2K Football Announcement Coming? – The E3 Rumor Mill In Full Swing

Every year in late-May and early-June we start hearing buzz about new games that will be or might be unveiled at E3.  (E3 is the Electronic Entertainment Expo held in Los Angeles, CA annually.)  It is much like the time leading up to the NFL Draft where there are so many rumors and baseless suggestions that you don’t know what to believe or who has the ‘inside track’.

2K_Sports_LogoThis year there are a few titles that are supposedly being shown at E3 in hopes that they will capture the next-gen console audience’s hearts and minds.  Some of these titles include Halo 5, Rockstar Games’ Agent and one game that a niche group of sports gamers have been longing for since 2008 – 2K Football.

Every year there is hope injected in the football gaming community that there will finally be some sort of football game released that isn’t made by EA Sports and that isn’t called ‘Madden’.  There have been a few youtube videos with people saying that they have ‘a feeling’ that there will be a new 2K football title unveiled at E3 this year.

It is something that I almost always have high hopes for when it comes this close to football season.  It seems that my hopes (and those of the sim football gaming community) are always dashed by the time E3 is over.  Hopefully the rumor mill will prove to be correct this time around.

That said – there is no official news one way or the other about a 2K Football title as of yet.  If there does happen to be an announcement, it will have to be a far deeper game than All Pro Football 2K8 was back in 2007.  Keep your attention focused towards legitimate news and releases as we get closer to E3.  The rumors will only get more ridiculous between now and then.

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Is Madden NFL Still Relevant?

maddensuckage

This is one of the more risky topics I have covered for the sake of this site and the popularity of all of my Madden NFL coverage in recent years.  That being said – I am having a difficult time these days wanting to write or cover any sort of news from the Madden NFL front, let alone anything positive about the series.  It has been a journey of ups and downs covering EA’s football games and it has finally come to a point where I am questioning whether this title is worth anything more than obligatory coverage for the sake of web traffic.

It Is The Same Game – Every. Single. Year.

Madden doesn’t change.  There are roster updates and a few tweaks to gameplay, sure.  I don’t expect Madden to become a baseball game or something either.  While continuity and general similarities should be expected in a sports title I can’t help but wonder where the innovation has been over the last decade.  The last Madden game that really changed anything was Madden 2005 and that was the hit-stick that does nothing but aesthetic value for hits that cause no real injuries to occur (most likely because the NFL demands that such ‘violence’ not be realistically put into the game).

People Still Talk About NFL 2K5

Nothing should make a developer more upset than people still preferring another title that hasn’t existed for ten years over their current game.  While NFL 2K has a cult following among a relatively small group of sports gamers, it is still worth pointing out that not only do they exist, but they are quite devoted to never buying a Madden game.  Even if we were to look at All Pro Football 2K8 from this perspective.  It still holds up to the improved graphics and physics of Madden because it plays like a real football game.

EA Sports and the NFL Hold Madden Back

This might be the biggest issue that causes Madden to be such a dull experience.  EA Sports has exclusive rights to create the NFL in video game format for consoles.  This means that their goal has nothing to do with the game being innovative or realistic.  It has everything to do with the bottom line and whether or not profit is being obtained annually.  While this is clearly the goal of any ‘successful’ business, it remains to be seen where this will ever lead to any real innovation in the future.

The NFL has come under fire in recent years for concussions and injuries from the danger of playing football.  Rather than coming out and saying that the game has risks and standing firm on the grounds of the game, they have bowed under the pressure of lawsuits that have started to slowly ruin the game.  We have gotten to a point where in Madden, they can’t allow realistic injuries to occur because the NFL doesn’t want to market that aspect of the game for fear of being sued some more.  It is a farce and the political correctness is hurting the game on consoles and on the field.

The Community Is Dying A Slow Death

Madden 10 was the last time I was truly excited about a Madden title; and it was also the last time I pre-ordered the game.  The interaction with Ian Cummings and Co. made me feel like I actually had a stake in the game before it was released.  They took the opinions of sim sports gamers seriously and really tried to make the game realistic.  To their credit, they did make a damn good game that year.  There were a lot of signs that started to point in the direction of Madden becoming truly innovative and a game for ‘real football fans’.  That died in Madden 11 and 12 as EA tried to once again dumb down the game for ‘casual gamers’.  Again, it was and will always be about the bottom line rather than innovation.

