As I so "boldly" predicted 10 days ago, Electronic Arts' (NASDAQ:ERTS) Madden NFL 06 is already blowing away the competition -- or, more accurately, the lack thereof. EA, a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick, announced Thursday that the latest Madden has already sold a record 1.7 million copies at retail in its first week since the game's release Aug. 9. That represents a solid 26% increase from the franchise's previous record of 1.35 million units sold in the first week last year.

But as "bold" as my prediction was, it wasn't nearly as bold as the agitprop in EA's press release.

According to Vice President of Marketing Todd Sitrin, "Gamers were demanding the best Madden NFL Football ever this year and the response at retail indicates that we delivered the game that everyone wanted. Consumers have voted with their dollars, and the vote is in -- this is the best version of Madden NFL Football ever."

Ha, ha.

That's not an entirely accurate interpretation. For the most part, ratings for Madden NFL 06 are down from previous years. For example, gave both Sony's (NYSE:SNE) PlayStation 2 and Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox versions an 8.8 rating, down from 9.5 for Madden NFL 2005, and down from 9.5 for the PlayStation 2 version and 9.4 for the Xbox version of Madden NFL 2004. You see a similar trend with PS 2 Xbox
Madden NFL 06 8.8 8.8
Madden NFL 2005 9.5 9.5
Madden NFL 2004 9.5 9.4
Madden NFL 2003 9.1 8.8 PS 2 Xbox
Madden NFL 06 8.2 8.2
Madden NFL 2005 9.0 9.0
Madden NFL 2004 9.2 9.1
Madden NFL 2003 9.0 8.6

That doesn't necessarily mean that Madden NFL 06 is or isn't superior to previous versions; it just means that it is a stretch to attribute the gains to "giving the customers more of what they want" than before.

As we've discussed, the biggest difference this year is clearly EA's lack of competition. Last year, Take-Two Interactive (NASDAQ:TTWO) and partner Sega released their ESPN NFL 2K5 a few weeks ahead of Madden, and at only $20 a pop. By the end of the year, the PS2 version of Madden had outsold Take-Two's ESPN game by slightly more than 2-to-1 on a unit basis, while the Xbox version of ESPN marginally outsold Madden. But with the exclusive deals EA signed with the NFL and its players association last December, Take-Two's NFL video game franchise no longer exists.

It's not all talk, though. EA's NCAA Football 2006 for the PlayStation 2 was the best-selling video game for July, while the Xbox version came in second for the month. And even if EA's marketing propaganda doesn't quite ring true, it is a pretty good bet that EA will sell more copies of Madden at the full $50 price than it did last year, when it had to lower prices (because of Take-Two's competition) earlier in the season than ever before.

Motley Fool Stock Advisor offers stock advice from David and Tom Gardner. For a free trial, click here .

Fool contributor Jeff Hwang owns shares of Electronic Arts. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.