Videogame publisher Electronic Arts Inc. unveiled two initiatives Tuesday to breathe new life into its sports business by making games that are easier to play and customized for Nintendo Co.'s popular Wii console.
Key games such as "Madden" football, "NBA Live" and "FIFA" soccer will come out in special versions for the Wii, which has become the bestselling game system by drawing in female and older players with friendly graphics and simple motion-sensing controls.
EA also is starting a sub-brand dubbed Freestyle that will be home to a new set of games not tied to any existing league, therefore free of expensive licensing rights. The first game will be "Facebreaker," a cartoonish and whimsical boxing game due out in September.
"We can't be blind to the fact that different consumers are coming into games now, and shame on us if we can't evolve and develop something for that crowd," said Peter Moore, head of EA Sports.
EA expects to have sold about $1.3 billion worth of sports games in its fiscal year just ended in March, accounting for more than a third of total revenue.
EA's sports games are among the industry's bestselling titles each year. But many gamers have criticized them for including few groundbreaking new features and increasingly complex controls that make them tough to play.
Moore said the company had not forgotten about its core fans who want the most realistic experience.