Peter Moore reveals EA Sports gameplan

MI6 2009: Executive explains overhaul of Madden division to fit changing industry landscape, reveals 311 percent increase in online play.

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SAN FRANCISCO--Last month, game developers from around the world descended on this city to attend the Game Developers Conference. That event was created to give the people who make games a chance to discuss emerging trends, share lessons learned, and network with colleagues. Today, the people who sell games did the exact same things at their own event in the heart of San Francisco.

Peter Moore.
Peter Moore.

Keynoting the Fourth Annual MI6 Game Marketing Conference was EA Sports president Peter Moore, who has supported the show since its 2006 inception and still holds a spot on its board of governors. Moore used the platform to discuss his efforts to reinvigorate the EA Sports brand and show off the latest fruit of those labors, EA Sports Active for the Wii.

Moore began his speech by recapping four key attributes EA Sports stood for before his arrival. First and foremost, the brand prided itself on authenticity (hence the "It's in the Game" slogan). He also emphasized the publisher's focus on innovation year in and year out, so gamers are "compelled" to get the new version of every game. Competition and lifestyle rounded out the package, with Moore highlighting online play, events, tournaments, and other promotions as ways to bring more gamers to EA Sports titles.

While Moore said all four of those things are still important, he acknowledged that the industry landscape has been changing since Konami's Dance Dance Revolution brought activity into the mix. Wii Sports pushed that trend further, and social games like EA Partners' and MTV Games' Rock Band further changed the industry, Moore noted. The problem is, those games generally pushed the industry away from EA Sports' core competencies and the four pillars the brand was built on.

Dance Dance Revolution touched off industry changes that EA Sports was not well equipped to handle.
Dance Dance Revolution touched off industry changes that EA Sports was not well equipped to handle.

While those trends may have presented challenges to EA Sports in particular, Moore said they were "tremendously empowering" for gamers in general. For the first time, titles like Wii Fit got across to the masses that games weren't just violent fare for adolescents; they could also be good for people.

Back to EA Sports' approach to the problem, Moore said the publisher turned its focus to five pillars, the first two of which were capturing core gamers and captivating the masses. While he acknowledged those two could seem contradictory on the surface, Moore stressed that it was possible to pursue both at once, creating an elasticity to the brand that leaves it in good shape however the industry changes.

The remaining three pillars were to globalize the company, to expand the EA Sports brand into new areas, and, most importantly, "to digitize the business." Moore said it was crucial to the company to use digital distribution to continually refresh the gaming experience for players, whether it's with premium downloadable content or regular roster updates. Sports were particularly well suited to the globalization approach, according to Moore.

"There's one thing about sports that no other genre enjoys," Moore pointed out. "I don't need to localize the games for you to understand how to play."

EA Sports Active is one of Moore's attempts to court new audiences.
EA Sports Active is one of Moore's attempts to court new audiences.

Moore then introduced a live demo of EA Sports' latest appeal to the masses, EA Sports Active. Moore's days of live demos are apparently behind him, as rather than risk another faux pas along the lines of his final E3 conference for Microsoft, the executive introduced a member of the EA Sports Active team to go through a short workout while he preached the game's virtues. (Moore does apparently play the game, because after his keynote address he credited the game with helping him lose 18 pounds.)

With the pitch for casual gamers out of the way, Moore explained the approach to draw in the core consumer. The first point of emphasis was on improving quality, giving players a reason to buy the game again year after year. Innovation also plays into that. Moore pointed to the Dynamic DNA feature of NBA Live 09 as particularly appealing to hardcore fans. The Dynamic DNA system updates the game every night to reflect players' real-world tendencies and stats.

"It is the future not only of sports games, but of games," Moore said, adding that it will be built into more of the company's games in the future.

Moore said all that was made possible by online gaming. He pointed to EA's own stats, which showed a 311 percent jump in online gamers from EA Sports' 08 series of games to its 09 entries. He added that 60 to 70 percent of all EA Sports gamers take their titles online, with "huge upticks" in that number whenever the company releases substantial downloadable content.

