E3 2018: Madden 19's Pre-Game Won't Address NFL's Controversial Kneeling Policy
In real life, NFL players must stand for the national anthem or face a fine.
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EA's Madden franchise aims to be the most authentic representation of the popular American sport, and year over year it delivers improvements that make the game look and feel even more genuine. The same cannot always be said for what happens off the virtual field, however.
This year, the NFL has instituted a much-criticised, Trump-supported policy that requires all players on the field to stand during the national anthem, lest they face a fine. Players can also remain in the locker room during the anthem if they wish to avoid the fine. This new pre-game setup will not be reflected in this year's Madden 19, producer Ben Haumiller told GameSpot at the EA Play event ahead of E3 2018.
He explained that the team at EA Sports is instead focusing on getting players into the game as quickly as possible. Haumiller suggested that the new kneeling policy is a "distraction" from the real reason people play Madden games: to play Madden.
"We work very closely with the NFL and the NFLPA. We work very closely about how we want to represent the game, and really make it a celebration of the sport," he said. "And maybe a place where you don't have to ... you love the game, but you don't have to worry about everything else that's going on that might be distractions from [the reason] you're trying to be here--it's about the game."
The pre-game presentation in Madden 19 will remain largely the same as in previous years. You'll see cuts of the stadium and the players coming out of the tunnel. "We really want to get you to the gameplay," he said, adding that EA Sports focuses most on making everything from the start of the game to when the final whistle blows as authentic as it can be.
Madden 19 will feature commentary updated on a regular basis, but it remains to be seen if the announcers will talk about the kneeling issue. In speaking with Haumiller, it appears unlikely that they will.
EA has been wishy-washy in recent years about having the announcers discuss controversial issues. In 2016, EA said the commentary in Madden 17 would have the announcers briefly discuss Coin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the national anthem. His brave protest over violence against minorities was one of the biggest pieces of sports news that year, so it was a big deal that Madden 17 would have its announcers respond to this. However, they never did, and EA was called out for backing out of responding to the issue, and that may happen again this year.
Madden 19 launches on August 10 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The game is also coming to PC, which marks the first entry in the franchise for PC since 2007's Madden 2008.