Monday the 18th saw Manchester City strike a multi-million pound partnership with the largest sports gaming company in the world, EA Sports. This is one hell of a smart move on City's part as it has opened up several opportunities both now and in the future.
The deal (much like the one with Etihad) has been described as "unprecedented in both scale and scope within the computer gaming industry." The deal will see exclusive FIFA12 content distributed through EA Sports and mcfc.co.uk and will also include match simulations prior to the fixtures.
In addition to this EA have done 360 degree 3D captures of ALL of the first team squad which will be seen in the upcoming FIFA12 game coming out on 30th September 2011. EA will also invest in creating "experiential gaming areas" in and around the Etihad Stadium further improving the experience of the City Square and family zone.
Not only all this but for the first time in EA's history they have produced a 'virtual kit launch for Manchester City's 2011-12 home kit (see below) which features several of City's star players and for the first time City's home ground, the newly renamed Etihad Stadium. And to top things off, there will be downloadable content for City fans when the game is relseased.
I do hope Arsene Wenger hasn't seen this video otherwise we'll be seeing another spittle spewing rant of his at how City's aren't playing fair. I mean how dare City not only take their players from them, beat them to automatic Champions League qualification, Sign a bigger sponsorship deal than them, and have Mancini publicly say that another of their players is good (because Wenger's never done that has he? Oh noooo), but now EA depict City beating the gooners 2-0 in a bespoke piece of footage meant for Manchester City and its fans! Oh how very dare they!
So what does this actually mean for City in real terms? It's fair to say that Manchester City are a rapidly expanding Club in terms of popularity. They're now the 8th most played side on FIFA11 which shows you the level or their popularity at the moment. This deal is set to see City's popularity soar even higher in the gaming community which will ultimately gain more fans for the club and more money through sales of merchandise.
It's a fact of life that the more something is portrayed in a positive way, more people are attracted to it. It's human nature. Young kids get hold of games like FIFA and see the likes of Rooney, Messi, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, and Kaka on the front cover and they think "yeah I'll follow them because they're the best." And who can blame them? They don't know any better. In fact Shrek has been on the front cover for as long as I can remember; and you wonder why so many kids seem to just automatically follow United?
So what if in the near future we had a front cover of FIFA that looked like this?
Or maybe this?
Ok I know it's highly unlikely we'll get a cover without Shrek any time soon unfortunately, but what if it did have a City player on, a World Cup winner like David Silva? I'm absolutely certain you would see the profile of the club sky rocket immediately. I don't hold out too much hope that we'll have a player on the front cover this time round but after this deal, anything is possible. Exciting times eh?