Christmas Gaming Treats

As a kid I always looked forward to getting new videogames in December (birthday and Christmas). I always held out hope that I was going to get a few new games, and they just had to be better than decent because I knew that my gaming library was not going to increase during the upcoming year.

These days I just buy what I want, usually via pre-order, or I watch a game, waiting for the inevitable price drop before finally indulging myself. Either way, my gaming comes to me when I want, and if I happen to get a dud, I can flip it on eBay. No worries, no fuss.

This year, thanks to Santa (and of course my family), I have enough games to keep me occupied until December 2011, or until I decide to pick up the next great, have to play it now spectacular, super special gaming extravaganza. Something along those lines; call me a sucker for pre-release build up hype.

The Gaming Treasure Trove:

  • Batman Arkham Asylum Game of the Year Greatest Hits. I have always wanted to give this game a go, but for whatever reason, I never did.
  • FIFA 11 (Under $30 during Amazon Thanksgiving sales). I wrote a few weeks ago that I have been playing the shit out of FIFA 10. I love the FIFA 10 experience; the virtual pro is a very immersive experience. I am going to stay with FIFA 10 for the rest of 2010 to see how many Trophies I can pick up before flipping FIFA 10 on eBay, and then I will start my FIFA 11 journey. I can only hope that FIFA 11 is as fun and entertaining as FIFA 10 has been over the last six weeks.
  • God of War 3 (Under $35 during Amazon Thanksgiving sales). Because one cannot have enough God of War.
  • God of War Collection Greatest Hits ($10 during Amazon Thanksgiving sales). Are you kidding me? $10 for high-def updates of two highly rated PS2 game? Complete with a gaggle of Trophies for my gaming pleasure. I never played the PS2 versions, but thanks to the PSP God of War games, I am a converted fan.
  • Gran Turismo 5 Prima Essential Track Guide*
  • Rapala Pro Bass Fishing 2010. Some different. Something for the Move.


* OK, so this little spiral bound book is not game, but I figured I would include it in the overall haul. It is getting a lot of flack in the Amazon review listings, however it is exactly what it states – a track guide. If you are looking for a traditional cheat (er, strategy guide) book, then the Prima guide is not your cup of tea.

Maybe all these new games will have an added bonus; getting my PlayStation Rewards status to nudge a little for the first time since the week after Thanksgiving!

Looking Forward To …
With all these new gaming Christmas experiences, plus the current backlog of goodies, is there anything left on my radar?

  • Little Big Planet 2. Of course I never played the first one, but everyone says LBP is a must have experience, which is fun for the whole family.
  • MLB 11: The Show. See FIFA 10 + FIFA 11; I have until March to get my money’s worth from MLB 10.
  • Need for Speed Hot Pursuit. I want to try the newest NFS title, but I am going to wait for a lower price. Plus I still have GT5 to keep me occupied, and F1 2010 is not getting any love.
  • Madden and NCAA Football. Yeah, I know, let’s don’t go there yet.

There are probably other gems lurking out there, but right now I actually do not have anything on pre-order or a “watch list.” OK, just kidding. I have the HD update of the ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection on pre-order. But other than that one …


Madden 11 – Initial Comments and Ramblings

First of all I have to say this and get it out of the way. As a Falcons fan, I am already sick of the Drew Brees and New Orleans Saints infected cover, opening video, start screen, and main menu title. If EA offered a premium upgrade DLC option to “skin” the game to your favorite team, I would jump on that in a heartbeat. There, I feel better. Marginally.

The second thing I have to get out of the way is that as in years past, I always start sports games on default settings. I believe that developers tune and ship games with specific settings to target their main audience. It is not like I have great skills or anything, so I do not immediately jump to All Madden, or whatever the highest difficulty setting happens to be for a given game. In the case of Madden 11, at least playing with the Falcons, I am probably going to have to adjust the difficulty settings straight away because I am having too much success (on offense anyway) out of the box.

