The Leadership Changes at Tiburon

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Posted June 17th, 2011 at 1:30 pm

The news broke late last night that Madden NFL executive producer Phil Frazier is departing EA Sports. That has been confirmed today by the company which also noted that Roy Harvey will be taking over the position going forward.

Harvey has been the executive producer on the NCAA Football series and joined the company in 2003. That leaves the NCAA head spot left open and likely to be filled in the near future. This all comes on the heels of Cam Weber taking over as GM of the football products at Tiburon earlier this year and having spoken about “three year plans” and the expectation that the Madden development team will actually be doubled. It can’t help that there is so much unrest at the top along with other less known names that have left recently.

The NCAA series has stayed arguably more consistent than Madden this generation and offered a better feature set (minus the gimmick-heavy years) however has seen less advancement in terms of presentation and gameplay as of late. The series has also been less open in terms of community interaction and social media compared to its Madden counterpart. Though it is impossible to know exactly what influence Harvey had over feature selection and communication levels those things have to be considered when looking at how the change might impact Madden.

Also worth noting in relation to the studio is Jeremy Strauser having left his post as E.P. of EA Sports NBA – which is still just getting off the ground after the studio move – has led to Dale Jackson taking his place. Jackson started with EA Sports in 1995 and comes off having led EA Sports MMA. With no future for that series he was moved over to the sim NBA project.

There is a lot going on at that studio behind the scenes and I’m hearing that more recognizable names may be leaving in the coming months as well. The social gaming boom has apparently made for some very appealing opportunities. There may very well be a disruptive environment at Tiburon causing so many to leave or it could come down to those developers simply looking for a change after many years. At this point it is all up to interpretation and it should be expected that EA will downplay the magnitude of the disruptions regardless.

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  • Anonymous

    All these changes don’t mean anything.  These corporations are well oiled machines and none of these developers were on the level of the guys who left Activision.  They were just drones doing what the corp wanted, and now they are gone the new drones will do the exact same thing.  It’s funny how everyone was cool with crapping on David Ortiz but Ian and Phil have done NOTHING more than what Ortiz produced in a 3 year span and we act like they changed the face of Madden.

    The game has essentially received some graphical and presentation updates, while still lacking on major features demanded by fans (until this year where a few things were brought back).  EA may use all this stuff as an excuse, but in reality all these reports are business as usual.

    If you liked MAdden before you will be good. If you thought it sucked you are going to keep thinking that way. the next guy will be no better or worse than the ones before

    • Anonymous

      I have hope for this new regime of developers and so far madden 12 looks like a big improvement from madden 11 in the most important ways (gameplay and franchise mode). Also Ian and Phil did take A LOT of crap from the community… although they deserve most of it.

    • ……

      Very well said Amen_Ra, and I agree.  Until the top dogs of theses corporations have new mission statements and commitments in the types of games they are creating, anyone who steps into a position below them will have to cooperate with what is asked to be done for their job. It’s another smoke screen to have consumers believe that a company like EA actually cares.

      • Sdot

        EA WIL ALWAYS B EA

        WHETHER DATZ GOOD OR BAD DPENS WHERE U SITN

        • Schoen

          why do you always like your own comments? thats just as pathetic as a comedian laughing at his own jokes.

          • Sdot

            SHEEET UR DUMB DATZ NOT ME (LOOK @ DA NAMES CLOSELY) LIL MAMA

            DATZ SUM1 COMPLETELY DIFF NOT JUMP OFF MY TIP

            U WERE SO QUIK 2 TRY & SUK ME OFF LMAO @ U

    • WildFirexxi

      You’re dumb as fuck if you don’t see a difference between the terrible David Ortiz era games and now.

  • Keith.

    With 6 straight years of declining sales for Madden, no one should be surprised about any of this.  I’m pretty sure these guys were encouraged to leave, rather than leaving on their own.  In either case, I’m certainly a happy camper today with these guys gone.

    • Anonymous

      What makes you think for a second the next guys are going to be any better. more than likely they will promote from within and the next group will be the underlings of the dudes who just left.  Just like what happened with these two.  In-game saves will show up the minute EA decides to put it in, not these corny developers.

    • Family Guy

      Madden’s sales on 360/PS3 did not decline for 6 straight years. That information is false. They may have had a decline in total profit over some of those years, but Madden 11 is the first year where the final sales numbers fell hard, dropping around 600,000 units. That’s where people shouldn’t be surprised, because one bad year like that can mean the end of your job at a company. It also didn’t help them that Madden 10 only outsold 09 because of an expensive promo push, one that stockholders publicly exploded over.

