Hey everyone, hope you enjoyed my article. Read it on the front page if you haven't already.
Oh, and let's get started.
Does online "cheesing" upset you?
You know what? This is the kind of question that should be studied in college ethics classes. I'm serious. Are we to follow the letter of the law, or the spirit? What price victory? How far is too far when it comes to manipulating the rules of the game -- should be applaud or be appalled by cleverness set to selfish ends? It's almost like the debate about Wall Street regulation.
But, to answer your question, I'm more of a sim guy.
Who do you feel was the biggest weapon throughout the history of madden?
The biggest weapon? For the Madden Franchise as a whole, its biggest early weapon was being able to iterate game code and tweaks much more quickly than competitors ... they literally tested and played their way to a superior game. Later on, I think the game's reputation, marketing and NFL license/indentification became huge sales weapons.
In terms of the actual in-game players, I have to go with Randy Moss, Mike Vick in Madden 04, Philly QB No. 12, Jerry Rice in any 1990s Madden and pretty much every tight end on a five yard crossing route. Oh, and nano blitzing.
Great story Patrick! How much has John Madden made over the years from his participation?
Good question. I don't have an exact number, but I think something in the seven-figure ballpark -- remember, this is over 20-plus years of endorsing -- is likely.
As I mention in the story, the funny thing is that Madden had the opportunity to buy as much EA IPO stock after the release of the first game, but declined to do so. (Really: read the story). The stock increased in value tenfold over the next decade ... he would have made a killing. Not that Madden is hurting for cash.
Hey Patrick. Just got done reading your piece on Madden. It was awesome. One of the best stories I've read in a long time.
Thank you. My kind of poster! I have only one small quibble with your comment .. "ONE OF the best stories?" Ha ha.
Im 36...grew up with the originals and still love those over the teched out Maddens today. Back in college we would have 48 hr. tournaments of Madden playing a season with postseason in 2 days nonstop! Does this debauchery still go on? Oh by the way, I could've done a lot better in College if it weren't for Madden.
I think it does go on, though much of it now takes place online. And that's kind of sad, because playing with your buddies in person is so much more rewarding. Madden is kind of like Wii -- it really works best as a social game where you can taunt and trash talk. One of my favorite college memories is teaming up with a friend to crush another friend in Madden ... after running up the score and talking smack the whole time, my friend wouldn't talk to me for like two days. He ended up being in my wedding party.
DO you ever create your own guy and make him all 99s?
I'm pretty sure that's required by law, right? OF COURSE. And I give him a mustache if I can.
I think Madden is lightyears behind nfl 2k5
Gameplay-wise, I've always been partial to the 2K series. Especially 2K8. I think Madden has made some pretty big strides to close that gap the last two years, especially with blocking and player movement. I'd still like to see route based, timing dependent passing, though. I love that in 2K, the QB's drop means everything.
Playing the new demo, I'm not completely sold on the new play calling feature. Thoughts?
I haven't tried it out yet, only been in practice mode. I'm actually playing against the country's top Madden player tonight for a Page 2 column that's running tomorrow. He's one of the guys from "Madden Nation" and I suspect he will pummel me.
What is the biggest thing to look toward the future of the Madden Franchise? Will it last?
Interesting question. I think Madden will be with us in some shape or form so long as there are video games and the NFL ... but I wonder what that form will be. Social and portable and gesture-based gaming is the new new thing, and so far Madden hasn't been able to crack those nuts completely ... the current game can't, not really, unless it becomes something totally unrecognizable. And since it still has to be football, too, I'm not sure how much it can radically evolve.
Do you think Madden can keep up with the changing times in video games? The Madden generation is getting a bit older!
Great question. EA is very aware of this -- Gameflow is a move to try and address this issue. In some ways, Madden is like Congress, or a defense department weapons system, or anything that grows increasingly complex and unwieldy over time. They're always trying to add things and make the game better and more capable, but in doing that, they run the risk of losing the very ease-of-play that made Madden a smash in the first place. It's a balancing act.