In what has to be a silly attempt to make me feel better about my gaming skills, which as I just mentioned are in the least remarkable, I have already earned three Trophies, which is pretty pathetic if you consider that I did not earn any Trophies in Madden 10. Then again, I was not whoring, so maybe I just rule or something. Doubtful; the game ships on the Pro setting, and Madden 11 may just be easier than Madden 10. The developers probably just made easier to achieve Trophies.

Speaking of Trophies, I find it damn annoying that I cannot delete my 0 Trophies Madden 10 game from my Trophy list. I guess that is a rant for another day.

I have only briefly touched on Madden Ultimate Team mode (MUT), and will probably not give it serious consideration for few more days. After getting some fluff and stuff the first time I selected MUT mode, the fine folks at EA presented me with a message of thanksgiving. Apparently EA is grateful that I am coming back for another round of MUT, and I am sure they expect to get down my pants; well, into my wallet anyway.

The game thanked me for returning to MUT, and as a reward I was being given a “better” (subjective I am sure) starting pack compared to other losers that did not participate in last year’s MUT mode. As an added bonus, I was told I get to keep my existing Ultimate Team name (BTW that would be GA TX Falcons). Finally I was presented with the following message: “Congratulations, you have earned 0 coins.” I guess I did not play enough in Madden 10 to warrant any extra special consideration; that or maybe I did not spend enough. Either way I guess I should be grateful to be starting out with 8 72 rated cards (also received 2 71 rated cards, and 2 70 rated cards). To be fair, this actually is better than what I started out with last year. My starting total card collection value is rated at 107,600 coins.

More on Madden Ultimate Team in the coming days.

I am giving the new Gameflow system a go. If for no other reason I want to see if this “new” system can enhance my gameplay experience while speeding the time it takes to complete a game. The only issue I have so far is that in real life I expect the Falcons to try to pound the ball, but with Gameflow, I am seeing too much reliance on the pass in the first half. Interestingly enough, once I get in front, after halftime, I get a majority of running plays called (probably in the neighborhood of 4:1 rush/pass ratio). Certainly worth keeping an eye on to see if the frequency of pass plays in the first half is a pattern, has something to do with my playbook (or game plan), or even the settings I am using.

One thing that I did with Madden 10 was make frequent use of the substitution feature during play calling. This allowed me to make sure that Norwood and Snelling got some touches, not just Turner. I am not sure that Gameflow gives enough variety with player substitutions in formations, so if I am going to continue to use Gameflow, I will probably have to play around with fatigue and player formations settings.

Sticking with Gameflow, and semi-transitioning into AFL mode, using the Houston Oilers (err, Tennessee Titians in throwback jerseys) I racked up 169 rushing yards with Chris Johnson, defeating the original Texans (KC Chiefs) 26-14. This time the Gameflow system called for runs left and right, which seemed appropriate. I really enjoyed the AFL presentation, which is included for free this year after being a premium DLC add-on in Madden 10. I did not pay for the AFL mode last year, so it was a pleasant surprise having it included as part of the base Madden 11 game.

I am sure it has been overdone elsewhere, but kickoff returns are a bitch, and I cannot seem to keep the defense out of the backfield whenever Gameflow calls for a play action pass. On the other hand, I am running the ball well, and screen plays seem to be pretty well executed.

For what it is worth, the CPU has missed several field goals; usually just wide, and a few times off the posts.

I forgot to mention that the Falcons won Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium 24-0 over the Buccaneers. As long as we are talking fantasy, may as well take down the Bucs.

Speaking of the Super Bowl mode, which is really just an option to pick any two teams to play in the Super Bowl, complete with plenty of pre and post game commentary, special (if you want to call it that) presentation coverage, I wish there was a way to setup a Playoff bracket.

My only real complaint with Madden 11 is that once again in-game saves are nowhere to be found; good grief how f’ing hard would that be to pull off?

All for now; more to come.


Madden 11 Ships

Thanks to Amazon’s Prime service, with release day shipping to my door, Madden 11 should be waiting on me by the time I get home.

Apparently there are a lot of mixed emotions about this year’s installment on the various boards and blogs that cover such things as glitches in QB throwing motion animation sequences. I kid you not; Madden releases are serious business.

