Looking at the latest charts that just came out this week.
American Chart for Week Ending 16th August 2008
A familiar hierarchy showed itself to me in how each version of Madden sells.
Listing the sales for each videogame platform from highest to lowest we got:
1. XBox 360 Madden NFL 09 = 709,955 in 1st place
2. PlayStation 3 Madden NFL 09 = 426,724 in 2nd place
3. PlayStation 2 Madden NFL 09 = 256,721 in 3rd place
4. Wii Madden NFL 09 All-Play = 159,235 in 4th place
5. PlayStation Portable Madden NFL 09 = 98,964 in 5th place
6. XBox Madden NFL 09 = 30,784 in 15th place
7. DS Madden NFL 09 = 13,056 in 43rd place
This is somewhat similar to the chart of last year when Madden 08 came out:
American Chart for Week Ending 18th August 2007
1. XBox 360 Madden NFL 08 = 711,258 in 1st place
2. PlayStation 2 Madden NFL 08 = 491,763 in 2nd place
3. PlayStation 3 Madden NFL 08 = 244,830 in 3rd place
4. XBox Madden NFL 08 = 79,577 in 5th place
5. Wii Madden NFL 08 = 74,421 in 6th place
6. PlayStation Portable Madden NFL 08 = 41,129 in 10th place
7. DS Madden NFL 08 = 8,322 in 54th place
There're some familar patterns, aren't there?
The XBox 360 version was always the top dog by far, the Playstation home console entries were always right behind, Wii was always way behind both of its 7th generation competitors and was near or at the very bottom for home console Maddens, the original XBox entry always surprisingly charted, the PSP version always did pretty good considering the nature of the game and always topped its handheld competitor the DS which was always dead last and far behind at the bottom of the heap.
There's a reason for this.
Madden NFL is an American Football Simulation.
Why did I bold that? Because each and every word of that statement explains the root essence of how these individual versions chart the way they do. Let's break it down:
The only console competitor in the market from the United States is Microsoft and its XBox and XBox 360. Being the 1st American console to matter in about 20 years (and the 1st American console to even exist in about 10 years [Atari Jaguar 1993, Microsoft XBox 2001] is an integral part of its selling strength. Even if the parts are made in China along with everything else, this thing was BOOOOORN IN THE U.S.A.! This is the biggest strength and the biggest weakness of the system. It understands a good portion of American tastes but ONLY American tastes which is why it struggles in regions outside of the North American continent and more specifically the U.S.A (like Japan for instance). But the system made by the company founded by the once world's richest man Bill Gates and its name "XBox" has already been seen as synonymous with videogames in the United States. Just like "Coke" is synonymous with soda, like "Alka-Seltzer" is synoymous with antacids, like "Ex-Lax" is synonymous with laxatives is like "Nintendo" was in the 80s and "Playstation" was in the 90s and today on videogames. A befuddled tech-ignorant grandparent grumbling about the young folks' interests: "Those whippersnappers with their iPods, cell phones, and XBoxes. They need to read a book!"
XBox is the All-American system in an industry totally taken over by the Japanese (namely Nintendo) since the mid 1980's. It's the odd man out against Japanese competitors Sony and Nintendo and as a result a bit of nation-centric mentality flavors the buying patterns of American gameplayers. And All-American leads to...
Football ~> American Football
In the rest of the world it's called Football but in the United States of America it's called Soccer. In the rest of the world football/soccer is a national/international event worthy of the highest acclaim. But in the United States of America, it's an interesting pastime at best for a select number of knowledgable devoted connoisseurs. The round little black & white is virtually entirely played with the feet hence its name "football" in most of the world. In USA, "football" is this oval-shaped brown "pigskin" which is mostly carried and touched by the hands only seeing feet in rare punts, kickoffs, and field goals. Strange how Americans can call this specialized form of rugby, "football", isn't it? (actually, you know, come to think it, rugby football was one of many corruptions of football itself but that's another matter) Then again, this is the same country that continues to use the English System for measurement rather than the Metric System even when England itself has basically converted to Metric!
So there's Football (Soccer) and there's American Football. American Football as in United States of American Football with its own National Football League! The NFL is uniquely American and forged by a very American identity. While it has appeal outside of the U.S., American football gets about the same acclaim and applause as "Soccer" does in the U.S. Interesting but not enough to shut down the town for. In the rest of the world, the points are hard to come by with lots of strategic struggle between the players until "GOOOOOOAAAAALL!!". In U.S.A., the points come more frequently with more action packed struggle between the players with "Touchdown!". American Football has long bypassed Baseball as the #1 American sport. The Super Bowl is like an unofficial holiday in the United States much like the World Cup is in Soccer loving countries all over the world.