The aspect that EA seems to have forgotten is that the sports gaming community is their primary ‘Day One’ sales target.  In this regard, they have been losing more and more customers over the last four years because they have taken away those interactions and decided to make the same game every year.  Madden 13 and Madden 25 are virtually the same game.  The commentary is the same garbage and the terrible gameplay and AI is still there.  The CPU still calls a timeout when they have the ball at the 1:01 mark and they still call the same pathetic plays at the end of close games.

Do you really think that this would be the case if there were some sort of competition?  Better yet, do you think these issues would still be around if EA still took an active approach to seeking the input of the consumer?

Where do you stand?  Are you sick of Madden yet?  Are you still playing and older version or a 2K title?

Comment below.

What Does The Madden Name Change Mean?

What’s in a name?  Apparently EA Sports thinks the 25th anniversary of Madden is deserving of a trip to the social security office for a tweak in the name.

Madden 14 Pic

Madden 25 was just announced to be the official name of the only NFL game coming out this year (just like it has been since Madden 06).  The only thing that might have made people happy was hearing that the developer was working on Madden 2K14.  Keep dreaming.

Chances are good that Madden 25 will also signify a change-over in consoles just like the switch from Madden 2005 to Madden 06 also greeted the next hardware generation.  The idea of a new console is always exciting because of the possibilities in graphics and physics; but if one thing is certain we can expect one thing to dull our expectations for new software – bare bones games.

Madden 25 for the XBox 360 and PlayStation 3 will most likely prove to be another slight tweak or change from Madden 13.  Maybe there will be a few new animations or the ball will be a shade darker or smaller.  Otherwise, you shouldn’t expect much to change.  The new consoles that are rumored to be coming out this Christmas will most likely be priced between $400 and $500 with a pipe-dream hope of $300.  The unfortunate truth is that most of the games that will be released with the consoles will be bare bones in their offerings.  If you played Madden 06 or any of the other games that came out with the current generation you will notice how lacking they are in features.  Also, many of them don’t take advantage of the graphical capabilities of the console.

This isn’t a complaint at all.  It is merely a point to be raised in order to lower expectations for the next generation.  Not to mention the cynical view that Madden hasn’t changed many things in the 25 years it has existed.

Would love to hear from the fan boys out there.  2K and Madden alike.

Keep it civil.

It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp – EA Sports Loses $27 Million In Class Action Suit

As we approach the launch of Madden 13 it should be noted that EA Sports still has exclusive rights to the NFL license.  There are a few things in gaming that truly drive innovation and the primary motivating factor is true competition.  EA has found out the hard way that monopolizing the market to fix prices is the wrong way to go about this not only with fans of sports gaming, but now with the Federal Court system.

It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp

For a detailed run-down of the decision check out this article at Kotaku.

If you want the real moral of the story, it is that EA Sports will be banned from exclusive deals ONLY with NCAA Football and Arena Football League.  Which in all honesty is simply a slap on the wrist.  The real competition they faced was from 2K in the NFL 2K series.

What this really means is that you shouldn’t hold out hope that 2K (or any other developer) will get a chance to make an NFL game.  However, if they do get that chance, it will probably be on the next generation of consoles (if ever).

What about the Class Action Lawsuit?

In terms of what you ‘get’ out of it…  $2 for any 360, Wii or PS3 American Football Title (AFL, Madden, NCAA) and just under $7 for PS2, Gamecube and XBox games that came out after 2005.

Bottom Line

EA Sports is being hit where it counts – the wallet.  This isn’t the type of punch in the face that knocks them out of Exclusive Rights in sports gaming, but it is a sign that what they have been doing isn’t right.  EA has potential to make some of the best sports games out there and when they had to fight against NFL 2K5 it was the best iteration of Madden (2005) ever.

Analogy Time

In 2005 it was like watching Rocky 2.  Two developers were busting their asses trying to prove that they had the best game out there.  In the end you see both of them fall to the ground in the last few seconds.  2K5 came out with a great game for $20 and after seeing this, EA released Madden for $30 rather than $50.  EA came out on top and then just like Rocky they were the world champs.

Then after 2005, EA Sports turned into Rocky in Rocky 3.  They got lazy and lost a lot of their motivation to train hard.  They started doing stupid promotions and simply got full of themselves because everyone they would fight would be a push-over (if there was anyone to fight).

The biggest fear that EA has right now is for a game like NFL 2K to come back around like Clubber Lang and “crucify them, real bad.”

While it seems that we might not like EA Sports games… it is to the contrary.  We love EA Sports titles, but we loved them more when they were trying harder.  It isn’t fair to EA Sports that they have no competition, it makes them look soft and it prevents them from improving.  We want to see a good fight between developers that makes us get excited again.