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MAILBAG! Video Game Sales Projections, FCS Realignment. and more:

Taking your questions as I empty out my inbox after NACDA

Good morning-ish, and thanks for your continued support of Extra Points.

Sorry I’m a little late today… I got back from Las Vegas around 9:30 CT last night, and instead of finishing the newsletter like a true Serious Professional, I pretty much passed out as soon as I unpacked.

I’m going to spend the rest of this week trying to catch up on all the emails I missed while I was at NACDA and getting a few back-office type projects in order…so I figured today would be a good day to answer a few reader questions. I promise they’re not all about video game stuff, although yes, a few of them are about video game stuff.

Let’s start with this one, which I am going to paraphrase as an amalgamation of a ton of tweets and DMs I’ve gotten over the last few weeks.

A whole bunch of people on the internet asked:

Matt, you have pretty consistantly said that you do not expect CFB25 to outsell Madden, or even come particularly close, even though this is almost certainly the most anticipated sports video game in at least a decade, if not ever. You’ve also written that you are skeptical that additional, non-FB sports video games are coming, in part by citing previous sales data…but all of that data is old! How can you be so sure?

Fair questions!

So for one, when I say that a) EA Sports College Football 25 is not likely to out earn Madden 25 or even come particularly close and b) that the economics of college basketball, baseball, hockey etc. video games are challenging, in part because of their projected smaller audience sizes, I’m not just giving my own personal opinion. This is also what I’ve heard from several folks who work at EA Sports, who work in the licensing industry, and who work in AAA video game development, generally.

I think this is difficult for many people to believe because there are many video game players who believe that the core Madden video game product has declined in quality over the last few years, and that given a choice, consumers would happily switch to a different football product. If you dislike Madden, and all of your friends on Twitter/YouTube/Twitch/Reddit/Discord dislike Madden, and everybody is excited about college football, how on earth could Madden continue to be some unshakable behemoth?

I don’t have a strong opinion about whether the Madden video game is “bad” or not. I have an internet connection and working social media accounts, so I am deeply aware that many people don’t like it, but I’m also not really an NFL fan, and I haven’t regularly played the Madden games for several years (although I did test Madden 25 in Orlando, and I have played the two most recent titles a bit for work purposes). Maybe the internet is right, maybe they aren’t. I am not the right type of capital G Gamer to render a verdict.

But I do believe it’s pretty impossible to argue that the series is declining commercially. For all the complaining online, Madden 24 set new sales records and broke records for user engagement data. The series has been one of the most financially reliable franchises in all of video games, and not just because of Madden Ultimate Team (although of course that’s part of it). The NFL is also way, way, way more popular than college football, especially globally.

Here’s a quick reminder. Of the highest rated TV broadcasts of 2023, the top 14 were all NFL games. 19 of the top 20 were NFL games, and 28 of the top 30. Hell, 93 of the top 100 broadcasts were NFL related. College football had three, and none in the top 50. College football games with massive broadcast audiences typically do not attract as many viewers as a typical prime-time regular season NFL window.

I love college football. I grew up in a part of the country and graduated from a college where college football is something of a civic religion. It is a huge business, a massively popular institution, and its video game simulation will sell millions of copies and do very well.

But compared to the NFL, and especially outside the United States, it is a niche product with a niche audience. That doesn’t make it bad or inferior…but it is the reality.

Now, all that stuff I said about college football? Remember that basketball, hockey, baseball, soccer, etc. are tiny niches even compared to that.

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