electronic Arts would've been unthinkable due to a previous dust-up between the two companies, but cooler heads prevailed in the end.

Now, with EA Sports UFC confirmed for Microsoft's next-generation console, the real question is how (and if) it can expand the UFC brand further than it's already reached.

Make no mistake, the move to EA was the best-case scenario for the UFC.

Not only is EA still one of the biggest video game publishers in the market, but its pedigree with EA Sports makes it the best possible candidate to improve upon the UFC Undisputed formula.


It's All in the Marketing

But that's just scratching the surface.

What may be most important is the marketing that EA can provide for EA Sports UFC—especially with the combined crossover it'll likely see from Fox, FX, Fuel TV and Fox Sports.

In the lead-up to the release of EA Sports UFC, you can count on seeing an exhaustive amount of TV ads, billboards and other promotional materials hyping up the game, in addition to a great deal of branding on pay-per-view events.

To sum it up, you'll see the game everywhere.

That kind of public push is an area where EA shines best, something that's been more than proven with the ad campaigns behind games like Mass Effect 3, Dead Space 3 and, of course, the blockbuster Battlefield series.


Millions and Millions

But after all the marketing and hype is over, the real success of EA Sports UFC will boil down to two things: review scores and sales.

Although UFC Undisputed 2009 surprised many outlets with its runaway success, EA Sports UFC will have be more than a sleeper hit to justify itself as the "Madden" of MMA games.

But no matter how highly the game is rated by the gaming press, it has to outdo the UFC Undisputed franchise by a comfortable margin.

For reference, here's how the UFC Undisputed series sold on PS3 and Xbox 360 (via VG Chartz):

  • UFC 2009 Undisputed (X360) -- 2.01 Million
  • UFC 2009 Undisputed (PS3) -- 1.71M
  • UFC Undisputed 2010 (X360) -- 1.26M
  • UFC Undisputed 2010 (PS3) -- 1.33M
  • UFC Undisputed 3 (X360) -- 0.71M
  • UFC Undisputed 3 (PS3) -- 0.77M

Despite running for a good three installments with evolving gameplay, UFC Undisputed still peaked with the first title at 3.72 million units sold between the Xbox 360 and PS3.

So with the wider spread and influence of EA Sports (combined with the UFC on Fox push), one would expect EA Sports UFC to sell at least 4 million copies between the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One—although EA brass will assuredly be expecting a minimum yield of 5 million copies sold for a respectable return on its investment.


Final Thoughts

It's arguable that the UFC's growth in 2009 and 2010 was partially aided by the mass appeal of UFC 2009 Undisputed, and if EA Sports plays its cards right, the same push can happen with EA Sports UFC.

Despite the demise of THQ and the rise of new MMA games from other developers, there's no competitor poised to challenge EA Sports' new UFC title. There couldn't be a more favorable situation for the UFC to make a whole new wave of fans. Now we just have to see if lightning strikes twice.


McKinley Noble is an MMA conspiracy theorist. His work has appeared in NVisionPC World, Macworld, GamePro, 1UP, MMA Mania and The L.A. Times.