The numbers are in, and they are not pretty: EA Sports' first entry into the world of mixed martial arts videogames, EA Sports MMA, has failed to make an impact on the market despite decent reviews and excellent word-of-mouth.
The game sold just 45,000 units in its release month, according to an article at GameIndustry.biz that references a report by analyst Cowen & Company. To put this in perspective, the original UFC Undisputed 2009 sold over 1 million copies across PS3 and Xbox 360 in its first month of release according to market research firm NPD , and even the rather lukewarmly received 2010 edition managed 413,000. The poor sales do not seem to be limited to North America, either, as Chart Track numbers for PAL territories show the game failing to crack the top 20 in its debut week.
Don't say we weren't warned: Cowen & Company released a report before October had even ended announcing that the game was "more or less DOA at retail, while UFC recently announced an extension of its license with THQ, likely putting an end to EA's efforts to expand into the mixed martial arts genre."
The poor sales cannot help but hammer home the sad truth that most of us have known for some time now: The UFC is MMA. To all but the most hardcore mixed martial arts fans, EA Sports MMA is simply another fighting game, but one without the flash and precision of arcade fighters like Street Fighter and Tekken; it is not difficult to imagine Joe Mainstream looking at the game in Wal-Mart and wondering who those two old guys on the cover are (or even what "MMA" is).
It had been rumored after the initial Cowen report that EA might abandon the MMA game, and sales this low, coupled with THQ's lock on the UFC license, can only bolster that impression. The videogame industry, like many during this period, is suffering badly; even reliable mega-sellers like Rock Band and Guitar Hero are falling flat at retail, with Rock Band's developer Harmonix being dropped by owner Viacom. Electronic Arts themselves lost over $200 million in the last quarter, and with wretched sales for EA Sports MMA showing once again that the UFC has a lock on the market, stockholders could not be blamed for wanting EA out of the MMA business.