Chat with Darren Rovell
Darren blogs on ESPN Insider, has a weekly podcast available on Apple.com and is the author of the upcoming book, First in Thirst: How Gatorade Turned The Science of Sweat Into A Cultural Phenomenon.
Deals, endorsements, agents, contracts -- Darren's knows all the dirt! Send in your questions now, join him for the answers on Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Darren Rovell (4:01 PM)
OK. I'm ready to roll. There are a ton of questions out there and there are a good deal of angry people, who feel snubbed by EA getting exclusive rights to the NFL this year. Over the next hour, I hope to answer all your questions about the business of video games and Madden 06, which of course debuted early this morning.
Kansas City , Missouri
I feel every video game nfl gamer should boycott the Madden game.It is a slap in the face to Football fans and video game fans. Football is about competition and the Madden image is about competition. The real reason EA made such a dramatic move was because someone made a better game than EA's Madden and at a cheaper price to consumers. The real losers in this deal is the consumers.
Darren Rovell (4:04 PM)
I'm hearing a lot about this boycott. What people have to realize is that this is part of capitalism. EA felt that the best move for them in the future was to buy the exclusive rights to the NFL. I know consumers are angry because they might have liked ESPN's game better, but you guys should also realize this, if there were an ESPN game this year, there was no way that it would be a $19.99 game. At the price, it's a money loser and it was done to ruffle EA's feathers, which it certainly did. But the fault in everyone's argument here is that they assume that a competitive product would have been as cheap as ESPN's $19.99 and that's just not the case.
What circumstances/retaliation if any would you expect to come about as a result of EA sports monopolization of the gridiron gaming for the next 5 years?
Darren Rovell (4:07 PM)
I don't think making this deal was a no-brainer for the NFL. They might have received a reported $400 million for it, but if NFL games are the true money makers behind the sports gaming companies, what will the rights fee be in five years if EA's the only one around? That's still up in the air. It will be interesting to see how Midway's unlicensed Blitz will do this year (I'll talk about that a bit later). But I predict it will do surprisingly well and they didn't have to pay any up front fees, besides an endorsement contract to Lawrence Taylor.
Andrew : Baltimore
What do you think about the passing cone? I think it takes away a lot from the game. It complicates it to the point that it's less fun and enjoyable to play.
Darren Rovell (4:09 PM)
The game has only been out for less than a day and I've already heard a lot of feedback on the passing cone. If I took a straw poll, I'd say about 75 percent of you don't like it. But that will come down. Like anything, you'll just have to get used to it.
Ed (Las Vegas)
These exclusivity deals EA has signed with the NFL, NBA, MLB, etc., smack of an anti-trust violation. Could other software manufacturers bring suit?
Darren Rovell (4:11 PM)
Ed, it's not anti-trust. Unions are excluded from antitrust liability. The players associations in these leagues have every right to collectively license their group of players to whomever they want to.
Darren Rovell (4:12 PM)
Just to clarify, MLB's exclusive license is with Take-Two, not with EA.
David (Centreville, Va)
So EA has the rights to ESPN/ABC, but what happens with the game when Madden himself moves over to NBC?
Darren Rovell (4:14 PM)
This is going to be interesting. EA spent all this money to be able to use the ESPN branding, but that's just not going to jive with their most popular franchise...especially since they just renewed Madden and Madden's headed to NBC.
Darren, What's your favorite thing about madden this year?
Darren Rovell (4:17 PM)
My favorite feature is the superstar mode where you can pick your agent and do all this off the field stuff. I think this was the natural evolution. A lot of people obviously want to play the games, but I think in this Sim/reality world, more and more people want to see what they can do off the field. This will give Midway a chance to sell some games because even though EA paid hundreds of millions for the NFL license, Midway is going to exploit the fact that people want to role play off the field.
What is the steroid testing policy while playing in "Superstar" mode?
Darren Rovell (4:18 PM)
Obviously the Superstar mode like the rest of the game is subject to the approval of the NFL. That's why I am saying that Blitz is going to do better than people think because although they don't have real players or teams, they can do anything they want. You won't see players failing drug tests in this Madden. Details of Blitz are not yet clear, but I bet that's a possibility in Midway's game.
Will Madden 2006 be available for Xbox 360 when it is released?
Darren Rovell (4:19 PM)
Yes. You won't have to wait until Madden O7.
Ryan (Cape Cod,MA)
Can you have Drew Rosenhaus as your agent in SuperStar mode?
Darren Rovell (4:20 PM)
The agents are a great part of the superstar mode, but they are fictional agents. I would guess that next year, EA will sign real agents to deals so that you can actually sign with real agents. Heck, the real agents will do it for free. It's a pretty cool recruiting tool. Though I'm sure they'll complain about their negotiating ratings like players complain about their speed.
Karl (San Diego)
Is there a Groupie factor in the Superstar mode?
Darren Rovell (4:21 PM)
Again, you'll probably find that in Blitz and people will go there for that even though the game action can't be as realistic.
Do you envision any video games or sims allowing the user to take the role of the agent? That seems like the next step since you can already be the coach, player, and GM.
Darren Rovell (4:22 PM)
Absolutely Scott. I think there's a whole line of gaming that is going to come out where you can just be the GM or just be in the agent or just be the manager of ticket sales of concessions. I think of the college football computer game I used to love made by Solecismic. The game takes two seconds. The rest of the time you are recruiting players for your program.
J Roc Louisville, KY
How about the alleged "Madden Curse", will that bother McNabb this year?