Once upon a time I would keep the previous version of Madden (or any other sports game for that matter) so I would have an option if the new version sucked (or contained some serious flaw). I would also use the older version as a point of reference; i.e. research what was improved, revisit how some previous feature worked, and other nutty stuff that I did as a game reviewer. Besides, I “collected” games – what a loser. These days I typically try to time throwing a sports game like Madden 10 on eBay to capitalize on the fact that the game is not fully discounted at retail and the new version is still a few months out. So if Madden 11 contains some major issue that was not in Madden 10, there is really no going back.

In the end I think things will be OK. The developers will address any serious flaws or bugs in the inevitable patch(es), and the player ratings and rosters will be adjusted a couple of times during the season. After playing the demo I hope items like piss poor punt return blocking and lack of quality kickoff returns will be addressed in the first gameplay patch.

If you are looking for an overhaul in the franchise system, that is not going to happen this year. After reading some of the comments from the producer, I am not sure if an overhaul of the franchise mode will ever see the light of day; apparently only a small, but very vocal minority of gamers care about such things as salary caps, owner mode, player rating progressions, and how the CPU handles trades, free agent signings, and the like.

I will be happy if I manage to get in a couple of games tonight. Typical “take these comments with a box of rock salt” impressions and comments forthcoming.

Happy Madden everyone!


Madden 11 – In Need of a Friend

I received some EA Sports propaganda over the weekend that “thanked me for playing the Madden 11 demo” and if I “shared the demo with a friend” I would receive a Madden 11 Ultimate Team Pack (and potentially unlock other exclusive content … which may just be the “free” Ultimate Team Pack).

I really enjoyed Madden 10 Ultimate Team, so of course I jumped on the opportunity to get a free pack to start of my Madden 11 deck. Silly me; after clicking on the link I was told that I have to log into Facebook.

I am probably one of the last Facebook holdouts, but I really do not intend to sign up for an account no matter the pressure from family and friends. Ah, but what about pressure from Madden 11 and free Ultimate Team packs?

To be honest over the last few months I have thought about signing up for Facebook, linking back to this site, and maybe posting some pictures to share with friends and family. In addition, networking for future employment opportunities is probably a good idea in these troubled economic times.

As I said, I have managed to hold out. It is not that I am anti Facebook or think my friends can go f’ themselves, I just do not like the social networking concept. If I want to know what my family or friends are doing, I will call them, and I hope they have the common decency to call when they come into some money, are riding a train through the Europe countryside, or happen to be getting drunk at a nearby establishment.

Will I finally give in to social networking pressures? All for the love of Madden? I am doing my best not to prostitute myself, but it sucks that my Madden 11 Ultimate Team deck will start out inferior to millions of others that are not afraid of the potential consequences and baggage that go with social networking.


Madden 11 Demo – Seven Observations

I have spent a few games with the PS3 Madden 11 demo, and so far color me unimpressed. I was going to title this “Madden 10 in Disguise” however after further review, that would be unfair and a little over the top. Here are a few initial thoughts …

First, I am surprised that the animations do not really seem new and improved. For example, watching Peyton Manning throw the ball is an exercise in how not to animate a game. I am sure there are plenty of differences a more discerning Madden gamer would notice, but I am underwhelmed. Is this really the best that EA can do with the PS4?

Second, the announcing is crap. After Matt Sanchez threw a TD, I was told how Sanchez “has been doing this for years.” Seriously? I am sure that there is a fine art to intelligent commentary, but after years and years of garbage, I think it is about time to come up with something a little better. The current generation of hardware should be able to provide enough horsepower to come up with something original, dare I say tolerable.

Third, at first blush I like the new kicking system. Then again, in my opinion, anything is better than the old kicking mechanics. My only concern is that it is possible that the new double click system has gone too far in the opposite direction, which could make the kicking game too easy.

Fourth, the new Gameflow system is probably just an automated Ask Madden. It will be fun to see how this system works with different teams and playbooks, and it will certainly simplify things for new gamers. It seems a little dishonest to taut Gameflow as a major new innovation.