      • Keith.

        Saying that 360 or PS3 numbers went up is irrelevant. Bottom line sales numbers are what count, and they’ve gone from 7-8 million sold to 5. Expenses haven’t gone down during this period, if anything they’ve gone up. Way up, once you factor in the exclusive licenses. It’s really small consolation that 360/PS3 sales went up (not close to the proportion of new consoles sold, mind you).

        • Have to keep in mind though that they’re raking in digital $$$s through Ultimate Team and DLC, also other offerings such as Facebook and iPhone have proven successful. I’m not sure its realistic to expect the pure sales numbers at the peak of the last gen to be matched this gen.

          • Keith.

            They have for NBA2k and FIFA.

          • huh?

          • Keith.

            Pasta had said, in reference to Madden, “I’m not sure its realistic to expect the pure sales numbers at the peak of the last gen to be matched this gen.”

            And I said, for NBA2k and FIFA, the sales numbers have gone up.

          • Liquidgold

            Have to keep in mind they pay out the ass for an exlusive license and can’t keep things going good even with that massive edge over every other football game.

        • forty six & 2

          First of all, “saying 360 or PS3 numbers went up is irrelevant” is quite the opposite because you said they went down. That makes you incorrect and that is very relevant. Second, if you’re implying that EA is hurting when it comes to the bottom line, you’re mistaken. The company is completely liquid and is ranked sixth on a list of companies with the most cash assets. After a nearly 11% share increase in 2009, it fell 7% in 2010, that includes the Madden 11 failure and NBA Elite debacle. We won’t know how the 2011 numbers play out, but indications are that EA will rebound quite nicely. Even if they don’t dip (which would take another NBA Elite-like disaster), the company is still so far in the black it could afford another bad year of Madden sales. Do some research.

          • Keith.

            First, I was talking about the numbers across all platforms. What difference does it make if 360 numbers are up slightly (which wasn’t the case this year) if total sales across all platforms are way down? I’ll answer: none.

            Second, you’re the one who should do some research, if you think EA is “so far in the black” that it can afford to see Madden’s numbers continue to go down every year. Weren’t you around when EA was announcing billion (with a “B”) dollar losses, and laying off hundreds of employees? You need to read something other than your Game Changer newsletters.

          • Keith.

            First, I was talking about the numbers across all platforms. What difference does it make if 360 numbers are up slightly (which wasn’t the case this year) if total sales across all platforms are way down? I’ll answer: none.

            Second, you’re the one who should do some research, if you think EA is “so far in the black” that it can afford to see Madden’s numbers continue to go down every year. Weren’t you around when EA was announcing billion (with a “B”) dollar losses, and laying off hundreds of employees? You need to read something other than your Game Changer newsletters.

        • Family Guy

          Sorry Keith, some of what you’re saying are common misconceptions. Sales alone–while obviously extremely important–are not the bottom line. Profits are king. While sales account for market share, a company can deal with losses there if they turn a larger profit than before, hence this generation’s lower software sales totals for a number of franchises being absorbed by the higher price of said software. Also, DLC has made it possible for franchises like Madden to have backup profits streaming in when the main game’s sales lag. As a good example, Madden Ultimate Team has been a big money maker for Madden.

          I never said 360 or PS3 numbers have gone up or down, so I have no idea what you’re referring to there. When you mention Madden’s sales going from 7-8 million to lower now, you’re probably talking about the last gen era of PS2/XBOX. Thing is, you can’t compare that era to now, because the PS2 user base was far larger than the PS3’s and XBOX 360’s is this generation. The PS2 alone sold over 150 million units, whereas the PS3 and 360 combined don’t even come close to that number. So when considering software sales, you have to compare the number based on the console’s user base. With the PS3/360’s base, 5 million is wildly successful. That said, Madden 11 failed to crack 5 million this year, so I find it amusing that people are shocked that all of these top brass guys are gone.

  • Kabb

    Thanks for all the inside info Pasta. If it wasnt for here we really wouldnt know what was going on. 

  • i see this as good if he can bring the gameplay of ncaa over to madden then EA will FINALLY have a 60 dollar MADDEN 
    the things i like in ncaa that should be brought over 
    the ability to actually throw a pass over the shoulder and over the defender 
    defenses actually catch easy INTs and drop the OVER the shoulder 720 1 handers 
    being able to actually sack the QB in superstar mode  

  • Alexer

    Maybe Madden will finally get Season Showdown now!!! Really not encouraged knowing its just the NCAA guy. They havent even touched commentary with that game in years.