I agree with Luis really well done piece. How long did it take you to research? Did you talk to any athletes about there feelings on the game as it relates to pro football?
I've been working on and off on the story since January. I left A LOT of stuff on the cutting room floor -- I'm thinking about making it a book, or maybe writing a book on the early history of EA -- and the pro athlete stuff is part of what got cut out. In general, players say the game mirrors the fun aspects of football, and some of the strategy involved ... but it's not (thankfully) like doing an Oklahoma drill and sitting in a cold tub afterward.
Yeah, yeah we get it, read the story, stop self-promoting (joking, the article was outstanding). Which feature through the years has been the most ground breaking? Probably the button passing has to be first then what? Hit stick?
Actually, the most innovative feature - the one that is still with us, and may never change -- was the pseudo 3D field and camera view. EA programmers struggled a bunch with trying to get this right, and no one had done it before successfully. Thing is, the view just makes sense ... and you can tell because that's the same view coaching film is shot from. You even see it on Skycam during broadcasts. I wish televised football was shown from that view, you can see so much more of what is happening, and why.
Phenomenal article, a lot of really interesting tidbits in there. One question though...you mentioned the stock price for EA in '99, but I looked it up and noticed it took a HUGE dip in the mid-2000's...why is that?
Couple of things:(a) Dot com bubble burst affected the market in general, and tech stocks in particular;(b) Post 9-11 market crash;(c) EA made a lot of acquisitions and moves in the 2000s that didn't work out as well as hoped. I think there was some upper management upheaval as a result, but I'm not sure.
I was wondering about the competitive Madden world. You didn't touch on it, do you know much about it?
I have a column about that running on Page 2 tomorrow. In short, it reminds me a lot of competitive Halo players I wrote about a few years ago. They're kind of like competitive people at the top of any particular game -- they put way more time and thought into what they do than most of us put into any one thing.It helps if you are wired for obsessiveness.
Whats your thoughts on the Madden curse
Do you believe EA's exclusive license with the NFL has helped or hurt the quality of the Madden franchise? Many fans feel that EA has taken their foot off the gas, so to speak, now that there isn't anyone in the rear view mirror.
I hear you. I think the exclusive has hurt the game in two ways:(a) It's just harder to get better and innovate when you don't have someone pushing you, and don't have someone to borrow from, steal from or improve upon. 2K and Madden were good for each other, same with Gameday in the 1990s. It's no different in any line of work, really.(b) With no other football games out there, gamers sort of compare Madden to the perfect game that exists inside their heads. Madden can't win that battle.
A little more on this: Madden suffered in the jump to the X360 generation ... technical problems and perhaps emphasizing the wrong priorities in development. I think the current people in charge of making the game have it on a better track. They really, really care about the product. They're not phoning it in. They are under a lot of conflicting pressures due to the game's status and sizable fanbase. It's hard for them to make everyone happy, and in some ways, that means they leave everyone a little disappointed.
Do you think the NFL has dumbed down the game to some degree?
No! Actually the NFL has helped make Madden smarter by providing actual coaching film to the playbook guru at EA Tiburon, Anthony White. He knows his stuff. He is a total football nerd, and I mean that in a good way. Him and John Madden hit it off immediately.
The one thing the NFL keeps you from enjoying in Madden is illegal stuff, like horsecollar tackles and excessive post-play shoving.
Clearly EA is in this for profits, but do you ever think they would take a year off to try and make the game that much better or is there not much else that could be done programming wise?
Interesting question. The truth is that any video game will usually be better with some extra development time, and Madden's yearly window is really quite small .. on the other hand, I don't see sports games moving to an every other year model anytime soon. Too much money to lose, even if they tried something like a downloadable roster/gameply patch during the off year.
How do you feel about the soundtracks on Madden? Do you wish they were more diverse or do you like how they pick them?
I'm all about NFL Films music or bust. The Autumn wind is a Raider! I like that this year's game has classic stadium rock. Especially "Welcome to the Jungle" on kickoffs. That's sweet.
