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Riccitiello puts pressure on Woods to win

"We're willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for a period of time," says EA CEO

Outspoken EA chief exec John Riccitiello has said that golfer Tiger Woods needs to regain his form if its sponsorship deal with the sportsman is to continue to make business sense.

EA said it would stick with Woods when revelations of his private life hit the headlines last year, but since then the golfer's form has dropped considerably.

"This is no threat against Tiger," Riccitiello told the Reuters Global Media Summit in New York. "We're with him because he has the promise of being the world's best golfer."

"We have no plans to move away from him, but it's a business relationship on the basis of we make the best golf game and he's the best golfer. Both of those things need to be true in the long run for the partnership to make sense."

"He sort of stuck with us for a very long time and we made great business together. And we're willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for a period of time."

According to EA, scandal in the star's private life had no immediate impact on sales of Tiger Woods-branded games, although the recently released Facebook title EA Sports PGA Tour Golf Challenge does not carry the sportsman's name.

In a separate interview with Kotaku, Riccitiello also tried to clear the air following his comments yesterday that buying developer Harmonix would be akin to trying to catch falling knives.

"When asked about it yesterday, what I said was Alex [Rigopulos, co-founder of Harmonix] is a great developer, Harmonix is one of the great developers of all time. They've got the leading dance product and maybe the leading game full stop on Kinect and the question was what investors might be thinking about it.

"[I said t]he nervous investor would be worried about the decline in the music sector feeling like a falling knife. The only part of that conversation that got reported was the 'falling knife' part. Given the run up to it it's a little bit unfair condemnation of people I have a great deal of respect for. Harmonix is at least as responsible as any company on earth for the creation of a genre. There aren't that many times you can point to that level of innovation," he said.

Viacom is currently looking for a buyer for Harmonix as it exit's the videogame business, but Electronic Arts is unlikely to be bidding, with Riccitiello stating that the publisher is out of favour with investors and asking prices in general for games businesses are too high.

"There are probably 25 companies on our radar that would make sense for us at somewhere between 5 and 10 per cent of the asking price," he said.

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Matt Martin


Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.