Ah, the Fall is coming. How do I know? Madden Day, of course.
The clever marketing folks at EA (Electronic Arts) have pushed the idea of the Madden Football release as "Happy Madden Day". Back in the day of rolling with my homies and gang banging, I would buy each year's new Madden and marvel at the leaps in technology. Remember, I grew up with Pong and thought Asteroids was amazing - and don't get me started with that Knock Out and Dragon's Lair.
Anywho, after being completely underwhelmed with the game improvements over the last 3 years, I have wisely started renting. Thus, this Madden Day I rented the Donovan McNabb 06 edition. Again, some changes but nothing to justify $50.
For those who don't follow the business side of these games (you may, for example, have a social life), this game is the cornerstone for much of the multi-billion dollar games industry. When a rival (989 software) licensed ESPN's name and sold a similar quality game for $25, it sent shockwaves through the industry. So like any good, big company would do, they killed the competition by signing exclusives with ESPN, the NFL and the Players' Union -- and kept the price at $50.
Why did they do it? Well, for all of Madden's sales, EA's licensing costs essentially makes the game a break even business case. If they lose money (like with competition in 2004), the whole company begins to unravel.
Unless EA delivers big with "The Godfather," we may of another example of how large businesses can't survive if creativity is their lifeblood.