Madden: Is Anyone Surprised?An ex-Madden developer, who recently left EA, put up a series of Tweets that confirm what we already knew: Madden is a hopelessly compromised game. It's tremendously interesting, though, that he broke the Omertà and actually talks about what goes wrong.
The full list of tweets is here (thanks to PastaPadre for gathering the tweets and Jesse Leimkuehler for sending me the link), and it's impossible to pull excerpts from AJ Dembroski's stream of consciousness, but here's the gist: there are brilliant people working on Madden whose work is undone by people in charge who have no idea what they're doing, and the result is a game where lots of the best work gets left on the cutting room floor, so to speak.
Anyone who plays Madden for more than a few hours (and knows football) very quickly realizes that Madden has little bits of brilliance, but the damn game--overall--just never works. It's like an intricate canvas with a gaping hole in the center where the cannonball went through.
Bill Abner can sit down with Madden for five hours and find 90% of what's clearly wrong with the game. Other people can, too, so why can't EA?
Well, according to Dembroski, they can. There are very smart people who know what's wrong, but they can't fight their way past the stupid people to get things done.
Big software companies that are publicly traded are driven by marketing cycles. Period. How many publicly traded software companies can you think of that have a track record of putting out consistently excellent games?
Individual franchises (hello, NHL) can sometimes escape the lessening effect of their corporate overlords, but it's much, much more likely that a franchise becomes something like what Tiburon churns out every year: a hamburger that's perfectly cooked in one spot, frozen in another, and burned in the center.