Hello again N4G. I actually had all of this typed and ready for mass consumption last night, but my computer mysteriously crashed and I had to use other means to complete the article, and thank goodness I was able to salvage most of it and piece it back together.
As promised, I would share with News 4 Gamers members any and all follow up that EA might shed on the reluctant subject du jour lately, which is the deficient version of EA's yearly installment of Madden Football, the dubious distinction falling on Sony's PlayStation®3.
Again, I want to reiterate something I've said all along and that is, I have nothing personal against EA nor anything to gain except the truth and maybe a little peace of mind for others. I have loved and played their games loyally for years and have hardly been inclined to comment on such matters until the player complaints, inaccuracies and seemingly rushed products, reached a tipping point for myself and gamers around the world who also enjoy EA products. You don't get to be the world's largest at something, unless you're doing something right for a sustained period of time. But sometimes the "right" thing can get so big and ubiquitous that it loses sight of what got it there in the first place. A little divergence off path may need an extra - special budging to get back on track again and on with the show.
With that said, the latest response came to me via someone named EA RepWalsh w/Player Relations. However, the heading of the dialog box seems to come from the enigmatic faceman/fixer of EA complaints in the PR dept., Group Manager (GM) Petrucchio, who from previous responses I've seen, seems to be a very busy person within EA, defending player complaints with deft swiftness and assurances of remedies to what "ails" them. The statement from player relations though is virtually signed by "EARep Walsh" which can be seen as either a joint effort or a way to try and confuse people looking to uncover the reasons behind putting out a game that's akin to boarding a plane with only one wing while the captain insists that everything is "okay". Since I don't know, I won't speculate further.
Furthermore, I would like to shed some more light on my involvement with this firestorm especially as it relates to the poignant, direct, and seemingly honest answer that Mr. Rob M. with the EA Sports Technical Support Team was gracious enough to divulge to me, the "PSNation", and gamers worldwide on Tuesday 14th. I think most gamers were understanding and satisfied with the explanation given in the response from EA, as this would only make sense for the glaring inadequacies between Madden '08 on the PS3 and the Xbox 360, despite what EA producers were touting about the looming Madden Holiday:
-- "Happy Maddenoliday! As you know, we've been raving about the game for the past 6 months and that can only mean so much, but the reviews are finally out and it has been such a relief to see that the critics agree (we're sitting around a 90 average)!
Owner Mode, Gang Tackling, Branching Animations, Spectacular Catches and Mid-Air Collisions, Strip Ball Control, True Double Team and Zone Blocking, Auto-Motion, Trick Plays, The Lateral, More New Ratings, Hurdles and Hurdle Tackles, Hit Stick 2.0, Elite Player Weapons, Showcase and Trophies, Create-a-Team, Busts and Gems, and so much more!
This is without a doubt the best Madden yet! Hope you can get one today and enjoy it.
If you've already gotten a copy, how are you spending your Maddenoliday?
Published 08.14.07 10:37 PM by admin
Filed under: Ian Cummings, Game Play, Producer, Madden08" --
As you can clearly see, Mr. Cummings expects PS3 Madden owners to enjoy the "holiday" and report on how we're spending it, which conjures up so many butt - of - joke comments about this version of the game, it's nearly unfair. Yeah, we'll be taking that holiday not by choice - and likely without pay it seems. Since the story first broke about this difficulties of programming that EA seemed to have with the PS3 version, a firestorm of activity has been flying around the internet, the likes of which QUARTERMANN himself might be inclined to think is a little out of control.
In fact USA Today came out with a blast of their own and blatantly stated the obvious truth and contradicting what Mr. Cummings was selling:
-- " On the surface, the releases on 360 and PlayStation 3 look identical. However, when you stack them head-to-head, it's clear which is better. Madden on 360 is fast and fluid, thanks to a sharp jump in frame rate that allows the game to move twice as fast." --
PS3 owners, unfortunately, are greeted with a Madden that is sluggish in comparison. Action stutters far too often, particularly on injuries, penalties and turnovers. There's also a half-second delay between pressing the hike button and receiving the ball in your hands. Even close-ups between play look dull when lined up against the 360's sleeker cut scenes." -- USA Today http://news.yahoo.com/s/usatoday/20070814/tc_usatoday/xbox360versionofmaddennfl08sticksittops3
When I sent in the scathing and admittedly, over the top letter to EA for the first time, many were questioning whether or not it was real. In fact Gamespot has the story under rumor control on their site (http://www.gamespot.com/news/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=25852439&sid=6176704&tag=latestnews;title;2) and I can tell you all (as you've most likely deduced by now) most certainly, that it was not fake, nor a rumor and indeed is real. Members of N4G.com got to see the entire letter in it's unretouched form before this became such a huge issue and the language I used was omitted, and I understand that. I was literally incensed and perplexed between what I was hearing from the producers and developers vs. what was being thrown out to PS3 owners like scraps, followed up my a massive Xbox LIVE Madden '08 commercial blitz. Was EA trying to tell us something then? Should I have reserved the game and an Xbox Premium at the same time?