Connecting with consumers offline was another point of change for Moore. He talked about the variety of lifestyle events EA Sports holds, from hosting 6,000 gamers at the Rose Bowl for a Madden promotional event to touring EA Sports Challenge events around the country. Moore acknowledged that EA Sports is the object of a lot of scorn from core gamers, and he talked about efforts to change that perception.

One part of Moore's solution was to use self-deprecating humor, as EA Sports did with the virally disseminated Tiger Woods 09 glitch ad. Another aspect is talking directly to consumers, which Moore has done through his own blog.

EA Sports is using downloadable offerings like NCAA 09: March Madness to capitalize on post-season excitement.
EA Sports is using downloadable offerings like NCAA 09: March Madness to capitalize on post-season excitement.

On the topic of keeping the experience fresh, Moore pointed to the recent release of NHL 3-on-3 Arcade and the recent NCAA March Madness bracket. He noted that the main games still need to come out at the beginning of each season, but downloadable games and add-ons are a way to capitalize on the excitement surrounding the post-season tournaments of each sport.

Yet another way that the digitization of the industry is helping EA is with free-to-play business models. Moore mentioned how popular free-to-play massively multiplayer games are in Asia (Korea particularly) and talked about EA's attempt to capitalize on those markets. While the company is comfortable distributing games like FIFA Online 2 and NBA Street Homecourt to the free-to-play markets at the moment, Moore said EA is looking at ways to roll them out in the West without cannibalizing the existing core businesses.

Swinging to the opposite end of the spectrum, Moore talked about expanding the EA Sports brand into purely analog endeavors. Whether it's with EA Sports-branded restaurants or sporting equipment, Moore talked about the efforts to put the name into entirely new areas. The first such expansion was the virtual playbook, which transposed Madden 09 graphics onto studio sets in some NFL broadcasts last year in order to show audiences the way the plays develop after the snap.

"This is a very different world than it was three years ago about how you go to market," Moore said, adding, "This is about talking to [consumers] every single day, showing them things every single day as [the game's] in development. It's about making them feel part of the process instead of the victim of the process, which they often do."

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NorthWolfe

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Well Mr. Moore because of your lack of support for all NHL PC players you'll be loosing a couple of hundred Euros from me this year. Just from memory last year I bought: FIFA10 - 3 (2 as gifts), Madden, NBA, Dragon Age - 2 bought, Cryses 2, Left 4 Dead, NFS Shift, Mirror's Edge, Dead Space and a couple of others I cannot remember. I have bought EA games since I can remember, both to play and as gifts, unfortunately, for EA, this year will be different. Do your math Mr. Moore and figure out just how much money you will be loosing with me alone. There are plenty of places on the Net where I can get your games without opening my wallet. No DLC? Tough, I can live without them (but I wont have to)! With how many more lost customers can you live with before loosing your job???

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norbykov

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I keep wondering... Is EA making worse sports game, or are we (the ones who kept playing NBA Live ever since '95) just growing up? Is it possible that players under 20 find today's EA games just as fun as we did back in 95? Just wondering... :)

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BeB1796

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they need to make be a pro, like madden has superstar mode.

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raahsnavj

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I can't figure out why I haven't seen NCAA baseball 09 or 2010 yet. Sure 06 didn't make you any money because no one knew about it... then they picked it up from the bargin bin and realized it beats 2K's offering in the baseball arena in every aspect... Also, why haven't they figured out how to have online leagues and tournaments with their sports games? Why not manage a fantasy football, baseball, basketball leagues within the game space? Or have them playable leagues like signing up for a baseball league where you have game nights and such? Instead they appear to just look for ways to do the same old thing with updated rosters or minor mechanic or graphical improvements instead of really letting online gaming help boost their franchises and take it to the next level...

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modem22

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I really really hate this guy, go away soon please. Dissapear and bring back Madden for the pc.

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BtmnHatesRbn

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Peter Moore...I've nothing nice to write about him, so, I'll put this link up for chirps and giggles: << LINK REMOVED >> Ah, 1-Up...another creation of the now-defunct EGM, like GameSpot was originally videogames.com. And NextGen, or Edge, also created IGN, who was bought by GameSpy, and DailyRadar, before going belly-up with the dissolution of next-gen.biz. NextGen was published by those idiots that published Games for Windows magazine, and the former Players' Guide series of magazines.

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JayMezzy

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Their plan should include non-exclusive license rights to the NFL. Give 2K back Football!!

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ldonyo

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If this new plan does not include details on how the future games won't be retreads with new rosters, it wasn't worth making.

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LiLPri3st08

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i think if they want their basketball games to get more sales they should have a superstar mode like they do in madden but make it for the basketball games. start out in highschool then work your way through the marchmadness game then import onto the nba live game that would be awsome if they could pull somthing like that off

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gameking5000

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It must be hard to make things work. For example some countries have their own unique sports. EA sports doesn't create Aussie Rules Football games which is a Australia-only sport.

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richioso

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Not 1 feckin word about Fight Night 4

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Thrice8

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wow, this article had absolutely nothing to do with the NHL franchise that gamespot tagged it to and alerted me about, which has consistently been EA's best sports game for the last 2 years running and was single-handedly responsible for the 311% increase in online play (with its awesome online be a pro mode).

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Evil-Assassinz

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I can't wait till the licences for the football runs out cause then we will see how good ea can do when 2k makes a football game because the 2k5 game was really good better then madden 05 and 06. Ea always makes ok games, but in my opinion 2k makes alot better basketball games. I do love fifa which is always good so they should keep on improving and never trash that game. But it do agree with ChamomileBaths to work on the animations cause in madden sometimes the players do look stiff when they run. But im still with 2k exept for fifa and madden and maybe tiger if i feel like playing it, but had never played nightfight.

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ChamomileBaths

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Madden 09 is a pretty good game in spite of the exclusivity deal they've had for all these years. EA has been redeeming themselves slowly the past couple years and they just have to keep it up. Fight Night 4 looks excellent, Tiger could be exciting on Wii, Fifa is always solid. The problem is everything feels too canned in terms of animations in EA Sports games. As great as NHL 09 was the animations didn't look natural and that's a big detractor for me. 2k and Konami get it right in their games EA has to also. But they're slowly regaining my trust after 2 extremely awful years (06 and 07 seasons).

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MarcJL31

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EA Sports "Its in the game' use to mean something to me. And then you look at recent years. It is really sad that instead of making a good game, companies by out contracts instead. I see why 2K got the baseball license because EA was buying everything up. Just as a lot of people have stated, competition brings the best out of developers. They have to make the game the best they can because the consumer has another choice to go to. Madden is a perfect example. I looked forward to see how much better Madden was going to be year after year. But now, its just a roster update, maybe a fix improvements or fixes, and add something not even needed and call it revolutionized. Exclusive rights just hurt the consumers. I was a die-heart NCAA March Madness fan until next gen came out and I had to get College Hoops because it was the only PS3 College Basketball game at the time and I saw what I was missing. And yet this year EA caused problems and CH2K9 was scrapped. And what does EA do, renames it to NCAA Basketball 09 and release a game that didnt even compare to CH 2K8. All I am saying is let the consumer choose which fanchise they want to go with. Give us a choice instead of buying exclusive rights. EA can make good games. We have all played them. But I think they have steered clear of their true roots, just as many companies now days have. Its easy for him to say they listen to consumers, when clearly they don't enough. Invest the money into the devs instead of rights and make a game that will make us want to go buy it. Not have to because it is the only one avaliable.

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simonsworld

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am with you buffdaddy same goes for fifa series most intelligent gamers know pro evo soccer is the more realistic football game, but fifa (EA) has all the licences,offical teams etc it not right, if there 2 or 3 games with offical licences it be great for competition,be better for the consumer also, more choice etc and push them to make better games, rarther than a (yearly) update,i guess it easy cash.

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buffdaddy69

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I will never, ever buy a sports product from EA just due to the fact they have a monoply going on when it comes to the football games. Year after year they dish out Madden, and people are stupid enough to buy it. THe reason why Madden sucks so much ass right now, Is because EA has no competition when it comes to football games. Legit competition anyway. If they werent greedy pricks, I can garentee EA would be dishing out Madden games that were actually good, BUt instead its the same game every year, a few stats are updated, rosters are changed, and its some idiot on the front cover, who will end up getting ether injured or having a craptastic season. Don't really care what people think about what I had to say when it comes to this, But its simple. If theres no other Football Games that can actually use the NFL and all their teams, Then EA wouldn't be putting out **** because they would actually be focused on one uping the other developer making a NFL game to show people "This NFL game is better then the other NFL game" I guess EA's gameplan is to put a monoply on MLB and NHL games as well.

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Rottenwood

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Lemme guess: the game plan is to release a new game for each sport each year, with a few minor graphical upgrades, a roster update, and one new feature that's usually pretty poorly thought-out? ZING!

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Radium217

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Stop YAPPING fool.. Dammit!!! BRING BACK SSX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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StSk8ter29

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Bring back SSX with a completely new mountain (don't just copy the mountain from ssx3 for the third time) and I may just give a damn.

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gmaster666

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read this article looking for one thing "EA bought back the mlb license...MVP10 is coming" but to my luck no!!!!

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Jericho66

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The European/Oceanic and South African markets are crying out for a next-gen rugby game, I heard a while back that EA South Africa wanted to make it.

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gameking5000

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About time EA sports started expanding now.

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pilot_riaz

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i still remember playing Fifa 2000 and liked this better than Fifa 07/08

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tig1979

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FIFA is getting better but it still riddled with bugs and the players don't always move where you want them to go, the EA game for me this year has got to be Fight Night 4, if it's anywhere as good as number 3, they promise much better though, it's going to be awesome!

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sj_nehama

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This is a very different world than it was three years ago about how you go to market," Moore said, adding, "This is about talking to [consumers] every single day, showing them things every single day as [the game's] in development. It's about making them feel part of the process instead of the victim of the process, which they often do Somebody would please shout this to Square Enix ?

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BenGenio

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EA should consider globalizing a Baseball game and launch it in Europe!

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Unlimitedbigdad

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I love FIFA series. And every year it's getting better and better.

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TexasAnMGrad2K

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EA Sports...blah. I still play a couple of their games though, because there are no other NCAA football games and nothing even comes close to Fight Night. I miss Triple Play from the PS1 days. If you ask me, 2KSports games were much better when they were still owned by Sega. NFL 2K5 was awesome!

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HFViking55

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@DeeCrutch I completely agree that it has come to the point I won't pick up a current year's sports franchise simply because they threw the next number on the end of the title. I bought Madden '09 CE for the PS3 because I hadn't purchased a next gen madden since Xbox was still "next gen." At this point, the only features EA and 2K sports seem to add worth my money are some of the retro games in the CE versions, which more often than not are not the greatest selling points. I would love to see the MLBPA/MLB wise up and end their contract with 2K sports so we could see some 360 baseball love again via well made games like sony's MLB09. Just like the NFL with EA, it seems to me that exclusivity has bred complacency in these companies and as long as the consumer keeps dishing out for a new Madden just because the number is higher than the one they own now, we're doomed to rehashes of previous years game with a new athlete on the cover. At least it makes the job incredibly easy for game reviewers.

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motownboy

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swamptick is EXACTLY right. Look at EA's best titles: They have continually had to compete with the NHL 2K series and the result is NHL 09, a game of the year... FIFA has become vastly improved because of the hardcore players' preference for Pro Evolution. Granted, NBA Live has LOST ground on the NBA 2k series, but I would bet that the lackluster NCAA and Madden franchises would vastly improve with stiff competition...

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kungfuj0

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@Bdjohnst EA can't bring back MVP baseball, at least not with MLB stuff. In response to EA buying up all the football licenses, 2K bought the MLB license and fixed it so that only 1st party (aka Sony, Nintendo, MS, directly) can make games based on MLB other than 2K itself. It was a blatant move to get EA out of the baseball market, and it worked. The only way we'll ever see MVP (or something like it) again is if MS or somebody buys the game engine and whatnot from EA and then makes their own baseball game with it.

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Bdjohnst

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EA really needs to work on their basketball franchise. I was pissed that NCAA Basketball '09 was the only NCAA basketball game available, and it sucked. Madden's been alright, but running needs work. EA Sports Active might be a good idea, since Wii Fit was so popular. They also really need to bring back MVP Baseball. Make it Xbox 360 exclusive. I have a PS3 so I can play MLB The Show, but I really want a baseball game for my 360.

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housy2008

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Hope Fifa 10 is craaaaazy

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kungfuj0

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Talk is cheap, Pete. You want to grow the EA Sports brand and improve its perception, especially amongst its core audience of people, like me, then here's what you do. FIX THE **** THAT WE HAVE BEEN COMPLAINING ABOUT WITHIN SOME OF THOSE GAMES FOR YEARS NOW!!!!!! Where is my Owner Mode in Madden? How come Live hasn't truly been any good since 2004??? You see, Pete, you're not losing customers because of games like Rock band or whatever else. You're losing customers because they quality of your games is suffering. I love playing sports games, and I've been playing them since the old Atari Basketball game with the stick figure players and the square ball, so I know what I'm talking about here. I have been playing Madden since '92, and I was playing Live before they started calling it Live, and it has literally bugged the hell out of me to see some of these games take backwards steps from year to year and from generation to generation. That is the thing you guys need to work on, Pete. Fix the things that were wrong with last year's version FIRST, then add something new if there's enough dev time left. Don't just throw in some new feature on top of the same flawed gameplay and expect people like me to just buy it and be happy with it. I am at the point now where I don't buy Madden or Live (or the 2K games for that matter) any more. I rent them first to see how they play and to see what has or hasn't been fixed since last year. Gameplay is king in all games, but that is especially true for sports games. If the gameplay isn't right, it won't matter what else you try to throw on top of it. It's like eating a bad hamburger...if the meat is bad, it doesn't matter how much mustard and ketchup (or other crap) you put on it, it's still going to suck. In short, talk is cheap, Pete. Let's see if any of your words come through in the form of better games. I WILL be watching....

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Eazy1891

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maddens a' ight...could b much better.....but with live it actually was better then 2k this year....also...yes nhl 09 is rolly all they got going 4 them....i just hope madden actually gets better instead of a roster update nd sum graphic enhanced visuals...

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twashington9737

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swamptick - First off, Madden 09 was the best Madden to date, imo, even with the glitches. The gameplay was much more fun than it has been. And as for Madden 10, go check ALL the "Madden Monday" updates they've been posting since early Feb and tell me if they are still "mired in complacency" - << LINK REMOVED >>

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360luver4ever

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I'm still not buying live jus keep improving the NCAA and MADDEN

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Normaral85

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EA would be crazy not to focus on creating a new ip to utilize the motion plus function, but When they unveil a new lineup. EA needs to equally attack all platforms for ultimate sales increase. Don't just push the envelope on the Wii but push the Graphics systems and have something special and innovative for them each year with your sports games and your other endeavors.

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Jedi_Dad

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@VolcanoMan001 I agree, although you confused me for a sec. I thought you were talking about Microsoft... wait a minute...

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CPM_basic

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The only EA sports game I like right now is NHL 2009. It's sad but I'll be one of dirty consumers that buy the game year after year... as long as it's good. I always check out the competition first though. NHL 2007 was crap and I bought 2k7 over it.

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VolcanoMan001

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All this is just useless talk. Their main plan is and always has been: buying up all exclusive licenses and killing competition.

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swamptick

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The best thing EA could do is stop monopolizing sports. Competition will be good for them. They don't have to PUSH themselves because there is nobody PUSHING them. I like EA and buy allot of their games, but they started to go downhill when they took over all football video games that had the NCAA and NFL license. The VAST majority of the games they sell are American Football games. For them to not have any real reason to out-do a competitor, they have become mired in complacency. EA.....get back to what makes you great! You have been great and you could be again, but don't try to boost sales by out spending your competition!

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ftjx

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EAs Wii stragety will pay of I'm sure

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jfpime

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@universquall: I was expecting some news about SSX and NBA Street aswell :P

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crazybro1

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5th

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Universquall

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Ctrl+F SSX He really must have something over EA for them to keep him in charge >_

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deactivated-5f0932068c331

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EA sports games are boring

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wellbigd

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tho i like live 09 this maybe the year i go 2k. but FNR4 is a Must Buy

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wellbigd

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lolz first

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