Given its wide-ranging appeal, its Madden NFL series has one of the broadest fan bases of any game franchise. Now, though, Electronic Arts is going after the game's most hardcore players in an unprecedented crossover between gaming and...jewelry?
Today, EA announced it has struck a deal with Jostens, the Minneapolis-based jewelry giant that specializes in graduation rings but has also crafted 27 out of the 41 Super Bowl Championship rings. Under the program, titled "Ring of a Champion," Jostens will begin making custom-designed, Madden-themed rings that reflect the skill level of a specific player of the sole officially licensed NFL game.
In Madden NFL 08, due out on August 11, players will progress through five different skill levels by performing various feats of virtual athleticism. Once they reach level three, they will unlock a design feature "embedded" in "next-generation console" versions of Madden and will be given a code that will give them access to the Ring of a Champion section of Jostens' Web site. Players will be able to choose from "three unique ring designs" which can be customized with any of the 32 NFL team logos, a variety of colors, and other elements on the rings' tops and sides. Those players which unlock "epic achievements" in Madden will unlock more ring-customization options.
EA is touting the Jostens deal as a perfectly logical extension of the Madden brand into the real world. For players, though, it won't be a cheap extension. The base model of the rings, made out of nonprecious metal and decorated with cubic zirconia and "simulated stones" will go for $149. Rings can also be made from 10K white or yellow gold for $495 each, while wealthy Madden addicts can pay an as-yet-undisclosed premium to have real diamonds incorporated into their game bling.
Madden NFL 08 will be released on August 14 for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360, Xbox, Wii, DS, GameCube, PC, and Macintosh.