Fifth, punt coverage (or really blocking) on returns is abysmal. I don’t expect to return every kick for a TD, but I do expect my blockers to, well, block.

Sixth, how many f’ing INTs can be dropped? I don’t really expect Indy and the Jets to drop potential INT after INT. I am not sure if this is a manifestation of a demo, some sort of bizarre game balance mechanism, or something entirely different. If my guys managed to catch half the potential INTs that they dropped, QB ratings would fall like a rock. Is this how the developers are managing QB accuracy?

Seventh, the new locomotion system, which at first glance seems like the same system used in the NCAA Football 11 demo, is worth watching. It will be nice to see some more differences between a wider variety of players when the full game is released.

Hopefully once I dive deeper into the full game I will be more impressed, but right now I feel like one of those mainstream reviewers that describes each yearly Madden release as a roster update. Based on what I have seen so far, I am not sure where the Madden team invested their money to improve the franchise. Hopefully I am wrong and there will be plenty of nuggets of goodness awaiting my football gaming pleasure when Madden 11 is released in a couple of weeks.


NCAA Football 11 – Another Year on the Sidelines

While NCAA Football 11 looks to be an improved gaming experience, as I mentioned a few weeks back, I am once again skipping out on NCAA Football. I am sure it is a fine game, and the metacritic scores reflect this (17 critic scores average to 85%), based on deeper analysis** I think the franchises needs another year to properly bake.

It sounds like the gameplay is solid; much improved over recent years. The glaring problem looks to be that the Dynasty Mode is full of cracks, and the deep Dynasty experience from the PSOne glory days is the reason I fell in love with NCAA Football in the first place!

Another reality is that I just do not have enough time to really dive into two football games. I guess if Madden 11 stinks, I could swap it out for NCAA Football 11; I need at least one football game to make it through football season!

Best NCAA Football 11 Review Honors …
As always, William Abner (GameShark) does a great job of taking a sports game and breaking it down into a nice enjoyable summary of the “important stuff” that majority of gamers can use to determine if a sports game should be on their purchase, rent, or skip list.

Reviewing Sports Games is a Rat Hole
Speaking of Mr. Abner, his colleague Todd Brakke over at The Nut and the Feisty Weasel, hit the nail on the head with his recent comments about the difficulty with reviewing sports games.

In other words, you have to spend time researching instead of just playing and I think that’s where a lot of reviewers, and the editors who assign them, fail when it comes to handling sports games. It’s not fun work to review these games and the time investment to do it is probably not worth what a reviewer is getting paid to do it, if they’re getting paid at all. And even for the guys (or gals) who do a credible job of attempting to thoroughly play and test a sports game, you are sure to miss something big that someone buying and playing the game for fun will catch inside of a week. There’s just too much stuff.

The business of sports game reviewing is really a thankless task. I’m glad I finally gave up the ghost and just turned to gaming first, and writing as a secondary way to enjoy gaming.

** Deeper Analysis is JC speak for a few trusted reviewers and op-eds, and blogs that are generally in line with my gaming expectations.


NCAA Football 11 – Worth Considering?

Last year I gave up on EA’s NCAA Football series. I just did not see enough improvement to make it worth my while; the series had grown stale. Besides, these days I just do not have time to tackle two football titles. I have thrown my time towards Madden, but there was a time when I eagerly anticipated the next annual NCAA Football installment.

So far this year I am still on the sidelines. While I have pre-ordered Madden 11 (a $20 videogame promotional credit from Amazon certainly helped persuade me), I have decided to wait on some of the reviews to come in before making a decision on NCAA Football 11.

I am going to be out of country this week, so that actually buys me some time to read some of the initial thoughts, especially from some of the more informed blog sites. Speaking of reviews (and review scores), this article on the influence of review scores is worth a read.

So far the early scores on metacritic are favorable. I wonder how long that will last and if NCAA Football 11 will hold up. If anything, if NCAA Football 11 provides a “fresh” experience, I expect it will garner higher review scores than Madden 11.