American football is a very American product on a very American system. Which leads me to...
Simulation ~> Football Simulation ~> American Football Simulation
This All-American pastime has sought translation into simulation for decades. 1977's Mattel Football I (http://www.handheldmuseum.com/Mattel/FB.htm) was immensely popular and almost all the boys had one of these despite the players just being red dashes on an electronic display. 1978's Atari Football for the Atari VCS (Atari 2600) put some extra dimension behind the players but it would be a long time before football fans got to play a proper simulation of the sport. See Gamespot's "The History of Football Games" for examples in picture form: http://www.gamespot.com/features/6130897/p-2.html
After high competition in the 2nd generation of consoles and the mid-80's North American videogame market crash, the quest to make the perfect football simulation went mostly to the PC realm and the computer gaming entities (like Commodore 64) challenging the emerging Nintendo empire powered by NES. 1989's Tecmo Bowl gave console playing football fans a great taste of gridiron action but all that changed when EA got together with former football player, coach, and current commentator John Madden to make John Madden Football for the PC world at a similar time frame. Finally, TRUE football simulation had come to life.
Electronic Arts, an American company, began in the PC world and was originally one of the fighters against the world of consoles kept alive and then strengthened by Nintendo and its resulting console competitors. Consoles made the big money and the computer gaming world had to concede resulting in John Madden Football coming to the Sega Genesis and SNES in 1990. At first no official NFL license or players were included but the series was popular and contributed to making EA the monolith it is today. Starting its tradition of becoming an annual game in 1992, it finally got its official NFL license in 1994 with the now shortened name Madden NFL '94. More simulation and TRUEness to form. The series continued its run on the powerhouse twin rulers of the 16-bit scene until Madden NFL 97, the first one made for the 5th generation of consoles and the first to show itself on a PlayStation console.
Nintendo flubbed with the Nintendo 64 due to a long-running controlling nature against 3rd parties and a miscalculation in adopting CD technology preferring to stay with cartridges for professional and profit reasons. The move cost them their dominance in the overall market for 11 years. Sony Playstation capitalized from all of Nintendo's (and Sega's) mistakes. The Playstation Maddens got the best polish and the most attention. All other platforms got the scraps (see Madden Football 64 and the ongoing 16-bit/handheld versions of the series past Madden 97). The Madden series was no longer a Sega or Nintendo thing, it was a PlayStation thing.
The 5th generation was the generation that did away with sprites and went to polygons. The 5th generation was the generation that focused more than ever on realism. As in Sean Malstrom's Theory of Cycles this was the midst of the Cinema Age of Gaming where the focus would be on a naturalistic art style to the point of photorealism. No more funny stuff. No more abstractness. With the power of these consoles, now more than ever we can finally at last get the most TRUE simulation of American football.
Now with increasingly dominant American football sim Madden, made by American company EA, being a Playstation thing and system power to create realism was the focus, the sales flooded mostly to Sony's platform, the most dominant by far (record breakingly dominant). Sega challenged Sony's football dominance (and market dominance/usurpation) through the Dreamcast and the NFL 2K series. Madden snubbed the Dreamcast by refusing to put the game on their platform so Sega had to respond with a TRUE football sim of their own on their powerful 6th generation system. NFL Quarterback Club, NFL Gameday, and all the rest couldn't hold a candle to Madden so NFL 2K proved itself as a worthy challenger to the American football simulation throne.
But the long fight between Sega and Sony came to a head with the emergence of Sony's Emotion Engine-possessing Toy Story graphics-capable PlayStation 2 with Madden NFL 2001. The PS2 stole all of the thunder the Dreamcast had built up and drummed Sega right out of the hardware business. This ended up making the NFL 2K series freelance appearing on all consoles possible including the PS2. Most certainly Madden was a Playstation thing now twice over with the introduction of the PS2. But then here comes out of nowhere Microsoft, an American company, getting into the videogame business with the introduction of the XBox. But that development wouldn't show its effects for a few more years.
In the meantime, EA wanted to lock the rights to American football simulation all to itself and made the exclusivity agreement with the NFL preventing any other company from tapping into the TRUEness of the simulation. It just ain't American football without the NFL. Even the ESPN branding the 2K series had picked up since Sega's demise couldn't save it. Now it was Madden and ONLY Madden for your simulation needs. And Madden is first and foremost a Playstation thing despite the bones given to the platforms.
But here comes American XBox, a MORE POWERFUL system than the widespread record-selling PS2, beginning to get Madden audience despite its vastly lesser audience base. The XBox despite bleeding money like an elephant's cut jugular vein was getting a popular buzz in the U.S. after 3 years on the market. The PS2 was console king but whatever the successor to the admittedly foot-in-the-door XBox would be, it would pose a threat to Sony's American football sim dominance.