Darren Rovell (4:23 PM)
When you look at the numbers, you see it's kind of overblown. Faulk is arguable. Vick is undeniable. Other than that there's not much compelling evidence.
Are there any bad agents with the training insititute?
Darren Rovell (4:25 PM)
Again, great idea. EA are you listening? There has to be bad agents who steal your money. That should be part of the game. Jordan gets commission if it's on Madden 07.
Billy (Lubbock, TX)
Darren, do you think that Madden 06 is worth the money? I've heard that the new passing cone and the Superstar mode is really the only thing that sets it aside from the 2005 edition.
Darren Rovell (4:27 PM)
It depends on how many times you play it. $50 is still pretty cheap entertainment these days. If you live in Lubbock, Texas, $50 will buy you approximately 15 hours of watching movies in a movie theatre. If you are playing Madden for more than 15 hours, it's probably worth it.
Ford (Fort Worth, TX)
Darren. Do you think the popularity of Madden over the years has evolved and empowered the knowledge in younger fans that will spark a whole new breed of superior strategists in the NFL/NCAA some 10-15 years down the road?
Darren Rovell (4:28 PM)
Now that would be cool. I know guys like Charlie Weis have never played college or pro ball, how great would it be if the only thing on some guy's resumes would be Madden champion.
Dale (Jacksonville, Fl)
Why are certain coaches on Madden, Parcells in particular, not represented?
Darren Rovell (4:30 PM)
Coaches aren't like players. There is no collective group licensing their rights, so they have to be signed up on an individual basis. Have no idea on Parcells but I know he's very sensitive to how he's portrayed. Maybe they couldn't get something that he felt was close enough to looking like him.
Why are musical artists so elated about getting songs featured within video games?
Darren Rovell (4:32 PM)
Cortney, I touched on it in my article a bit. Madden is the new way to communicate to a young, targeted audience. It might sound strange, but it's just as different as Starbucks starting to get a reputation in the music industry. Kids don't get introduced to songs through the radio anymore and Madden is just one point of entry that seems to be a good pathway to success for some of the young and not yet discovered.
how many games will you predict to be sold
Darren Rovell (4:35 PM)
I think they'll sell millions and break a new record. But I don't think that's surprising. Those boycotting won't have an effect and the fact that they're the only licensed game on the market certainly helps. The bigger story this year, I think will be the success of Blitz. Given the lack of licensing fees, I think the game will do better than Midway's entries in year's past, which would be amazing given the amount of money EA spent to supposedly quash all competition.
K-dog (Los Angeles, Ca)
Whats the next step for Madden in terms of gameplay. It seems like it cant get more realistic then it is now
Darren Rovell (4:37 PM)
Everyone in the business has this question -- when will Madden hit the wall? Can they innovate that much in the future so that the franchise never dies? Well, they've had a great run and people will still buy in record numbers in '05. But we'll have to see. I think EA should be worried about a future where people can figure out how to update rosters without buying a new game...that would be an awful blow.
Is Madden 2006 going to be out on PSP
Darren Rovell (4:39 PM)
So if you could only have one, which would you go for, Madden or Blitz?
Darren Rovell (4:40 PM)
Tough question. I just think there will be some things in Blitz that will be completely different and outrageous. But I'm not sure if I'll get tired of it if I'm not playing with real players.
Dave (Boston, MA)
Darren, I'm just about to leave work to pick up Madden; what are my changes that there will still be some copies left in stores?
Darren Rovell (4:41 PM)
Extremely high if you go to the big chains. EB Games, Gamestop, etc.
$49 is a ripoff for Madden '06
Darren Rovell (4:44 PM)
I know this is not a question, but I hear this line over and over again. If you are a gamer, it just seems to me that it's the cost of doing business. Think if it in these terms. Madden costs the equivalent of: 1 1/2 fillups of gas in New York for a 2004 Jeep Cherokee Laredo or 25 bottles of Gatorade. That's it. Put it in perspective. I tried to do that with the movies analogy. I'm not trying to sell more games for EA. I'm just saying that people usually don't think rationally about the price of these things.
Patrick (Washington D.C.)
Do you think that EA will post roster updates to be downloaded from the internet? I know they haven't done this for other games such as MVP Baseball.
Darren Rovell (4:46 PM)
I honestly don't know the answer to this question. But I think roster updates, as I said before, could become a hairy situation for EA.
I love how EA makes it so that Madden and NCAA football use the same engine, yet feel like completely different games to play. Currently, you can take players from NCAA after they graduate and place them into Madden. What are the chances that we will see other kinds of intergration with NCAA and Madden, i.e., taking a coach from NCAA to the NFL?
Darren Rovell (4:48 PM)
The potential here is huge and this is definitely one of my favorite features. To translate to coaches would be brilliant. You should be able to do the same in college basketball as well.
Dave (Oakland, CA)
Madden 06 or NCAA Football 06?
Darren Rovell (4:49 PM)
I think they're both good, but it ultimately comes down to what you're a bigger fan of. If you love the NFL, you buy Madden. If you don't really like college football, you're buying Madden.
Darren, do you think that EA will come up with a way to actually say created players names if they aren't already in the game?
Darren Rovell (4:50 PM)
This is like a massive brainstorming session. I love it Justin.
Darren Rovell (4:52 PM)
Have to run. Thanks so much for all your great questions and suggestions (I hope EA was listening). If you missed it, don't forget to read my story on Madden on the site today. You can also check out my blog on Insider and my podcast on Apple.com (a new one is unveiled every Thursday). Happy Maddensday!