Of course a little competition for EA would be helpful, but thanks to exclusive licensing deals with the NCAA and NFL, that is not going to happen.


Madden 11 – Blocking Out Franchise Improvements

I stumbled upon a couple of interesting Madden 11 articles this morning, which will eventually take us into a digression into why EA sucks donkey balls. It’s not as if I do not enjoy Madden, I do, however at some point enough is enough.

First, from joystiq, the Madden 11 developer diary talks mostly about blocking improvements. If they get this one right, and blockers actually block, lead, engage, and play with a little common sense, I think Madden fans everywhere will rejoice. It is just a damn shame that it has taken so long for the developers to decide it is time to overhaul the blocking. Seriously, WTF is wrong with them. The side-by-side video of “old” blocking vs. “new” blocking is amusing. As if there was some revelation on the part of the Madden team? “Boys, we better do something about the blocking before someone notices.”

Second, a user comment in the joystiq article lead me to some commentary bemoaning the lack of Madden 11 franchise improvements, especially considered to NCAA Football 11, which looks like it is innovating it online dynasty mode instead of just tweaking.

Let’s be honest. Without competition, EA will continue to stagnate. It’s clear that the Madden developers should concentrate on gameplay; however at this point in the current generation, the gameplay should already have been fully defined, with only incremental steps necessary in each subsequent version. Ooops. That’s where we are; we are getting an incremental improvement in blocking AI. Thanks EA.

Minor improvements can only take us so far. EA also needs to offer new features, modes of play, and serious updates to the features gamers really expect – pretty graphics and online improvements. You can laugh about the graphics and animation, but I call for a reboot in the look and presentation.

In my younger gaming days, I spent massive amounts of time in dynasty and franchise modes. These days, with work, kids, and a whole host of other non gaming commitments, I no longer have the time to invest. That does not mean that I do not want to see improvements in the way the AI helps handle off-season matters and online league play. Something akin to OOTP management style gaming via online franchise or dynasty modes would be completely captivating.

The crux of the matter is that there is no one to push the Madden and NCAA Football teams, so why bother putting in a serious influx of cash for R&D efforts? After all these years, NCAA Football is finally getting back the mass substitution feature? You have to be shitting me that the EA is even bringing this up as a new addition to the game.

Last year was the first year that I skipped NCAA Football; I just do not see improvements from the PS2 games, and for that matter the PSX games – NCAA Football was glorious 7 years ago. Now the NCAA Football team is working on dynasty mode improvements, which is great; WTF is the Madden team doing with their franchise improvements? Not a damn thing. Why? They do not have to spend a single red cent because there is no competition, which means no incentive.

I have already preordered Madden 11, and am strongly considering returning to NCAA Football this year because of the announced dynasty mode improvements in this year’s game. So I am part of the problem; like a damn drone I keep putting dollars in EA’s pockets. Why? Because I love football; like so many other gamers I have loved Madden and the NCAA Football series for years. I want to see improvements. I want the games to be fun. Mostly I want to see real innovation.


Madden 11 – Yes, Another Yearly Pre-Order

Oops, I did it again. Over the weekend I put Madden 10 on eBay, and pre-ordered Madden 11 to take advantage of a $20 off/credit promotion.

Order Madden NFL 11 for the Wii, PS3, or Xbox 360 and get $20 off a future video game purchase. The promotion code will be applied directly to your account up to two (2) business days after your product ships. This offer will be extended to all existing pre-orders. Amazon reserves the right to change or terminate this promotion at any time. Offer valid for one purchase per customer.

Couple the credit with free release day delivery (for Tuesday, August 10, 2010) shipping, and Madden 11 was just too attractive to pass up.

As if I never seriously considered Madden 11 not being a day one purchase. There was a brief (must have been fleeting too) moment earlier this year during my Madden Ultimate Team foray, where I considered that maybe I would just stick with Madden 10 for two years running. Crazier things have happened; for the first time in the history of the series I did not pick up the newest NCAA Football release.