2005. The 7th generation is jumpstarted by an ambitious Microsoft with the XBox 360. While Sony and Nintendo win and wallow in the 6th generation, the 360 would usurp everything built up in the past 9 years on the PS platforms using its stronger system power to create an even TRUER American football simulation...this time in HD!! This was one of many ways XBox 360 planned on vampiring the Playstation base absorbing it into its own. An American console with an American game made by an American developer. Madden NFL 06 would launch much after the usual August date for a November 2005 release right before the system's debut. It's next-gen. It's HD. It's the TRUE sim after all.
Madden NFL 07 from 2006 was the last time Madden ranked highest on a Playstation platform. The crossroads was set as 7th gen got underway with a resurgent Nintendo striking back with Wii and DS. The self-imposed curse was lifting. Wii got a version despite flying in the face of Madden wisdom for system capabilities set over the past decade. Weaker system on purpose to get the game looking for the TRUE American football sim? The PlayStation 3 stumbled out of the gate and nearly cost themselves the entire generation with their 'king of the hill' arrogance. Now Madden wasn't so much a PlayStation thing after all. It was becoming an XBox thing. This happened despite the power of Cell in the PS3 and reported superiority. The home of XBox Live and America's gaming sweetheart the XBox 360 now ruled the videogaming representation of America's #1 sport.
"John, care to explain this thing more concisely? I'm getting sleepy reading all this writing."
Sure. Check this out.
•Madden is a home console experience first and foremost. This explains why the handheld versions only do but so much while the home console versions dominate the charts everytime August rolls around. Handhelds are not as powerful a home consoles not to mention the playing experience won't be the same with players huddled together on handhelds vs. players in a living room.
•What explains Nintendo's ongoing weakness with EA's yearly sports series is that the series matured in the 5th and 6th generations ruled by Sony and its Playstations with its philosophy on the immersive multimedia experience in the Cinema Era. Nintendo and Sega shared Madden together in the 4th generation of SNES and Genesis but Playstation took over in the 5th and dominated this series throughout the 5th and 6th much like the Playstations dominated the markets of those 2 generations. Nintendo's philosophy with the Wii runs totally opposite of what Madden had aimed for since its beginnings (TRUEST American football simulation) and continues to show why Madden and EA Sports as a whole are not as strong on Nintendo's systems (home console or handheld) despite them being current market champions.
•What explains the switch of Madden platform dominance from the Playstations to the XBoxes is part the Americanism of the XBox consoles, Madden developer EA, and the sport of American football itself; part the 7th generation market jumpstart with more powerful XBox 360 launching in that area of market all alone for over a year; part the PS3's market fumble making Playstation brand lose some of its cool points (price overall ruining chance to secure base to offset both PS2 and XBox 360); and part the initially stronger-in-market PS2 being a 6th gen system meaning less powerful thus less TRUE sim even if it had all the salesbase. However, all Madden players don't subscribe to the Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor's 'awk awk awk' power mantra and are content to play the new edition on the systems they already got like original XBox for instance (the American system original).
•What explains why the PlayStations are still very strong in sales on Madden is the decade of Madden dominance on Sony's platforms. The PS2 still stands as the world's best-selling home console of all time. Even in the midst of the 7th generation lots of PS2 owners are willing to get the version made for their system rather than go out and buy a whole new system (even a PS3) for the new Madden game. The PS3's contribution to this on the other hand comes from two principles: it is seen as the most powerful console to give the TRUEST Madden experience (in TRUE HD on Blu-ray with the power of Cell!!), the PS3 is rising in market power in comparison to the XBox 360 overall (price cut and image makeover). Also some PS2 owners have graduated up to the PS3 after saving earnestly their hard earned rupees—I mean—dollars.
•What explains why PSP Madden far outdoes DS Madden is once again Nintendo lost command of the franchise long long ago allowing it flourish most everywhere else BUT a Nintendo system. BUT ALSO once again even though Madden is best as console experience, the PSP is seen as more powerful than DS which it is. Therefore it is seen as the TRUEST handheld experience you can get from Madden. Not quite as good as playing it on your surround sound big screen HDTV in the comfort of your living room but this is like a miniature Playstation. It's great for my Madden fix on the go. What the hell is this stylus used for?? That double whammy of weaker system combined with Nintendo's lost grip on series long ago make certain that DS version is lowest of all console versions.
That's how I see the hierarchy of Madden sales. Any questions? Comments?
Words from the Official VGChartz Idiot
WE ARE THE NATION...OF DOMINATION!