Tiger Woods, EA Sports end 15-year partnership

Lintao Zhang

EA Sports' yearly iteration of their PGA Tour game will no longer carry Tiger Woods in its name, on its cover or even count him among its roster of pro golfers after the two sides ended a 15-year partnership.

Tiger Woods will no longer grace the title, cover art or appear in the Tiger Woods PGA Tour video game series from Electronic Arts, according to ESPN.com. Woods, the biggest name in golf today, and EA, one of the largest publishers and developers in gaming today, elected not to renew their contract that has spanned 15 years and 16 major title releases.

The report calls the move a "mutual decision," per Daryl Holt, vice president and general manager at EA. Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, said that the latest contract had expired, and that both sides had to "re-evaluate the partnership." He also said that he is in negotiations with another company regarding Woods' video game rights.

Unlike leagues for team sports such as the NFL and the NBA, individual golfers hold their rights and can decide whether or not to appear in any given game. EA will continue to develop golf games under the PGA Tour moniker, but Woods will not even appear in the game at this point. One has to wonder if that will affect sales at all.

It was always thought that EA would move away form using Woods' name at some point, but the news that Woods won't appear in the game at all and that they are exploring other video game-related options is a bit surprising. The game was trending away from Woods as the front man in recent iterations, focusing on Augusta National and created golfers in the wake of Woods' 2009 controversy and subsequent struggles. He also shared the cover with players like Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Arnold Palmer since then.

There will not be a PGA Tour game for 2014, as EA elected to take a year off from the franchise back in April, despite the most recent iteration being well-received. The next game will carry the PGA Tour and the 2016 label, but as to whether or not they use another golfer or come up with some other naming scheme, nobody knows.

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