Fight fans will remember that EA announced that it was getting into mixed martial arts gaming at its E3 2009 press conference. EA Sports MMA looks to capitalize on the burgeoning popularity of the sport. One of the biggest challenges to EA Sports is building a recognizable and sizable roster for this game. Zuffa, LLC currently owns the rights to the majority of fighters appearing in UFC and WEC, the former being -- by far -- the most popular MMA organization in America. In a recent interview with Gamasutra, EA Sports president Peter Moore revealed his strategy for building a roster in EA Sports MMA:
"We are looking obviously at every fighter that we can, that we feel is applicable from a quality level and then analyzing their image rights, and if they're available and we want them -- then we'll get them. If they're not then we'll move on to the next fighter."
The problem with this strategy is that most fighters sign away their likeness rights when they commit to a large company like UFC. This leaves EA Sports MMA with the option to go after the few MMA fighters that control their rights, talent working for Affliction MMA, and lesser-known fighters competing in smaller leagues. Even if the gameplay turns out amazing, it will be tough for EA Sports to duplicate the amazing success of THQ's UFC 2009: Undisputed without a large roster of popular fighters. While I don't doubt that EA will sign several popular fighters, I doubt that it can serve up a roster comparable to the one in UFC 2009.
For you MMA fans in the house, what fighters would you like to see in EA Sports MMA? I'm hoping for Carlos Newton, the master of Dragon Ball Jiu-Jitsu!