So I am football less for the next 10-11 weeks. Maybe it is time to go retro with Tecmo Bowl Throwback.


Tecmo Bowl Throwback

The upcoming release of the classic SNES Tecmo Bowl Throwback title has been on my radar since it was announced. The video game page at ESPN has a nice Q&A with the game’s producer.

Jon Robinson: Without the NFL license, how are the team and player names handled in the game?

Mike Fahrny: Because of the NFL licensing with EA, we couldn’t use any of the teams or players, so they’re all different. All the team and player names are different. But the one thing we did do is to allow all the team and player names to be editable by the player. So if you want to go back and play as one of those old NFL teams, feel free to. It just depends how much you want to go back and micromanage. All of the original stats are there, so your favorite players are in there, and we kept the teams in the same city location, so you should be able to find and figure out where your old favorites are pretty quickly.

That EA/NFL license thing is really the bomb, no? Even without the licensing issues, I doubt all of the players would have appeared correctly “as is” due to issues with NFL Player Association licensing deals.

The article had one further comment that gives some hope to the game; apparently “Q/A team keeps complaining that the game is too hard” – good times. I suspect Tecmo Super Bowl Throwback will do well with a certain middle age gamer demographic.


Sunday Stuffs

The weather this weekend has been absolutely wonderful – upper 60s and blue skies on Saturday and Sunday. We spent most of our free time outdoors – throwing footballs, practicing soccer, riding bikes, going on long walks, and cleaning up the year. You get the picture. It would have been a perfect weekend for shooting the airguns – the R1, R1 Carbine, R7, and the Marauder – however I never had the chance. Not that I am complaining that there were always kids in my shooting range; maybe next weekend.

Auto Club 500 Fontana
I am watching the closing stages of the race [50 laps left] as I write this entry; rain looms. I only watched the opening laps and this last part of the race. As mentioned above, the weather is too nice to stay inside. Fontana has never been one of my favorite tracks; just wish some of my drivers (Gordon, JPM, Junior, Smoke) where closer to the front. On the occasional look-ins, Gordon has been up front some, but it looks like he has a wounded engine.

Gaming Update
Are you kidding? With this weather? When I was not working on the site upgrade Friday and Saturday night, I was not in front of the TV. I did get in a couple of hours of White Knight Chronicles: International, which I continue to find a lot of fun. From a mechanics point of view, it is actually more interesting as you gain more skill points and build combinations.

Heavy Rain is coming on Tuesday (Feb. 23), followed by MLB 10: The Show (Mar. 2), and Final Fantasy XIII (Mar. 9). Needless to say, I have no idea how I will get in all these games, but I am going to try.

I am considering eBay’ing Madden 10 because I have not played it in a week, football season is over, and I would like to capitalize on something to put towards Madden 11. This is always a challenge – trying to hit the perfect moment to still get something for the game before the upcoming version makes the current version worthless. I am not sure if I am ready to throw Madden 10 away; it’s the best Madden in years and Madden Ultimate Team is a lot of fun. However I have not played it in two weeks, and with a slew of incoming games, my Madden opportunities are probably slim.

I’m actually having the same debate with FIFA 10. Unlike Madden, I have not gotten my money’s worth out of FIFA. The World Cup version will be here in April. I need to do some research to see what sort of gameplay upgrades the new version would offer over FIFA 10. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

More Site Stuffs – Green is Back!
I know I am biased; I love the new theme. I think it is the perfect complement to the original Calvert Games brand, without being overly done. It has taken a long time [calendar and actual weekend work] to get it back to this point. I think it was worth the effort.

As I mentioned yesterday, I still have some maintenance I need to do before I put a ribbon on this puppy and call it clean. I continued to polish the site today, and I have a few other items I would like to touch-up this week. I would also like to add in a few more plugins and widgets; nothing too over the top … just enough to make the site a more dynamic experience.


Madden 10 – One Final Roster Update?

