With the Madden cover now in the sure hands of Calvin Johnson (apologies to all Lions fans), I thought it would be fitting to discuss the improvements EA Sports needs to make for it’s upcoming release of the popular video game. Sure, die-hard football fans will flock to the nearest store and buy a copy in August, but how can EA keep these fans from becoming disinterested and also bring in a bigger casual audience? EA is already hard at work to improve this year’s edition, and have already made Madden dreams come true by taking Cris Collinsworth out of the game. There is still plenty of work to be done, however, and here are 10 things they can do to make Madden NFL 13 one of the best yet.
Improve the game day presentation, make it feel real
This is one of the biggest things that can be done to draw in the casual football fan but make hardcore fanatics wet their pants with excitement. EA Sports has to make the game presentation completely bland so it doesn’t resemble watching a game on any of the major networks. Madden has the full NFL license, so why not take advantage and get NFL Network into the game? For example, you’re playing and exciting first half of football when halftime comes about. You can sit at the main menu and look at stats or even replay any play. That’s all well and good, but how about cutting to Rich Eisen, Mike Mayock, Steve Mariucci and Deion Sanders in the NFL Network studios for an analysis of the first half? Sanders can rant about the ineptitude of a defense, or Mariucci can praise your quarterback for throwing three touchdowns. Highlights can be shown and the crew can talk about what each team needs to do in the second half to win. A quick thirty second breakdown is all that’s needed, and can easily be done with the powerful engines of the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.
Sorry, EA, but your post-game cut scenes are terrible. Everyone knows at the end of the game when coaches go to greet each other they’re surrounded by security, media and players. What the current edition of Madden has is a couple of scattered players here and there and a quarterback jumping to high five a fan, no matter what quarterback it is. Let’s crowd the field with all the players from both sides and a little huddle of cameras and microphones around the coaches as they say hi. Also, how about some off-setting penalties? Whenever there’s a holding call, I know I can easily get away with a pass interference or roughing the passer because it won’t be called, and let’s be honest, it’s fun to put a quarterback on his butt without the refs saying anything. This is not how the NFL conducts it’s business, however, so let’s, “Protect the players,” and penalize people for their actions. Last, but definitely not least, find a way to get Bill Belichick in the game. His scowl in a hoodie needs to be featured in every one of New England’s games, but instead we’re left with a bland, “NE Head Coach.”
Improve the NFL Draft
This is where the biggest football fans will get the most enjoyment. EA does a great job in allowing you to transfer players from your NCAA Football dynasty to your Madden dynasty every season you go through. In the most recent installment of each game, however, EA dropped the ball. NCAA Football would ask you twice if you wanted to export your players to Madden, and if you said yes the first time, your players weren’t transferred correctly. Once you did get them to madden successfully, several rookies would come out so strange it made you want to start your dynasty over. Wide receiver Justin Blackmon would appear to have bone-thin arms and overly huge shoulder pads, while punter Drew Butler would have the arms of a UFC heavyweight fighter. Or, Matt Barkley’s profile picture would turn out to be some scrawny guy with brown hair. It ruins the authenticity and makes one think, “Yeah, that’s not really Blackmon,” when he’s running over the middle and his shoulder pads are bigger than Ndamukong Suh’s thighs.
For aesthetics in the Draft, how about some more pre-draft hype? Maybe some mock drafts while you’re conducting combine workouts or rumors that certain teams will trade up to get a specific player because they have a huge need. All of that could appear simply in a small news portion of the off-season, and could even change your strategy if you realize you’re in a competition to draft a certain guy.
Adjust player proportions and progression
Certain players look way too big for their actual size. Quarterbacks like Rodgers or Alex Smith look like linebackers when shown in suits during a cut-scene. I’m glad most players have a striking resemblance in the game, but not every single one of them needs to look like an action figure. If EA is going to continue down this path, at least let the user edit the physical features of each player.
As far as progression goes, it’s unfortunate that if a player is given a B potential, he could never be more than an 89 overall. You could start Javon Ringer and give him record breaking season’s, but he’ll never be the best running back in the league unless you go in and change his attributes. There is no comeback player of the year for a guy who shouldn’t have a good season season but does, because the following year he’ll have stayed on the plateau EA has given him. This goes for rookies too. Not every late round pick is going to be a D or F potential. This doesn’t allow for players like Tom Brady or Marques Colston to come into the league, since being drafted so late means you’re nothing but free agency filler. Users should be allowed to take a player and develop him in practice, pre-season and regular season to mold him into the player they wanted from the beginning. Players should be rewarded with improvement for career high statistics. Make it happen, EA.
Drastically change superstar and create modes
NCAA Football has a great version of this mode where you take a player and make him earn everything from his starting position to the ability to audible at the line of scrimmage. You start off as a backup, and have to practice your butt off to earn a starting spot. In order to keep that job, you have to work meticulously to be near flawless. In Madden’s superstar mode, the player automatically gets a starting position and while playing the entire time forgets to do it’s job, taking the enjoyment out of playing. This can easily be tweaked to have a player actually want to compete, win and become a true superstar.
Creating a team, player or stadium should be all about customization to the very last detail. In previous Madden entries, gamers could edit a player’s hair, face, body type, height and weight. Now, you should consider yourself lucky that you could give a player a choice of gloves. As far as teams go, Madden should adopt something similar to what it’s younger brother, NCAA football, has; an online creation tool. If EA won’t provide better logos for created teams, let the customer upload or create their own image and create their team around that. This shouldn’t be too hard as Nike has recently become the provider for NFL uniforms, and you know how thrilled they are with making crazy uniforms. The create-a-stadium mode is nice, but stadiums should have more options as well. You can’t create a new stadium for a team in franchise mode without relocating the franchise, and that’s just dumb. What about teams with old or terrible stadiums? What if a user wants to have the 49ers play in their new stadium down the line?
Actually test the game before rushing it out
How many flaws were pointed out in this blog? Quite a few, I know. Now, how many of those flaws could have been corrected before the game was even shipped by simply testing it out? Yes, EA, I’m asking you grab a couple of guys, sit them down and play through a few years of franchise mode, superstar mode and online matchups to see how you can improve things. Let go of the, “We’re the only studio officially licensed by the NFL so people have to buy it,” mentality and make a game you’re proud of. How amazingly detailed are your other games, like Mass Effect or Crysis? Those games are built from the ground up, yet this one already has the groundwork laid and just needs tweaking or cleaning up. Football is arguably the most popular sport in the United States, yet Madden NFL is not even the best sports game out there as FIFA (also an EA Sports game) NBA 2K and MLB The Show pound Madden into the dirt. If the game were properly tested and fixed, it’s sales would exceed anything EA Sports could have imagined. EA, make more improvements than what you have, for both your sake and the fans.