[UPDATE] With it being Tuesday in his native UK, EA Sports president Peter Moore has posted his statement on his blog. As predicted, it reveals that Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online will launch this month, having already been played by 75,000 people in a closed beta over the past eight months. EA reps said the company is aiming to launch the title within the next two weeks, when it will also announce its pricing model.
Perhaps more newsworthy is the tone of Moore's post, which offers strong support for the scandal-plagued Woods and draws a distinct line between his personal and professional life.
"Our relationship with Tiger has always been rooted in golf," said Moore. "We didn't form a relationship with him so that he could act as an arm's length endorser. Far from it. We chose to partner with Tiger in 1997 because we saw him as the world's best, most talented and exciting golfer. We struck that partnership with the assumption that he would remain near or at the top of his sport for years to come."
Moore continued, "By his own admission, [Woods has] made some mistakes off the course. But regardless of what's happening in his personal life, and regardless of his decision to take a personal leave from the sport, Tiger Woods is still one of the greatest athletes in history."
(The original story is below.)
The end of 2009 saw Tiger Woods lose a string of high-profile endorsement deals from AT&T, Gillette, and consulting firm Accenture following his admission of marital infidelity. Now, it seems 2010 will begin with an announcement about the future of the near-billionaire golfer's 11-year-old golf game franchise, Tiger Woods PGA Tour.
Electronic Arts has confirmed to GameSpot that EA Sports president Peter Moore's blog will "have a statement regarding Tiger" sometime on Tuesday, January 5. EA reps declined to comment on what the outspoken executive might say about his company's relationship with the disgraced athlete or when Moore would publish his statement.
However, USA Today believes that the announcement will be EA's confirmation that it is moving ahead with Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online. Currently in closed beta, the recently previewed browser-based game will charge players a subscription fee in exchange for the regular addition of courses and features. USA Today reports that the game, currently available in demo form, will launch later this month, although EA reps had not confirmed that as of press time.
Ever since Woods first admitted to committing personal "transgressions" last November, EA has stood by its longtime cover athlete. (He later admitted to infidelity outright.) "Our strong relationship with Tiger for more than a decade remains unchanged," company reps said at the time.
EA Sports has not clarified whether or not the next entry in its console PGA Tour series will feature Woods on the cover or in the title. Its last Tiger Woods game, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10, was released in June for the Wii, PSP, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. According to NPD Group figures, the game had sold over 1 million units on all platforms in the US as of November 30, with nearly half of those being the MotionPlus-enhanced Wii version.