Madden 15 Super Bowl Info – What Should We Expect?

During the time between Madden 09 and Madden 10 there was a large upheaval in the Madden development team.  Ian Cummings had stepped in as the Creative Director and was really taking a leap to get into the world of the gamers.  This meant that he was very active in community forums and took a lot of feedback from the ‘sim’ gaming community.  Madden 10’s first glimpse came from a photo released during the Super Bowl XLIII.  It was something that really caught the Madden community by surprise.  To think that the developer was going to start the ‘hype machine’ wasn’t a shocker… but to see that they had obviously taken the feedback of the community seriously was something new.

The preview pic released during Super Bowl XLIII
The preview pic released during Super Bowl XLIII

Times have since changed.  Ian Cummings is no longer at EA and Josh Looman is largely the go-to guy for all things Madden these days.  Looman had been the guy most of the Franchise Mode fans wanted to talk to about the details within that portion of the game.  Things really seem to have changed in recent years outside of that. The community isn’t anywhere near as active as it was when Cummings was at EA.  Sure, there are still a lot of people that patrol the forums at numerous sites.  Some of those sites tend to take a rather ‘Gestapo’ approach to people that are outraged by Madden and EA in general.  It is apparently bad for business to let people vent their frustrations openly when the developers are so sensitive to the negative feedback.  Yes, it isn’t necessary to have twenty threads of ‘EA Sucks’ and ‘I Hate Madden’ – but it needs to be said that Madden has really taken a few steps back since that time.  So, that leaves a question for this weekend – What Should We Expect To Hear About Madden 15? One of the first things we will likely see is a larger focus on Next-Gen version of the game instead of that for XBox 360 and PS3.  That said, we should probably expect a picture or video of more close-up ‘eye candy’ like player faces (ala – Donovan McNabb in Madden 11).

mcnabb madden 11

The downside of graphics being plastered everywhere is that it means nothing for actual gameplay.  Graphics are much like candy wrappers in that sense.  They catch the eye – but in the end it is all about the contents of what you are consuming.  In this case, Madden is often like black licorice inside a Snickers wrapper (to me anyway).

I expect to hear something about smoother physics from the ‘Ignite’ engine.  More focus probably being put into foot-planting, and some sort of improvement to tackle animations.  Largely, the expectations for the Super Bowl Madden information should be muted simply because they are meant to be more of a hype machine than anything.  I don’t remember the last time I played a sports title… or any game and looked at the player’s face or the towel hanging from his pants.  Some people live for those details – but in all honesty – most gamers just want it to play like football rather than to look like football.

Look for eye-candy from Madden over the next few weeks and months.  Hopefully there will be improvements made for current-gen titles.  Such as better rulings for catches on the sidelines, smarter CPU playcalling, better draft, trade and free agency logic.  Let’s not forget the strange ability for old players to come back and play without having aged a day.  Ray Lewis, Kurt Warner and a few others are examples of this game going further into ‘arcade’ mode.

Then again – that is probably why sales for Madden continue to decline.

Enjoy the Super Bowl!

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XBox One and PS4 – Are Exclusive Titles Still A Selling Point?

On the XBox 360 and PS3 there was the constant bombardment of exclusive titles like Gears of War, Halo and Forza versus Killzone, Resistance, Gran Turismo and for some sports gamers – MLB: The Show.  Now that the next generation of consoles have finally started to become more common in households around the world it is interesting to see that the focus has shifted away from the exclusive titles and more towards the features of the systems themselves.

MGSV
Snake isn’t limited to just Sony consoles these days. But some of his missions are exclusively on one console or the other.

Sure, there are games that XBox One and PS4 have exclusive agreements and rights for, but they aren’t exactly the same type of focus that we saw last generation.  While there are some gamers out there that will have certain games that they simply must have like the Halo or Killzone titles for each respective console… that time is changing.

One of the most obvious changes can be seen in the Metal Gear franchise.  Metal Gear has always been a Hideo Kojima/Konami production.  In saying that – it has also almost always been seen as a Sony Playstation title as well.  Now that they have announced Metal Gear Solid 5 is going to be multi-platform it seems that they are starting to realize that more console availability also means more sales overall.  This isn’t always a blessing as other content within the game will be exclusive to each console.  This is more annoying than anything as it drives many gamers to wonder why they bother spending more and more money on microtransactions.

With multi-platform releases like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Madden NFL and other titles that prefer mass marketing based on volume of sales rather than simply having an agreement with a certain company to release on a specific console.  The one caveat to this is when companies like EA and Activision make agreements (like they did with Microsoft) to release certain downloadable content (DLC) on one console before other another.  This is a practice that is rather insulting to users that buy a game like Battlefield 4 on PS3/4, XBox 360 and especially PC as well as purchasing the $50 ‘Premium’ service.  Primarily because they are being cheated out of content that is obviously available for XBox One users far earlier than anyone else that have purchased the same service for a different platform.

As we enter into a new era of gaming and an eventual move into a focus on digital content, it will be interesting to see how long exclusivity really plays a role in corporate gaming decision making.  As it stands, there are a lot of gamers that are sick of feeling cheated out of their money when it comes to ‘exclusive’ titles and other DLC not being available for whatever reason.

Richard Sherman and Why Madden Needs Emotion

Until something changes with the exclusive NFL License, we will have to assume that Madden is the only option for gamers that want and NFL game.  That said, the crazy post-game interview of Richard Sherman begs the question that is on the minds of many sports gamers.

Sherman

Where is the emotion?

When players in Madden throw big touchdowns there is typically the same canned response and/or animation.  There are some of the typical ‘player specific’ celebrations as well (Dez Bryant, Aaron Rodgers, etc.)

While the NFL is taking out many of the ‘big hits’ and other parts of football that people and players expect – why do we not see more emotion from players on the field?  That goes for frustration as much as anything else.  The quarterback that has thrown four or five interceptions should be noticeably upset.  That goes for receivers dropping balls and running-backs losing fumbles.

While I’m not suggesting that the post-game interviews be presented in some sort of WWE fashion – I am suggesting that Madden adds some depth to their game in this regard.  Players often perform based on the emotion of the moment and that is something that the graphically dead faces of Madden players certainly don’t show.  For that matter – the players typically perform based strictly on ratings so much to a point that the game feels pre-determined.

As we prepare to enter the doldrums of gaming in the first quarter of 2014, we should start looking to the future of gaming (especially sports gaming) and wonder when we will start to see more emotion.

Remember this video?
Remember this video?

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