Electronic Arts was once a big-time player in the world of licensed golf games, but those days now appear to be over. Independent developer HB Studios announced today that it has reached an agreement with the PGA Tour to add officially licensed courses to The Golf Club 19.
The PS4, Xbox One, and PC game will have a Career Mode that begins with players progressing as a real player would. This includes going through Q-School, then the Web.com tour, and eventually to the PGA Tour–including the FedExCup Playoffs. A press release explains that sponsorships will be unlocked through career mode, so the licensing may apply to more than just courses. Those courses include: TPC Summerlin, TPC Scottsdale, TPC Sawgrass, TPC Southwind, TPC Deere Run, and TPC Boston. More courses may be added as DLC later on.
The deal between HB Studios and the PGA Tour appears to only cover courses and potentially sponsors, but not players themselves. The financial terms of the licensing agreement were not disclosed. The deal was brokered by CAA Sports, which is the sports division of the mega-talent agency.
The first Golf Club game launched in 2014, with a sequel arriving in 2017. Those games were praised in particular for their course-creation tools, but as mentioned, they lacked a wider appeal due to how they did not have the PGA Tour license. The third game is coming out in August.
The PGA Tour’s licensing director Matt Iofredo told GolfChannel.com that the tour enjoyed a “long-term successful partnership” with EA, adding that the split was amicable. He told the site that video games are a good way to help grow golf as a sport, and that’s why he’s happy to see the PGA Tour’s licensing deal go to a new company.
“The hope is that you start playing the video game and it piques your interest in golf in general and then maybe you want to attend an event, maybe you want to tune in on TV or one of the digital platforms, or maybe you want to go out to a driving range and hit balls and eventually go play,” Iofredo said.
EA once enjoyed a lot of success in the licensed golf game market, thanks in part to Tiger Woods. But after losing Woods, the franchise went on a mini hiatus before getting resurrected in 2015 with a new game called Rory McIlroy PGA Tour. The game received generally poor reviews, and EA never released another major licensed home console game. Rory McIlroy PGA Tour will be removed from digital marketplaces this week, presumably due to its expired licensing deal.