Madden NFL has been scrutinized more by hardcore fans over the last few years of the XBox 360/PS3 era than at any other point. This is largely because the ability to communicate over the internet via forums and social media has taken off, but it isn’t just because of the ease of communication. However, there are some things that are said that come straight from people ‘on the front’ that can’t be ignored.
Over the last couple years we have seen some of the top names at EA Tiburon (Madden’s development group) leave for greener pastures. When Madden 10 was in development it was one of the first times Madden Fans got the chance to truly interact with the developers. Ian Cummings opened a lot of doors for the fan-base to openly communicate have have a voice (even if just the illusion of a voice). By the time Cummings left EA and Phil Frazier took over as one of the primary HNICs (he was already one of the top guys on the team) there were people from the Madden community hired by EA to help make the game better… or were they?
Mr. Dembroski was/is a tremendously informative hardcore football fan with valuable input for the Madden team during community days that were largely started by Cummings. He was eventually hired to work on Madden in an official capacity. If you take a look at the chain of posts he has recently made and many of the comments from other past Tiburon developers; you have to wonder if the complaints we are seeing are simply because communication is easier or because the game’s quality and innovation is truly being held back.
It was interesting to read about the people getting lied to in such an open manner. After reading that tweet I had a moment of clarity.
We (hardcore gamers and corporate consumers) already know we are being lied to by the companies in question.
It doesn’t matter which game you are talking about. By the time your favorite game goes ‘corporate’ or ‘mass market’ it is no longer a question of how to make the game better. It is a question of how to sell more games to more people every. single. year. The worst part about this is the fact that the consumer always loses when companies start using statistics and metrics to determine the development of any product – especially video games.
While some people might look at the comments from past developers of any game as ‘sour grapes’ (which would be easy to do); it should be understood that when it is one person leaving under bad circumstances it is highly probable. On the other hand, when you have multiple people leaving EA’s development studios on all fronts with bad things to say about the company – it isn’t just sour grapes. It is a sign that something is terribly wrong with the company.
The biggest sign I saw that EA Sports was going the wrong direction was when they started pushing Ultimate Team. This is one of the biggest cash-hoarding schemes I have seen in gaming. It isn’t too dissimilar from Call of Duty or any other shooter releasing map packs other than the fact that with Ultimate Team you are sinking money into created players that expire after using them for so long. So in reality – it is totally different! EA Sports is not a company focused on giving the gamer a better experience or a new direction for sports gaming… it is a company dedicated to making money and putting out annual cash cows that can be patched between two and four times because it is easier (more cost effective) to put out a half-finished piece of software and fix major issues than it is to release a quality (and slightly more time consuming) product.