Do you think Brett Favre will be on Madden 11 when it releases on Tuesday?
I don't know. But I do know where you can occasionally find out information about Brett Favre. ESPN!
Hruby, I think you erred by including Queen in your fortunate list. We Will Rock You is actually a good song, unlike the others on the list. They're not really fortunate.
Off topic, but you know what? Point taken. You're right and I'm wrong. I should have used Smashmouth's "All-Star." God, I hate that song. I hope they share an oven in Hades with the Baha Men and the guys who made Cotton Eye Joe.
What has been the worst feature in your opinion that came and went in the franchise?
HAS to be the QB vision cone. That's like the New Coke of the Madden franchise. Nothing else comes close.
Patrick, what happens with Madden 12 next year if there is a work stoppage? Will there be players to download for the replacement players if it comes to that?
EA folks talked to Madden the man about this. The game will still come out ... but I have no idea about downloadable replacement players. It guess it would depend on the legal aspects at play. You could always just use create a player to make Shane Falco.
NFL players seem to play madden just as much as the ordinary guy. How many players do you think they ratings in madden are to scale with their real-life counterparts?
None. They ALL think they should be faster. In fact, the only player to ever tell John Madden he was overrated in the game was Emmitt Smith. True story.
You should definitely write a book on the subject. I think Madden's immense fan base would make it an instant success. I am already wanting more, and I can't wait for your article tomorrow. Thank you for such a great read.
I'm going to forward this to a literary agent. Thanks!
If you could add one new feature to Madden, what would it be?
You know, it's not a NEW feature, but I would just like to see the o-line/d-line interaction and animations continue to improve, and also have 2K-style timing and route running for the passing game. I'm a gameplay guy more than a feature guy.
In regards to your on the field weapons, how could you forget Emmitt Smith in Madden 94? I remember always running HB inside and taking it to the house, he was unstoppable!
Like I just said, even EMMITT thought he was overrated!
Do you think it will ever come a time when "Madden" goes the way of "Tecmobowl"? Outdone by the new game on the block? The 989 series and 2k series came close.
It's possible -- NFL 2K5 game really close. But not unless another company get the NFL license AND hits it out of the park on their first attempt ... which is kinda unlikely, given that all of the good football game developers either work at EA or 2K at this point.
I'm a little bit disappointed that you're article didn't make any reference to the original "Franchise," the truly revolutionary NFL video game without which there would be no Madden: Tecmo Bowl.
Actually, Tecmo didn't have any impact on Madden's early development ... that was a arcadey console game, Madden on the Apple II was meant to be a simulation ... but I do think Tecmo, along with TV Sports Football and Monday Night Football by Data East had an impact on the first Sega Genesis Madden.
How much of EA Sports total yearly revenue consists of Madden sales? What's their second highest-selling game currently? The NHL series? Tiger Woods?
Because of world wide sales, FIFA is actually No. 1. But Madden is tops in North America, which is a huge gaming market.
Do you see the franchise changing the title in future years as Madden has retired and he will not be as well known?
It's possible, but probably not for a while ... the Madden name has a ton of brand equity at this point.
I felt as a kid that the Joe Montana football was pretty impresive, the talking, or robot talk and the zoom feature was well ahead of its time.
Ha. I had that game. The Stephen Hawking talk was amazing for its time, thought the running game left a lot to be desired.
The graphics are quite amazing now, and a world better than they were not that long ago. But, when do you think it will become so good that if I randomly walked into a friends house, I wouldn't know at first look whether it was a real game or just a video one?
That might take a while. In fact, the technology will probably be able to do it before you actually see it on the screen, because the amount of work it takes to model things to that level of detail is ... probably not reasonable or profitable for a game-making company.Also, getting human-like animation into a game that also allows pointpoint control is forever a tradeoff. Can't have both.
I always say to my friends every year that TV should look like madden regarding the camera angle. Why do you think they rarely ever let us see it that way at home? Do you see more of that in the future?
