Ask Padre #3: Why does Madden lack the presentation everyone wants?

Posted April 22nd, 2007 at 10:28 am

For years now many fans of the Madden franchise (as well as other EA Sports titles) have felt that the biggest area the game is lacking in is its presentation. This especially came about after NFL 2K5 had the ESPN presentation that so many enjoyed. When EA Sports bought the ESPN license, many fans assumed that it meant they had the same ideas in mind for Madden. However EA has not utilized the ESPN license in that fashion.

So if the fans are asking for that style of presentation, why hasn’t EA gone that direction? There are viable reasons, whether people want to accept them or not. Whether it will remain the case for the future is unknown, but up until this point it has been seen as either unnecessary or not possible due to the multiple contracts they have secured.

The first major roadblock comes with the legalities of the contracts that EA is held to. EA has obtained both the ESPN license and the NFL license. ESPN would like to be used in a way to promote their brand. The NFL would like the NFL Network to be used in that same way. Those two conflict with each other as they are competing networks. So the NFL would not be happy to have ESPN be used heavily for presentation, just as ESPN would not want to see the NFL Network be used in that same way. It’s a sticky situation which isn’t dealt with as easily as the consumers would assume. If it was as simple as just deciding to use ESPN for the presentation, that would’ve been done already.

So when you consider that problem, it also factors into the current EA Sports style presentation that is used in the games. EA sees themselves as being a brand that has established itself over many years. It is something they envision improving on to the point where they can satisfy the consumers expectations. It may not have the specific TV network representation or style that fans of the sports identify with, but if it works what is there to gain by completely scrapping that to go to something else? Time wise also it simply isn’t possible to incorportate a brand new game wide level of presentation in just one year.

The other thing to think over is how important presentation really is. While there is a group of people who find it critical, the majority likely does not. Cut scenes may be entertaining the first few times, however most people end up eventually skipping them. A lot of people love TV style presentation, however others feel that the purpose of the game is that they are playing it and not watching it. Overall presentation really is a secondary level to a game, it can enhance it but it can’t make or break it.

Essentially there isn’t much to gain by completely changing the presentation in the games. More likely than a complete change to an ESPN or NFL Network style of TV presentation, you’ll see those two licenses being used in different aspects of the game and for more unique sitations. Unless there is some sort of resolution to the legal issues don’t expect to see a complete shift in the way EA titles are presented on the field.