Why is Madden Still $60?

Precursor note: This has nothing to do with yearly updates or “it’s always the same.” There’s more to it than that.

We were told that game development is getting expensive. It’s more difficult to make games, it takes bigger teams, and sky-high budgets. That’s why video games are $60.

But why Madden? Sales dropped 10% from the 2009 edition to 2010, but is it because of the price, or have people wised up?

Playing Madden 11 pre-release for a review irked me. I made it into the red zone, Jay Cutler providing an epic 90-yard drive Bears fan could only dream about, and the Old Spice whistle jingle played. The company logo appeared on screen. New commentator Gus Johnson feverishly provided the corporate line, more enthusiastically than he does on any incredible play. He apparently likes Old Spice more than a 100-yard kick-off return.

There’s more though. Fans outside the stadium have their Doritos lined up very precisely on a table outside their mobile home, and the company provides the play of the game during a very brief post-game wrap-up. Verizon sponsors drive wrap-ups, even during AFL games. Why go through the trouble of making a vintage “film” filter, complete with scratches and sepia tones, if you’re going to ruin the entire thing with Verizon ads? Maybe Joe Horn was onto something.

Still, after $60, they still want more, the concept of “Madden coins” a paid for service that lets you boost your players or teams stats. Here’s an idea: How about giving players Madden coins when they have to endue the same Old Spice ad for the 10th time in a game? Also, don’t the ads pay for the online play, yet we’re being charged for that if we buy the game used? Don’t used buyers see the same ads?

Maybe sales dropped because we’re tired of being treated like idiots. Gamers have turned into fodder, something these massive companies can latch onto and continually pull in bonuses from. The combination of Doritos, Verizon, and Old Spice is enough to cover one year of development. That is prime real estate and the exact demographic they want. Don’t believe for a second profit is an issue.

More disgusting? Not a single developer is credited anywhere on the box or in the manual, even with a logo. You have to dig to find that information buried in the menu.

But what of the realistic experience? Surely those ads create the air of authenticity, and really the only thing missing are pop-ups for upcoming TV programming. That’s fine actually. Sports games should have ads, assuming the product is going to a TV-style presentation, and not many try for anything else.  However, that product should then not cost full price.

Can anyone believe the advertising is not off-setting significant amounts of the cost to make the product, especially when it comes to yearly sequels?

  • Tim

    You are being willfully obtuse. It's not about advertising offsetting costs, its about advertising INCREASING PROFITS! Yes, it COULD reduce the cost of the game, but just like Cable TV ('commercial free' because you pay a subscription fee, remember?) they quickly realized instead of reducing costs the advertising could increase profits. DUH, dude. This is a company, this is ELECTRONIC FREAKING ARTS, of course they are going to rip you for every damned cent.

  • gamereviewgod

    You're not seeing the point. The question is how the end consumer perceives these ads, and whether or not the person paying sees the value in being relentlessly advertised to. How long is it before the mainstream catches on that price COULD be lowered?

  • Anonymous

    Good comment. I agree with everything except Game flow.

    Unlike Ask Madden, there is a very deep back end going on with Game flow. You can adjust for a variety of situations, far more stuff than Ask Madden ever took into account. It’s very customizable to suit your play style when you want it to be; it just takes time.

  • Mike Freeman

    Just got the game today and played it for a bit. And even though this post isn't about “it's the exact same” I'm gonna bitch about that for a second if you don't mind. Over the last few releases, they've changed a couple of things here and there, but they are just changing things, not making it better. None of the new additions to the game do anything to enhance the gaming experience.

    I find it very annoying that the “game flow” is the exact same as “ask madden” (or whatever it was called) now instead of it giving you 3 options, it gives you 1 play and then you get some annoying northern accent dude talking into your ear.

    The ads are very annoying and the product placement is lazy. The cut scene where the guy is cooking hot dogs is literally the very same cut scene as the previous year, now they've just added a bad of doritos. That single point proves what my theory is. That EA spent more time on developing sponsorship opportunities than on making the game better.

    Also, I'm not sure if this is a singular experience or others are having the same issue, but when I play online it seems to be very jerky and jumpy. The knew kick interface has about a 1/3 of a second delay from when you hit the button to when it actually does anything, resulting in wildly off target kicks.

    The user interface seems pre-gen and takes much to long to load. When I put a game into my machine, I'd like to be playing the game within a minute. But with this, it's about 40 seconds to load the pre-game menu, another 30 seconds to load the game. Poorly made. Maybe it's taking so long cause it's having to render all the ads. I don't know.

    I completely agree with your point. EA once again has sacrificed a good end user experience with a profit margin. It really pisses me off that they are charing $10 if you didn't purchase the game new. But to those of you who are considering purchasing the game and playing it online, don't waste your time. It's a really REALLY poorly made game.

    I can't wait for EA's rein of inferiority to be over and done with, with regards to the NFL franchise.

  • gamereviewgod

    Good comment. I agree with everything except Game flow.

    Unlike Ask Madden, there is a very deep back end going on with Game flow. You can adjust for a variety of situations, far more stuff than Ask Madden ever took into account. It's very customizable to suit your play style when you want it to be; it just takes time.

  • Gnotsie


  • Mike Freeman

    The more I play this game, the more frustrated I am becoming. The online play i almost unusable. I would think that with having to pay to play online (outside of your XBL membership) they would have better servers, but the lag is SO bad, that often times, the kick meter is 1/2 second off. The problem is, you can’t gauge how far off it is, so kicks fly wildly off target almost every time.

    Also, the timing is just plain off in the online play. You pass the ball, and your QB takes a beat before he throws, often times, resulting in sacks or off taget passes.

    EA should fix these problems. They have almost completely ruined this game. It’s clear that their focus was on promoting in game sponsorship instead of creating a better game. I’m just gonna put 2K5 back in my box until they get these problems fixed. I play games to relax, not to become frustrated.