I really hope so. Maybe it will be an option when TV and internet merge, and every game will offer like, eight camera angles for you to click through. Be your own broadcast truck!
Patrick, is there any consideration of a "Madden Light" version? For example - on the Wii, I usually just learn a few commands and start playing. However, w/ Madden, I have about 100 different commands to make it work. (Remember your F-16 flight simulator analogy)? Too steep a learning curve for an old guy like me...
I think Madden Arcade on XBox Live was supposed to be this. Didn't quite set the world on fire, though. I also think there's an untapped market for this kind of game, but it really has to feel different that what Madden has become.
Ironically, I actually believe Sega's ESPN NFL2K5 is the best football game I've played. What other football games do you think have rivaled Madden?
The early Gameday titles were solid. NCAA is sometimes better than Madden. 2K was always as good in my mind, and for on-field gameplay, I still like 2K8. Quarterback Club had one good year as well, assuming I'm not mistaken.Worst games ever? Mike Ditka Power Football, Joe Montana for Sega CD, the Konami ESPN NFL games.Oh, and Mutant League Football was AWESOME. That needs a remake badly.
It seems to me that EA has been working hard to shorten the offseason of the franchise mode for sometime. I feel this has done more harm than good. However, I am a franchise mode purest, any thought?
That's the balancing act. For every person who wants a franchise mode they can get in and out of, there's another person who wants to spend hours upon hours making trade proposals. I don't envy EA trying to make everyone happy. Game design is harder than it seems. Trust me on that.
Do you think the madden ratings have ever impacted a coaches decision to play a guy?
No, but I sometimes wondered if that was how the Washington Redskins determined their free agent priorities.
Bring the abulance back, please!!!
I've been in the Madden Community since 2005, giving feedback to developers each year on both NCAA and Madden. I've seen the company grow in terms of fan interaction and getting feedback from the hardcore fans. The problem is that the hardcore online fan only makes up for about 10-15% of everybody who buys madden. I feel they could be more innovative online. Do you think this plays a factor in how they innovate for online features?
Yes. When they try to please the hardcore, they risk alienating the casual player. And vice versa. People want different, conflicting things out the game.
What do you think of adding each teams announcers to the game to allow for each team to have its own hometown feel?
A nice idea, but totally impractical in terms of expense and time and disc space.
Why is there no longer past great teams avaliable to use, just type in the name and watch Walter Payton do his thing!!
I'm pretty sure former players have sued EA over this. Google it, it's out there.
I never watched football until I started to play Madden and learned to appropriate the intricacies of the game (i.e. playcalling, packages, etc.). I'm sure I'm not the only one, so how much would you credit Madden for the rise in popularity of the sport over the past couple of decades?
Great question. There was a very good article about this in Wired Magazine earlier this year, pointing out that the current generation of actual real life football players learned at least a bit about the game by playing Madden. I think high school football players understand cover 2 much better because of Madden, and there are certain routes -- like the wheel route -- that you never would have seen in high school football 20 years ago.
Patrick, how do you think the short turnaround cycle for next years version affect developers and what they can do compared to games like Halo and Gears of War who have years to develop the next version. EA often gets criticized of putting out the same game with updated rosters. Would love to hear your thoughts.
Definitely puts a lot of pressure on the people who make the game. No doubt. The game would be better with more development time, but that's true for any product. Even the stuff we write on ESPN.com.
What would you think of a way for superstars to be able to hold out, decline contracts, and hold out for more money, to take real control? Then allow yourself to really shape your ego as a hero or villan! a superstar, or a team captain!
Love the idea, not sure the NFL would allow it. I'd also like to see offseason player arrests and PED use, which ain't ever gonna happen outside "Blitz: the League."
It may have been asked already...but what was your favorite Madden Game? Your favorite Madden cover?
Madden '92 and '93. My favorite cover is easily the very first game, where John Madden is literally exploding out of the cover. It's really charming.
Oh, I'm way into overtime here. Gotta go. Thanks for stopping by, all.
Okay I am done, these were some of the dumbest questions selected ever in an ESPN chat