Madden's 'NFL 07' Video Game Posts Record Sales

Electronic Arts Inc. said Thursday that sales of its latest "Madden" football video game grossed more than $100 million in its first week, the biggest launch in the franchise's 17-year history and the latest sign of an improving outlook for the industry.

EA, the world's largest video game publisher, said consumers snapped up more than 2 million copies of "Madden NFL 07" in its opening week, up 12 percent from last year's game launch.

The Madden game is the flagship franchise for the Redwood City-based game maker, with new versions each year ranking consistently as best sellers. To date, more than 53 million copies of the game have been sold.

While a handful of other game titles have had more successful openings — Microsoft Corp. said its Halo 2 game reached $125 million in sales within the first 24 hours in 2004 — robust interest in the Madden game is a welcome development in a year where game makers are struggling amid a video game console transition period.

Along with other game makers, EA's sales have suffered as consumers have delayed purchases until the expected release later this year of next-generation consoles, namely Sony Corp (SNE).'s PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Co.'s Wii.

An industry turnaround isn't expected until next year, and EA officials predicted during its quarterly earnings report on Aug. 1 that video game sales for 2006 across the industry would be flat to down 5 percent.

Still, the success of the latest Madden game illustrates how lucrative the video game industry has become. Its opening-week gross sales rivals some of this year's biggest movie box office draws: "The Da Vinci Code" movie, for instance, drew $102 million in its first week, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.