Greetings Madden NFL fans! I’m Greg Rinaldi, Producer at EA Tiburon, and I recently celebrated my 7 year anniversary here at EA SPORTS. That’s longer than most celebrity marriages and with considerably fewer paparazzi. Just kidding, I love my job – I mean, where else would I get to work with some of the most talented artists, designers and engineers in sports entertainment? If you’ve been keeping up with the other blogs my colleagues have been posting, you can see just how much passion and attention to detail goes into each and every EA SPORTS experience. We love making games more than Tebow loves, well, Tebowing, but more importantly we love experimenting with new and creative ways to bring the excitement of interactive sports to our fans. That’s why I’m so psyched to be able to tell you about Madden NFL 13 Social, an innovative new way to play Madden NFL.
Let’s be honest: nothing quite compares to kicking back in front of your massive flat-screen TV with a controller in your hands, talking smack to your best buddy as you humiliate him in front of his new girlfriend. Well…at least that’s how I played Madden NFL all throughout college. Sure, this was the 90’s, so the TV wasn’t all that massive or flat – the screen was shaped more like my Uncle Tom’s potbelly. These days, I’m finding it harder and harder to get that feeling back, mainly because I have a grown-up job (yes mom, making video games is a real job) and grown-up responsibilities. I lack that precious resource we all yearn for – free time. I get my Madden NFL fix in spurts now; usually when the girlfriend is asleep or whenever else I can sneak away. Like any hobby you’re passionate about, you find a way to make time for it – even if it’s just a few hours a week. The hardest part for me is being able to link up with my friends, college/high school buddies, or work colleagues who enjoy a good scrap on the virtual gridiron. What’s a guy to do when he needs to live out his vicarious sports fantasies? This is exactly where the idea hatched for Madden NFL Social.
My team and I spent months in spirited debate about how to design the perfect Madden NFL experience for the gamer-on-the-go. Guys like us who have jobs, families, and other pressing responsibilities – guys for whom free time is as precious as our first memory of Sunday football with dad. This applies to both casual Madden fans and our most hardcore fans; from the guys who only play on Sundays to those who literally go through withdrawals whenever they’re more than 10 feet away from the console. We knew that we would need to incorporate the authenticity, quality and (most importantly) – the friendly competition that my buddies and I bonded over playing Madden NFL for all those years. It became our focus to create a Madden experience that would bring friends together whenever they don’t have the free time to link up for an hour or so to play head-to-head on a console. That’s precisely what’s at the heart of Madden NFL Social – bonding with the boys and passion for football can now fit neatly into those precious free moments in your day, and best of all – it’s FREE. That’s right, but more on that later…
So you probably want me to cut to the chase and spill the details around exactly what this new Madden NFL game entails. Well, we realized the best way to keep fans connected with their friends and allow them to compete on the go was to create a game that’s always on and always with you. Since lugging your Xbox into an office meeting is not only awkward but unprofessional, we decided to put the game on the devices that most of us are tethered to anyway: smart phones, tablets and laptops. Like a loyal hound, at least one of these devices is always by your side and now you’ll have Madden NFL with you wherever you go. In a nutshell, Madden NFL Social is a cross-platform online game that allows for quick bursts of competitive gameplay no matter where you are or what you (should be) doing. Whether you’re in your cubicle on your PC or kicking back and kicking butt on the couch with your iPad, Madden NFL Social is there – and so are your friends. We christened the game Madden NFL Social because we wanted to ensure your social circle of fellow football fanatics and Madden NFL gamers will always be with you throughout your day.
Our development team has been working harder than the Patriots’ offensive line to deliver the high quality that the Madden NFL franchise has always been known for, and that means we plan to jam a host of awesome features into the game when we launch (with even more to come as regular updates throughout the football season). My fellow producers and I will be posting additional blogs in the weeks to come that will delve much deeper into the details of each of feature. For now, I’ll whet your appetite by giving a very high-level overview of each.
Turn-Based Multiplayer (Crossfire)
The feature at the core of Madden NFL Social is turn-based multiplayer. It’s custom made for people like me, folks with short attention spans and even shorter bursts of free time throughout the day. It’s an innovative new way to play Madden NFL because it focuses the gameplay exclusively around offensive drives. A game plays out like this: you control your offensive drive until you score, or turn over possession – then you pass the game over to your opponent who plays his offensive drive, and this goes back and forth until the game clock runs out. The focus is clearly on offensive gameplay, meaning that each time you play, you’ll have an opportunity to score. Just remember that you’ll compete against your opponent’s computer-controlled defense, and he’ll compete against yours. So having strong defensive players on your roster and a well-rounded defensive playbook will become a very important strategy (see the Team Management feature below).
We want Madden NFL Social to be like the Jerry Rice to your Joe Montana, a wingman that’s there for you whenever you need him. The key to that is to ensure that you can access the game no matter which platform you’re on. This is why Madden NFL Social will be playable on iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, etc) as well as on Facebook. You can use Facebook Connect to find your friends and start games or you can play on mobile without connecting to Facebook. Either way, there are multiple options to track down your old Madden NFL buddies from college and put an old-school whooping on ‘em! If your friends are sore losers and can’t take the heat you’re dishing out, you can always use our matchmaking feature and we’ll match you up with an equally skilled player who’ll give you a run for your money. This is great for any of you who love the rush of competition, as you can have a ton of games going on simultaneously with different people.
Just like in real life, the keys to victory for any NFL team starts with the talent on the field and a strong playbook. That’s why we’re bringing a compelling Team Management feature to Madden NFL Social. Similar to Madden Ultimate Team on console and Madden NFL Superstars on Facebook, Madden NFL Social will feature a card-based team management system. Stocking your team with higher-rated players means a better chance of success when you take the field. In addition to players, you will be able to flesh out both your offensive and defensive playbooks by adding new plays. Because Madden NFL Social is as free as the air you breathe, both player cards and plays can be purchased with coins you’ll earn from competing against other Madden NFL Social players. Of course, if you’re as impatient as I am, you can also opt to buy premium currency which can also be used to purchase card packs and play packs.
A big request we had from players in Madden NFL Superstars was for an Auction House to allow gamers to put player cards up for bids. We definitely heard you and so we’re adding a robust auction feature to the game – minus those gibberish-talking auctioneers you’ve see on Auction Kings. Now, instead of searching for that extremely rare version of Aaron Rodgers in card packs, you can bid on it. The design for the Auction House in Madden NFL Social was influenced by our friends on the FIFA team who introduced auctions into FIFA Ultimate Team on consoles. We’ve made some of our own modifications to the FIFA auction feature that we think will help Madden NFL Social players find the exact player cards they need to boost their team. Stay tuned for many more details on the auction feature.
Much More to Come…
We certainly are not lacking in new ideas for features in Madden NFL Social, so we’re planning to update the game throughout the season with additional features to make sure there’s always something new for you to discover. I can’t talk specifics on this yet, as the details are still being hashed out. It’s safe to say that just like any good NFL coach, we’ll constantly be evaluating our gameplan and making adjustments.