Madden Case Study
All Pain no Gain
Madden is a best selling video game franchise in which gamers simulate football play in a virtual setting. Owned by EA Games, the brand works in conjunction with the NFL to bring real-life graphics, player abilities, and statistics to gamers around the world. Despite having reigned supreme for more than a decade, sales flatlined in recent years, and actually declined in 2017. Our task was to reclaim market share for the former industry giant. In order to increase sales, we had to find out why they had stagnated in the first place. Lapsed gamers blamed quitting Madden on it being "too complex," "difficult," and "strategy heavy." All were certainly valid complaints. Madden is no Candy Crush. With the improvement of graphics, stats, and playbook expansion, Madden had become less accessible; a real football-head's game. We needed to discover a new consumer segment for whom such complexity would be a selling point instead of a pain point. What group of people are not currently buying Madden... but should?
A white space on the green field
We found our answer when examining player demographics. There were approximately 2 million copies of Madden sold in 2017. Since 60% of Madden players were over the age of 18, then 800,000 players were under 18. However, there are 3.2M tackle football players under 18 in the United States. Those numbers didn't add up. If Madden is a real football-head's game, (complex, strategic, and difficult), why weren't the remaining 2.4M youth football players playing it? Turns out, youth football coaches were wondering the same thing. We found that coaches were aware of Madden’s ability to help improve players’ strategic thinking, and some were even assigning ‘Madden homework' to their players. The same complexity that turns general gamers off from Madden is what can be an essential learning tool for young football players. In fact, further research proved that playing Madden could measurably improve young athletes' abilities on the field.
Madden's a game changer
Since our our actual point of sale buyers for the under 18 bracket were parents, we would need to communicate directly with them. This target segmentation aligned perfectly, because social listening showed us that parents actually care more about their child's on-field performance than the coaches and players themselves. Our campaign would need to tap into football parents' competitive pride for their little player. We needed to let parents know that Madden is not simply a video game, but an essential strategic teaching tool that can actually improve their young athlete's performance on the field. Since most youth football parents' sports-related media consumption clustered around television and sports news outlets, we would talk to them when the moment was right, with a message that would change the game. We would show parents that for their young football player, Madden is as essential as a helmet and padding.