I find it depressing to look over my collection and see what an effect Tiger Woods PGA Tour had on me, and how little it matters now. I never cared for golf or golfing video games, but EA’s series opened the door. I discovered Hot Shots, Swing Away, Pangya, Arnold Palmer, Fred Couples, and the elder EASN/EA PGA Golf franchise because of it. Forwards and backwards, the doorway opened to a new sports genre. I love golf games now, simulation or arcade.
I can see Tiger Woods titles everywhere. Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, DS, PSP, N-Gage, PlaySation, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360, Gamecube… I have versions for all of those consoles. I even have an old flip cell phone with an edition of Tiger Woods on it (and the awesome Vijay Singh Golf as well). I spent hundreds on multiple editions in a single year just to get a fix at home and on the go. Yet, this little subset of my collection is barren after 2009. What was once a guaranteed purchase across multiple platforms has become something I always pass on.
There are no complaints with the game itself. The analog swing is as sharp as it has ever been, and visually, it is an outstanding achievement. This has everything to do with the business model.
Tiger Woods was the first franchise to include an online pass. That turned the franchise from an instant buy into a guaranteed skip. The chilling effect on the rights of consumers is damning. Then came the DLC, with a pro shop geared towards purchasing items with real money rather than game money, some locked behind paywalls entirely, and cracking the online balance. Then the DLC courses happened, $50 per year or more to cruise some locations on top of the initial cost. Embarrassingly, course selection on disc still has not matched that of a previous generation.
Career modes were cheapened by skipping events unless you paid. This year, the Legends of the Masters mode is weakened by the lack of a vintage Augusta. Then EA began selling ads in the menus in 2011, a practice that has finally waned this year, but still a turn off previously. You have to wonder why the series still retails for $60.
Breaking up with Tiger Woods is depressing. Playing some of the game this year for review revealed a miserable online experience that never justifies the $10 they charge for the online pass in the first place. Gone is a purpose for tournament cash, replaced by arbitrary gold coins, because that’s how the PGA pays their golfers, right? That design choice makes the game easier to port to mobile devices and tablets, and then charge for boosts. EA has lessened the reliance on paid cheats and pro shop items on consoles, although the massive list of DLC courses likely makes up the financial difference.
The on-course play has never been better, but it’s a shame it costs so much in consumer rights and cash to experience it all.