TAILS: Madden Challenged

Ed’s Note: Written by Drew Norton

Aw yeah, it’s that time of year again. Are you ready for some VIRTUAL FOOTBALL?!

Madden 2011 was released last Tuesday and, just like every year, game designers who don’t work for EA are crying buckets into their pillows.

For those of you who don’t know, the Madden Football series is a series of videogames released every year since 1988. I’m not joking. This game is older than I am. It’s a powerhouse in the gaming industry and a benchmark for every other sports game on the market (except Mario Kart.)

Really, where would we be without John Madden Football? Playing Tecmo Bowl? Come on, who played Tecmo Bowl (even though people are still playing it after over twenty years and it was just re-released with 3-D characters)? Outrageous! A lot has changed since 1988, however. Game systems are no longer measured in bits. There isn’t a Bush in the White House. Janet Jackson is now the talented one by default. Is it justifiable to release a new game every year in the Internet age? Is the new Madden game worth it?

To answer this question, I need to get some biases out of the way. This is going to come up at some point, so I just want to give you guys all of the information: I hate EA. EA the biggest publisher of video games in the industry and I hate them. I hate them with a fiery passion. Electronic Arts is the devil. They are the Sith lords of the video game world. They make The Combine look like Alf. They rove around the gaming landscape, sucking up developers and then sucking them dry until they just plain suck. There is no joy in them, no heart. They’re like a giant black obsidian monolith that blocks the light and kills a beautiful rainforest full of adorable monkeys with gum-drop smiles. There are many, many reasons to hate them, but in the context of Madden the reason they are awful is that they bought the license to every NFL team ever. This makes it impossible for any other game developers to make a football game with real players without EA suing them until they die a horrible, legislative death. So I might be a little biased against them.

On the other hand, I don’t really hate the Madden games in particular. It’s boring to me, but that’s about it. Still, I wonder why they feel the need to release a game every year. All they do is add tiny updates to a game which has gone essentially unchanged since 1997.

This year they’ve apparently made it easier for noobs to pick it up and play. There’s dual stick play and 3-on-3 online. They’ve updated the rosters and stats, like they do every year. This is all very nice and I’m sure Madden heads are pissing themselves, (with anger. How dare they make it accessible?!) but why couldn’t this be released as DLC?

Downloadable content is the fastest growing market in the industry. Rockband has made over a billion dollars in revenue on DLC alone since it’s release. A billion. With a ‘B’. That’s ridiculous and those numbers are from around this time last year. If they released updated player stats throughout the year as updates and then released rosters, new modes and tweaks as DLC, they’d cut down on shipping costs, the cost of the disks and the cost of paying some asshole to be on the cover and then be cursed into obscurity. It just doesn’t make any sense to release a yearly full-priced deal.

All I ask is that they think about it. Of course they won’t because they’d rather rake in their motherload once a year than have a stead trickle of income throughout. They whip fan boys into such a frenzy that they’re willing to buy the same game every year until they die. It’s sad, really. Now who’s ready for the next Call of Duty game?!

TAILS: An Introduction

Ed’s Note: Last week I received this email from a UO student who wanted to write for the blog. He wrote: “I think topics less about physical prowess and more about things that rarely get people laid are really my area of expertise. You guys cover athletes, I cover mathletes. It’s just an idea I had and I would love to here what you think.” Unconventional, but I love it. I’ll let Drew Norton introduce himself.

Everyone loves sports. Fact. The first thing humans did after they learned to stand was learn how to kick stuff into other stuff. Then they grunted sounds that probably sounded like “ball” and “goal” and “in your face, bitch” and sports were born. They’re the spirit of competition, a celebration of physicality and a celebration of everything that’s good in society. These posts will not be about that.

Jocks, please refrain from shoving Drew into a locker.

I, Drew Norton, know next to nothing about sports. I know how to score points in most of them. I know the penalties. If someone yells about three in a key, I can yell along with them without glancing around awkwardly for an answer to what that means. When it comes to commentary, though, I’m hopeless; utterly, completely, Glenn-Beckianly hopeless. Was it a good choice for Chip Kelly to get rid of Masoli? I’m going to go with yes because of the robbery and pot charges. That’s about all I’ve got.

At this point, I’m sure you’re wondering (and rightly so, sir) why I’m a contributor to a blog about the University of Oregon Ducks — “OOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Sorry, force of habit. Why indeed? Well, when Keith scoured the vast and empty wastelands that are the Internets, he found me like Kal-El in a cornfield (That‘s a Superman joke. It‘s his Kriptonian…never mind). When he showed me this blog, I felt that, even with the integrity it obviously had, it needed something else. Some spice. Some pizzazz. Some glitter glue. That spicy, pizzazzy, glitter glue is the glue of context. It is irresponsible if not impossible to have this much testosterone in any part of the Internet, much less the blogosphere, without incorporating a small man who could be crushed by the sheer weight of the biceps sported by his sportier compadres. That small man is me. I’m here to bring the other side of the coin (get it now?) and give a nerd’s perspective on what’s happening at the U and in Eugene at large.

I know what you’re saying. “I still don’t get it.” Shhhhhhhhhh my little darlings. All will be revealed in time, like a Shyamalan movie that isn’t The Happening or that Airbender debacle. It’s pronounced Ang! Say the letter ‘A’ and ‘ng’! They say it in the show M.! Sorry again. I may or may not have blog-tourettes. Really what I’m trying to do here is introduce myself, my style and what kind of content you’re likely to see in the coming months. I hope you will enjoy it more than I will enjoy writing it.