  • Dymez

    Phil put in some major work on Madden this year, so it’s pretty sad to see him go right now before seeing how this year’s numbers and critiques will be for ’12.  But at the same time NCAA has been the better football game for the past few years.  The Madden franchise has been so close to bringing an unbelievable game to the market, and with the hiring of Harvey, this may give the franchise the ‘umph’ that it needs to be that great of a gaming experience.

  • Skihawks

    People act like these departures will sink Madden. These guys didnt invent Madden. There is always people out there who have the ability to build on the foundation that is there.

    However I have no issues with anyone from the NCAA team taking over. NCAA has been the better game by far this generation. I would argue that NCAA has always played a little better than Madden.

    Either way EA will not let Madden crash and burn.

  • llane27

    people have only liked ncaa because its been better then madden not because its been really good

    • SilkCB21

      i hated NCAA compared to Madden…only thing thats fun in NCAA is online dynasty if ur playing with max amount of ppl

  • Steelcity808

    So when will EA admit that 2K Sports is better at making games and just step down already? I love the NBA 2K series and how realistic they made dynamic player influence. I vote 2K Sports for the Madden franchise!!

  • Scottyo614

    Honest question… am I the only one who hates social gaming/never played it because I think it is incredibly stupid?

    • Sure

      Social games as in Facebook and Little wierd creature games, I think are stupid. But you can play whatever you want. Social gaming as in Online 360 PS3 I love when it’s sports games or fps. Really a matter of taste. I have mixed feelings about PhIl and Ian leaving. I haven’t been around for a while and although Madden could have been a lot better I see the graphics getting better each year. So I like that. I Hate waiting for people to play games and get annoyed with ignorant people online talking. So I play ranked with my mic off and my games take a MIN to start up. But franchise could have been better. Although I don’t make games and they have a 1 year deadline. Maybe if the developers made it more obvious they can only do so much in a year, people would be more understanding. Or maybe that wasent even the problem. I dont care to act like I know everything. Whatever is goin on I have no idea But these internet people will tell you how life works.

      • Scottyo614

        I guess it’s how you look at it. Like I don’t consider a FPS or sports game really social. I get in and get out. I could care less if I’m invited to a team or not. I get people like my dad who is obsessed with zenga (sp?) poker on facebook or a person who plays farmland I just see it as almost pointless. Plus the facebook network includes so many fake profiles now I see my dad who has this hot girl add to be his poker buddy and all I do is shake my head at it. One would think this fad dies here in the next few years?

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  • Samutuck

    I just hope they come out with a good basketball game in 2013 to rival 2k.

  • Hawkeye4077

    We can only wait and see if these changes in personal will actually produce a better product. I think that it’s time to bring in some new minds in hopes that the development of the product will improve. There’s no guarantee that the next team will do any better than the previous one, but considering the pace at which this game has developed, and I use that term loosely, they can’t do much worse. 

    At this point, who doesn’t know about Madden? You can say that the gimmicks and lack of attention to creating a sim gameplay is all part of this corporate plan to keep the game appealing to the masses, but if someone is just a casual football gamer, they’re not buying the new game year after year anyway. If you’re not really a football guy, you’re probably still playing Madden 08. 

    I think they’re starting to see the effects of neglecting the real football gaming fans. They’re seeing the comments and videos bashing their product. They’re seeing what was once a clear cut inferior product (NCAA Football) become on par with the Madden Machine and damn near close to surpassing it. If they have any pride whatsoever, it has to be troubling that their game is still being measured against a football game over half a decade old (2K5).

    That being said, maybe all this is still yet another gimmick to make us think they’re going to improve and buy themselves 3 more years of “next year”. No matter what, I still don’t think we’ll have a true sim football game until EA is no longer the only NFL licensed company. With no competition, there’s no real incentive for them to get better. All we can do is hope 

  • Rm7280

    Phil was useless, EA owns Tiburon, so dont expect anything different in the near future. They r already admitting they can do nothing till PS4, that will mark 10 years between real substantial changes, paralleling the PS3’s life cycle

  • gunner

    bottom line the madden franchise as a whole has taken a step backwards this generation compared to other generations.  For example why did it take six years in the 360 generation to get grass stained jerseys.  Remember how robust franchise used to be with the Tony Bruno show?  Again it took them six years to make that happen.  Not to mention the in game commentary is about as good as it was in Madden 04.  I for one am glad all the Madden Brass is moving on.  People will look back at what a bust Madden was on this generation under their regime regardless how anyone wants to spin it. 

  • SilkCB21

    I SHOULD BE ON THE MADDEN BOARD LOL