Originally posted on The Sports Post  |  Last updated 7/22/13
The 2013 UFC Fan Expo took place on 4th of July weekend at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center and included several presentations on the main stage including Q and A sessions with Dana White, Joe Rogan, Chael Sonnen and others, as well as the Hall of Fame inductions of Ultimate Fighter alumni Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar. Also on the main stage, EA Sports presented fans with a first-look at the upcoming video game EA Sports: UFC. The partnership between UFC and EA Sports was announced last summer at E3 and came as a complete shock to video gamers and fans of the UFC due to the fact that Dana White had a nasty public dispute with EA previously. Apparently, he met with EA Sports prior to the development of the first UFC video game (on current-generation consoles) in hopes that the sports video game juggernaut would help launch UFC into the upper echelon of the video game platform. "EA Sports told us, 'You're not a real sport,'" White said at the UFC 100 press conference. "I'm telling you straight-up, I'm at war with them right now. That's how I look at it.” The contract instead went to THQ, who had previously cornered the market on WWE and UFC games starting with Ultimate Fighting Championship on Sega Dreamcast. Needless to say, when Dana White later found out that EA Sports was planning to delve into Mixed Martial Arts with the creation of EA Sports MMA, the always outspoken CEO was livid. "We put our asses on the line, THQ and the UFC, to make a video-game deal in the worst economy in the world," White told reporters in July 2009. "We go out there and do this thing, and it's successful, and now God-damn EA Sports wants to do a video game.” It seems that the UFC has mended fences with EA Sports given the announcement at the 2012 E3 convention explaining a multi-year, multi-game deal between the two companies. At the time, very little was revealed about the game and almost no updates have been given since, until the Fan Expo in Las Vegas earlier this month. The EA Sports branding of UFC is a huge development in a sport which is still in its adolescent phases. Sports video games have become tremendously popular in the last decade, and a semi-obscure sport almost has to have an EA game to thrive alongside other major sports. EA has an immense, ever-increasing built-in audience thanks to games like Fight Night, Tiger Woods Golf and the almighty Madden NFL series. To put the vast reach into perspective, consider the sales figures for Madden alone over the last two years. According to gamebandits.com, Madden NFL 12 sold 1.4 million units in the first week, and EA’s internal estimates claim that the 2013 version sold 900,000 copies on the first day it went on sale. It stands to reason that UFC would benefit greatly from the explosive growth that is currently transpiring among EA Sports games, since most sports fans are gamers and vice versa. One can only imagine the potential that lies ahead for UFC console gaming with the introduction of next generation consoles such as Xbox One and Playstation 4. The UFC game is expected to be one of the front runners for the new technologies, so it truly is a perfect time for the series to sink or swim. If the game is a huge success, which is very likely given the track record of UFC and EA Sports, this could prove to be the catalyst for a major mainstream surge that could finally make the UFC a permanent household name in the sports community. By: Rodney James Twitter: @RodneyJames138
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