Last night, EA Sports held its annual Season Opener at The Press Club in San Francisco. At the event, the publisher showed off a number of its upcoming games and technical demos for two of its biggest titles: NCAA Football 10 and Madden NFL 10. Here's a game-by-game recap of (almost) all the games at the event.
NCAA and Madden
Unfortunately, football fans, EA kept mum on any new features about its pair of upcoming pigskin games. Instead, it chose to talk high level about both NCAA Football 11 and Madden NFL 11. On the NCAA front, executive producer Roy Harvey talked about the importance of authenticity both in gameplay and the game's presentation. Harvey also talked about the challenge in creating a college football game, particularly from a playbook standpoint. While NFL teams might run three to four different offenses across the entire league, in college football, there are dozens of offenses to keep track of and create for the game. Harvey's main points were basically a rehash of a blog he posted on EA Sports official NCAA Football 11 site.
The Madden half of the football presentation was just as vague in terms of new features, but executive producer Jeremy Strauser did have some interesting stats to share that were based on data collected by EA from the millions of Madden NFL 10 players online. Strauser said the Madden team now collects somewhere in the neighborhood of 173 million data instances every day from Madden 10 players, which can result in interesting data nuggets like this:
- Brett Favre (or, more accurately, players controlling Brett Favre) has thrown 7,564,382 interceptions in Madden NFL 10.
- Players have attempted 337,488,922 stiff arms in the game. Of those attempts, 78,527,122 of those stiff arms have been successful (a 23 percent success rate that, according to Strauser, is just about what the developers were aiming for).
- Hit stick tackle attempts have resulted in 518,989,818 successful tackles and 1,135,443,163 misses, or roughly a 46 percent success rate.
- Strauser also showed a graph comparing real-life NFL passing and rushing statistics from this season compared with online statistics from players in Madden NFL 10. A variety of title updates in Madden throughout the year have kept the numbers remarkably similar between the real sport and the video game, thanks to improvements like run blocking.
Beyond those specific data points, Strauser echoed comments that had been made earlier in the presentation by EA Tiburon's general manager Phil Holt: The next Madden needed to reflect and react to the changing habits of its players. With younger players consuming more media than ever, a football game that takes nearly an hour to play with only 17 minutes of actual on-field play doesn't necessarily serve that audience well. In addition, Strauser pointed out that while each team has about 330 unique plays in the game, data shows that players only use about 13 of those different plays in a game. The takeaway, Strauser said, is a ton of depth in Madden that simply isn't being surfaced to the player.
So what does all of this mean for Madden NFL 11? While Strauser didn't go into detail, he did mention three key words that the team at EA Tiburon is focusing on for the game: simpler, quicker, and deeper. It will be interesting to see how these ideas coalesce into gameplay for this year's Madden.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 will build upon last year's online Tournament modes by introducing the Ryder Cup into the game. In addition to playing online or offline, you'll be able to design the format of your Ryder Cup team and even pick your team from the list of pros on the Tiger 11 roster. In addition, EA has announced support for the PlayStation motion controller, but, alas, it wasn't on display at the Season Opener event. Here's EA Sports' Travis Sailer talking about the Xbox 360 version of Tiger 11:
On the Wii, Tiger 11 looks to make another strong case as the best sports game on that console, with a refinement of the Wii MotionPlus controls that worked so well last year. This year, the game will take an even more complete look at your virtual swing by taking into consideration such things as swing plane and where your club makes contact with the ball in determining the success of your shot. Here's Tiger 11 designer Eric Busch talking about the new swing mechanics:
EA Sports MMA
Using a modified version of the Fight Night 4 engine, EA's upcoming MMA game will be at least a little familiar to those who have played the successful boxing franchise. The quick-strike mechanic will use the right stick for punches, kicks, and elbows. This being an MMA game, however, there's still the question of how to play the game once things head to the mat. EA didn't give all the details--and we still weren't allowed to play the game--but here's our updated impressions of the game.
2010 FIFA World Cup 2010
Last month, we got our first peek at the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 version of EA Sports' upcoming World Cup game. Last night, we saw the Wii version for the first time, which will feature simplistic controls and, among other features, a Dream Team mode that will have you completing challenges to build a team of the world's best players. Here's EA Sports' Tristan Jackson walking us through a demo of the Wii game:
The upcoming Wii version of the classic Midway series was on hand at last night's event, but, unfortunately, we aren't able to share the details on the game yet. Look out for more on NBA Jam in this space at the end of the month.
Obviously, we'll be following all the progress of all these games, so stay tuned for more throughout the year.