Long a darling of the sports world, Tiger Woods found himself on the front page of many-a-tabloid this week. Following a mysterious car crash over the weekend, he was the subject of an US Magazine story in which a Los Angeles waitress claimed she had an affair with the pro golfer.
The article, accompanied by a recording allegedly of Woods to the waitress, set off a media firestorm culminating in the athlete issuing a statement on his official Web site. In it, he admitted to personal "transgressions" and apologized to his wife and family.
Woods' admission led to widespread questions about his myriad endorsement deals, which have helped make him a billionaire at age 33. However, since then, Reuters reports that a litany of his sponsors, which include Procter & Gamble's Gilette razors, Pepsico's Gatorade sports drink, and Nike athletic wear, have said the scandal won't affect their deals with the athlete.
Joining that chorus of support is Electronic Arts, longtime developer and publisher of the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series of golfing sims. "Our strong relationship with Tiger for more than a decade remains unchanged," the company said in statement provided to GameSpot. "We respect Tiger's privacy, we wish him a fast recovery, and we look forward to seeing him back on the golf course." (The same statement was given to other media outlets.)
EA's collaboration with Woods dates all the way back to 1998, when it published Tiger Woods 99 PGA Tour Golf for the PC and original PlayStation. Since then, the series has appeared on every major gaming platform save the Sega Dreamcast, selling millions of copies. The most recent installment, 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 nearly 1 million units on all platforms in the US as of October 31, with nearly half of those being the MotionPlus-enhanced Wii version.
As for the future of Tiger Woods games, EA Sports president Peter Moore announced in August that Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online is currently in closed beta. The browser-based game, which was recently previewed by GameSpot, will charge players a subscription fee in exchange for the regular addition of courses and features. EA has also indicated microtransactions may be added to the game at a later date.