The driving force behind Electronic Arts' (NASDAQ:ERTS) sports collection is the Madden franchise. People love it. Every year at this time, fans of the pixel gridiron start gearing up for the next upgrade. Investors in Electronic Arts can also share in the emotional experience, since they know that Madden usually moves a ton of copies right through the holiday season, creating lots of shareholder value.

Those shareholders can take heart in a recent press release issued by Electronic Arts -- it looks as though John Madden is going to stick around for a while. Although it was probably a foregone conclusion that the famous commentator would continue the partnership, it is gratifying to have the deal etched in stone. Although Electronic Arts is a publisher with a diversified lineup of hits, the importance of the Madden series cannot be overestimated -- could you imagine, for instance, McDonald's suddenly losing the rights to its Big Mac sandwich? I can't, either.

The news of Madden's fresh contract serves as a positive counteragent to a bit of recent negativity. It seems the market was none too happy about the company's decision to put off its software interpretation of The Godfather, a property licensed by Viacom (NYSE:VIA). Delays are an inevitable fact of life, but they seem to carry a lot of weight in the world of video games. I don't like the delays, and I suspect that they could be avoided with careful project management, but at the same time, things happen, and they must be accepted.

Companies such as Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI), THQ (NASDAQ:THQI), and Take-Two Interactive (NASDAQ:TTWO) produce very complicated game programs these days that are getting closer and closer to the theatrical movie experience. As such, snags and quality control oftentimes necessitate a missed date. Still, they should be kept to a minimum. (How many of you out there have thrown a fit when you suddenly find out that a game you've been patiently waiting for won't be out till the following calendar year?)

Here's the flip side of delays: potential buying opportunities. Electronic Arts shareholders who like to add to their existing positions received some better prices when the news hit Wall Street last week. For the long-term shareholder, seeing The Godfather sometime in 2006 really is no big deal. Of more importance is the blue-chip status of Electronic Arts. This company will remain a premier player in the video-game sector far into the future, thanks to its highly regarded sports games and rich portfolio of offerings.

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Electronic Arts and Activision are past selections of the Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter service.

Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy.