Tiger Woods' hiatus from golf could hurt EA's golf video games

Struck by a personal scandal, Tiger Woods announced today he would take a break from professional golf. The announcement could take a toll on Electronic Arts‘ big Tiger Woods video game franchise.

Even before Woods’ announcement today, the pressure was building on EA to drop Woods, whose scandalous car crash and news of various affairs could take a big toll on his billion-dollar endorsement business.

Woods has served as the brand and cover athlete for EA’s PGA golf games for years. A week ago, EA issued a statement saying that it would stand by Woods. But if the games bearing Woods’ name fail to sell, you can bet that EA will find a new cover athlete. It will just be hard to find someone with the star power of Woods, who has had a remarkable career in professional golf.

Woods admitted to “infidelity” on his web site and wrote, “After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf. I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person.”

EA has been using Woods to brand its golf games for more than a decade and has launched 12 games based on the Tiger Woods PGA Tour brand game. Each year, it is one of the best-selling sports games on the market. Forbes has a story that lists Woods’ endorsements, from Gatorade to Nike.

In a statement tonight, EA Sports said, “We respect that this is a very difficult, and private, situation for Tiger and his family. At this time, the strategy for our Tiger Woods PGA TOUR business remains unchanged.”

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