Whoa?? Wha??? John actually makes a positive prediction on a system NOT made by Nintendo???
Yes, I did.
In a recent thread I made 3 or 4 weeks ago, I broke down my understanding of how and why the Madden franchise sells the way it does on different platforms and the history that created that sales allocation. Other posters certainly added perspectives I overlooked or omitted to mention but the basic structure was there. Here take a look:
Why Madden sells the way it does
I said that the heart of the matter was that Madden is an American Football Simulation. It tries to best capture and reproduce the experience of the NFL from TV. For this reason it's biased for systems that have the philosophy of realism in graphical presentation and can best serve the American (U.S.A.) market since it's an uniquely American product. NFL games don't have the appeal outside of the U.S.A. much like that OTHER football known as soccer has limited appeal in the United States.
I mentioned the history of EA starting in the computer gaming market where John Madden Football originally began. I mention Nintendo reviving console gaming in America after the Crash of 1983/1984 which EA was fighting against being that they were part of the computer gaming market where "Western gaming" was headed. Nintendo gaining power and naturally bringing competitors made the console gaming world stronger and more profitable than the computer gaming world and eventually EA conceded to place their realistic football simulation on the Super Nintendo and its rival the Sega Genesis in the early 1990's.
In this move EA changed its legacy from an artist-focused company to the commercial behemoth you see today. The beginning of EA Sports financially and structurally changed EA forever. EA eventually began the practice of releasing sports games per year to reflect lineup changes (before a sports game was released periodically and played more thoroughly). The whole business model of EA Sports influenced how they reacted to the markets of the era.
Since Madden was intended to portray football realism, the shift from the 16-bit sprites era of the 4th generation and the 3-D polygons of the 5th generation directed where EA would focus the series. This explains how the franchise focus left the SNES/Genesis of Nintendo and Sega and went to Sony's PlayStation. While all marketable consoles got a copy the focus and polish would be on where the game sold the most. The franchise and the company which console got the bread and butter were in line philosophy-wise and the series reflected the progress of the console with the priority.
As the 6th generation got underway with the blacklisted Sega Dreamcast and PlayStation 2, Madden followed once again the product philosophy of the PS2 as the "serious, adult" game machine/media center. This meant more realism and attention to detail just like the game was always intended to be. But the PS2 despite the hype about Emotion Engines and Toy Story graphics was the weakest of the systems horsepower-wise. Even with the lunchbox look Nintendo's Gamecube was stronger not to mention the new challenger from Microsoft, the XBox. XBox was the strongest system graphically in the 6th gen not to mention an American system which was perfect for an American game like NFL football.
While the userbase of the original XBox was a tiny fraction of the PS2's audience XBox Madden sales were impressive by comparison. Not the top of the versions but a competitive second going by opening week tallies only, of course. This shows how much XBox's product philosophy mirrored Sony's on that front. The XBox Live factor certainly helped in this regard too. Gamecube not in line philosophy wise always sold poorly by comparison which has been and still is the legacy of EA Sports on Nintendo consoles ever since the N64.
XBox was always MS's foot in the door for the videogame business, its practice console if you will. The XBox 360 was the "real" one and to make sure it would kick off the 7th generation in style it had the release of Madden NFL 06 come out 6 days before the release of the actual console. Sports gameplayers are a different breed than most gamers and most prefer to buy their perennial games as the actual season starts so not too much could be drawn from this launch but sales were impressive having sales along with fellow launch games Call of Duty 2 and Perfect Dark Zero.
Now we had 7th gen power in a 6th gen field. An American game which focuses on realism and horsepower for graphical output must be placed on the most powerful, most American system available. XBox 360 was stealing the PS2 American base like the old XBox had started to do later in its life. The PS2's version of Madden 07 outsold the 360's one in 2006 in the systems' first head to head faceoff in Madden month but XBox 360 stood as champ with Madden 08 by far when all 7th gen competitors joined the fight (PS3's was under PS2 version!).
But wait a minute. While in the 6th gen XBox stood the strongest, the 7th gen had the PS3 as the strongest. Over a decade of EA Sports formulated with a heavy focus on realism and detail like the sweat on brow seen in one of those NBA Live 07 commericials and it's not tops on the most powerful system??
It's part userbase of course. PS3 with all of its early problems sabotaged a lot of its success allowing the 360 to usurp their position. And PS2 had hype about power going in as well as the momentum from the PS1 to consider. It's not so simple to say that the franchises go to the most popular system or else Wii's Madden would be on top. Wii even more so than the Gamecube is out of sync with the long-established philosophy of games from EA Sports like Madden.
With PS3 fixing their image this year we now see the PS3 version of Madden 09 similarly close to the leading 360 version as the 360's version of Madden 07 was close to the leading PS2 version. Here's the theory.
The All-American image and similar capabilities of the XBox consoles allowed it to usurp Sony's base in regards to an uniquely American game like NFL-style football. But the edge XBox 360 gained being the most powerful has been outdone by the PS3 and its reportedly untapped power. Madden from its very beginnings prided itself on realism and sought to find the most popular system that would allow it to achieve this. A tradeoff between wide userbase and ability for graphical output is what steers EA Sports design philosophy.
With the PS3 stymieing the 360's progress lately in its fight for 2nd place, with its growing userbase and the horsepower to back it up, it MAY be possible that the next iteration, Madden 2010, will see best sales on PS3 come opening week in August 2009.
Lots of explanation for a flakier than usual outlook I admit but this dawned on me a few days ago. All this depends on what the 360 can do to offset Sony within the next 12 months. I always said even before this generation started that what happens to Sony is based on how much Microsoft can vampire their base. That's why I can't be as crystal clear as usual. Microsoft HAS to usurp Sony or they can't continue in this business. With Nintendo, that unshakeable pillar, I can be clearer than a freshly washed window pane. But not so with those other 2 competitors on a matter like this.
If Microsoft DOESN'T offset Sony's resurgence, Madden 2010 will see best sales on PS3.
If Microsoft DOES offset Sony's resurgence, Madden 2010 will see best sales on the 360.
Which console will receive the "hardcore" priority? I say it like that because EA cannot ignore Nintendo no matter how the EA Sports games sell on their systems. The whole creation of the All-Play set is evidence of that. But this fight is for the old way Madden was done. Who will win that struggle?
Words from the Official VGChartz Idiot
WE ARE THE NATION...OF DOMINATION!