Tuesday, November 06, 2007

EA Sports and the State of the Franchise

I find it interesting what EA Sports head Peter Moore isn't talking about in his interviews:
Game Informer
Gametap p1
Gametap p2
New York Times

In all of those interviews, the one thing Moore never mentions is quality. Oh, wait--he does mention in one interview that Madden this year received the highest review scores of the last several releases.

We've already talked about sports game reviewers in the past, but suffice to say, when 90% of a review consists of talking points from an EA Powerpoint presentation given to them two months before, the review's probably not worth much. And that's how the vast majority of Madden reviews were written.

Does Peter Moore have any idea that two and a half months after release, Franchise mode in Madden still has a bug that continually shrinks the free agent pool until, in many cases, it simply crashes the Franchise? Is he aware that the number of fumbles in the game is inflated to the point of being ridiculous?

I thought that the free agent pool bug had been patched several weeks ago, but I was incorrect. It's going to be patched. This is a game that grossed $100 MILLION in revenue the FIRST WEEK, and it takes over two months to get a patch. And counting.

It's incredible, really.

NCAA? Good luck with the interceptions--you'll be seeing an average of 5-6 combined per game. Guys will break to the ball when their backs are turned to the ball. It's livable in Superstar mode, but it's infuriating in Dynasty mode.

That game was released in July. Now, FOUR MONTHS later, a patch has been released for the PS3 version which apparently fixes this, but it may not come out for the 360.


How much money do we have to spend to get a game that works? Is sixty dollars not enough?

Then there's NHL. NHL this year is one of the best sports games EA has ever released. The gameplay, while streamlined compared to real hockey, is incredibly fun, the animations are fantastic, the presentation is superb, and there are many, many wonderful touches.

Even Franchise mode has an excellent design--not feature heavy, but most features in a Franchise mode go unused anyway, and this has everything needed to have an excellent experience.

Oh, except that points aren't awarded properly.

The NHL doesn't calculate its standings on pure win/loss records, because it's possible to tie. So two points are awarded in the standings for a win, and one point for each overtime or shootout loss.

In a carryover of a bug from last year, though, sometimes teams are awarded a point for a loss in regulation.

This is just as bad as a football team losing 20-17 and getting credited with a win in the standings. And this is the second year this bug has been in the game.

NHL shipped nearly two months ago, and has this been patched? No.

Is anyone at EA accountable for this? Clearly, Peter Moore isn't--I'd be willing to bet large sums of money that he has no idea any of these issues even exist. So how far down do you have to go in EA's executive chain to find someone who actually realizes that Franchise mode in all of these games is broken?

Who will you be talking to when you find that guy--a janitor?

And why in the world do the seemingly five million people who preview and review sports games never write about this? Why do they never ask these questions? Oh, wait, they do--next year when the Powerpoint presentation gets handed out. That's when they'll say "Um, last year there was a crippling bug that we never mentioned to our readers, because we didn't play the game long enough to find it, but have you guys fixed it?"

"Yes," says EA. "Now, let's look at these slides."

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