Last week I complained about the final Madden 10 roster update, and how it affected the Falcons. I failed to notice that Kurt Warner (along with several other players) was removed from the game. According the pastapadre (via N4G), EA is going to correct that issues, and offer yet again, one final roster update. I think this is a great move on EA’s part.


EA Goes All In – Project Ten Dollar

It will be interesting to see how EA’s new “Project Ten Dollar” will turn out for consumers. According to BusinessWeek (via EuroGamer), EA will include a $10 coupon in upcoming games that unlocks additional content.

At the meeting, Riccitiello green-lighted “Project Ten Dollar,” a coupon program to reward people who purchase a new game with downloadable content and upgrades. People who buy used games pay an extra $10 or more for the same goodies. To create online products quickly, EA cut a deal in November to buy Playfish, which makes free games for social networks.

While I do not typically purchase used games, I wonder what is at play? Take Madden 10 which has some DLC for classic AFL teams. If Madden 11 includes that as part of the coupon, that is a nice to have; I never purchased it for Madden 11. If the coupon is for Ultimate Team, EA will have problems growing this potential revenue stream in Madden 11. I would have never tried Ultimate Team in Madden 10 if it was not included for free.

Sticking with Madden, what if roster updates are pay-to-play; included for free with the coupon? Because Madden contains the NFL license, I do not think EA can screw consumers by only including some teams, players, stadiums, but they could go the route of making roster updates, playbooks, extra jerseys, etc, which would tick off a lot of gamers.

I can understand EA attempting to cash in on the second-hand market, but I disagree with this approach. If they make a compelling experience, and make DLC that gamers actually want to purchase, EA will make their revenue in micro-transactions. I would love to see some numbers on Madden Ultimate Team because I suspect EA turned this very late addition to Madden into some additional revenue where none was expected.


The Death of Console NCAA Basketball Titles

Over at Dubious Quality, Bill Harris posted an interesting article last night. Apparently EA is pulling the plug on this year’s annual NCAA Basketball title; I believe the 2K title was already canned.

I have never been a huge video game basketball fan, but I never thought I would see this day come. Is NCAA Football next?

From my perspective, I don’t think it is such a bad thing for EA to skip a release. Personally I would rather see developers focus on creating a really great title and then offer DLC, even if some of it is pay-to-play, in order to support and enhance the gaming experience.

Take Madden 2010 for example. While the game does have some faults, it is sold enough that I may consider not picking up 2011. I doubt EA would ever do this, but they could keep 2010 rolling – continue to patch the game and offer new content via DLC. Of course the patches should be free. EA could offer Madden 2010 gamers 2011 roster update subscriptions in two different tiers – post draft and post training camp, and an unlimited offer that would support roster updates throughout the year. EA has already shown the ability to add free DLC via Madden Ultimate Team, which can also drive revenue.

I passed on last year’s NCAA Basketball and NCAA Football titles, so I am not sure if continuing to release patches and DLC would even be an option, but it would be something that (I think) gamers would embrace. Could you image a year when the reviews did not claim “same game with roster updates?” Rejoice! That would be music to my ears!


Weekly MUT Update

I laid off MUT for much of last week in favor of some other neglected games, but did get in a game yesterday. While I will never be rich (in terms of in-game coins) my team is now in pretty decent shape. I have several contracts expiring in 2-3 games, but nothing too serious. In fact, once I get another pack of cards, I will sell/exchange a few of these. I’ll do what I can to keep the Gold cards, but I am also not at all against flipping them in the auction house.

Thanks to the free Brees card, my team now has a healthy 80 rating, but at just below 50, my chemistry sucks. After a few card sells last week and yesterday’s win, I now have enough coins to buy a Silver pack.

This week I will probably concentrate on team chemistry. I do not really want to build my team around Brees or Saints cards, but the reality is that Brees and Chris Johnson are my best players. Doubt I will sell them until I have something of equal value at the QB and HB positions, but this is the enjoyable part of the game. My first step was to get to a point where I could sustain my team. I think I am there, or almost there; I could see having to infuse my team with another pack of cards (i.e. spending real money). The next step is to actually build a team. MUT is sort of like fantasy football console style.