One would think with the largesse that a game like the Madden series carries and demands, anyone who commented on this subject in such a frank and to the point manner would be in a "lead position" or at the very least some sort of senior representative of the group, especially when using words like "we" and "our" from the prolific likes of an Electronic Arts. And for that I am guilty of attaching one  word when referencing Mr. Rob M. in EA Sports Technical support group and that word was, senior. Is that a crime? Was I out of line? Hard to tell since Petrucchio and Walsh have interesting designations themselves on the same discussion, unless Petrucchio was signing off on what Walsh was saying. Nevertheless, that is the only reason I can imagine why GM Petrucchio calls into question my alleged "twisting" of the facts. Certainly it wasn't the correction of minor typos or my censored personal email could it? Maybe it was the photo of "Tank Man" halting the progression of tanks at Tiananmen Square, that stuck a chord, but you tell me the last time a corporation listened to the voice of one consumer and actually did something about it? Sadly and unfortunately these instances can be counted on one hand. Was it this "quick spreading turn around" he spoke of even after I clearly stated that the response would be disseminated on News4Gamers.com
So, in response to my validity and assertion I have reposted the following exchange with follow up for you review in it's original form at the bottom of my editorial, so that you can judge for yourselves if there was an injustice done by Madden's Raiders; I have nothing to hide.
Nevermind the fact that Todd Sitrin, EA Sports VP of Marketing and Branding affirmed Rob's statement when he could have easily dismissed this as a what else, but a rumor or at the very least an ill-informed statement by someone in the EA Sports Technical Support Department. Hard to do? No, of course not - it's done all the time in business, and this only made EA look better in the gamer public's eyes by admitting to understandable shortcomings and at the least difficulty of programming for the PS3, instead of assuring us that this was "the best way" to play the game on the PS3:
-- "Every company making a football game this year made a decision that the best experience for the Xbox 360 included 60 fps whereas the best experience for the PS3 was 30 fps," he told GameSpot. "We certainly believe that both the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of our football products are outstanding experiences and recommend that each gamer look at the entire experience, not just one aspect. We think they'll be very happy no matter which version of the game they play." --
I accepted Rob's answer and so did many others including the EA Marketing veep, but this latest accusation of twisting of facts and an imminent "official" statement by the development team makes me wonder if that is even true. Now I'm not sure if we'll ever know, since EA Player relations has engaged in radio silence against me, and attempted to debunk the story from my end and effectively call into question my reputation with this "twisting".
I believe that the Sitrin and Karraker statements were "official" and right on message, but news from the development team will be more official? Ok fine, I guess they will explain then how other multi-platform games like Oblivion, the Darkness, and Rainbow Six Vegas, albeit not 60fps games, looked great and got great reviews on the Xbox 360 and the PS3, [with different development lead times I might add] and the outcomes as we all know were terrific copies of the games on two different consoles with different architectures, from the same companies. With that, there's quite a bit to be said then about Activision's proclamation of 60 fps achieved for the great looking COD4 on both consoles. Do they have a greater grasp of the hardware since lead time in this case is negligible? Go figure. If true, how were they were able to wrangle the intricacies of both machines and achieve high levels of parity on the PS3 and XBox 360 consoles while Madden, one of the most important games for the North American gaming audience (and that is not an understatement), could have gotten it so wrong?
Taking that into account, more lead time on the Xbox 360 (in the case for Madden '08) would make sense, unless there is some other reason the development team at EA feel they need to make an official statement on the PS3 version of Madden '08.
For me, Jack Tretton' statement:
--"Their explanation [EA] of having more time under their belt on the Xbox is completely logical," --
...suffices, and I'm sure for many others as to why the PS3 version of the game is inferior. And guess what? As old school and nex-gen gamers alike, we're mature and savvy enough to understand and accept that fact. The only thing wrong with this entire mess is that the game should have been delayed or reduced in price for the PS3 version. We're used to it by now and from the looks of it, would have saved a lot of confusion and grief on the matter and I would be looking forward to playing the game in its full form on the Xbox 360 now or PS3 later in the Fall, knowing that both are great renditions of Madden, instead of pointing out huge gaps in statements made about the game versus what would be sitting in the slot loader of the PlayStation3 and the disc tray of the Xbox 360.
Instead, Madden just ends up looking like a huge advertisement for Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE, as well it should be for the "full" HD experience. Somehow I can't help but think that Mr. Moore is sitting, relaxed on a sleek Barcelona or Hammacher Schlemmer right now with a wee bit of coy satisfaction beaming from the corner of his eyes thinking, "I told you so, I told you so."
If Sony's NBA game and MLB The Show can run at 60fps on a system that launched in November 2006, then why in reason couldn't the world's largest developer not work their magic on Madden just the same? You would think that the long running relationship between these two old mutually beneficial partners - Electronic Arts' Madden team and SCEA especially on the PS2 - never happened. Why the disconnect guys, and please don't say it's the "money".
I have my own reasons but that only makes for good conspiracy talk and we know this is not a conspiracy, right? Surely not.
I ask the question, for once can something be done just for the "greater good" instead of money, being the common denominator? Ruining what should otherwise might likely have been a 9/10 masterpiece on both or all systems -- I mean come on, this is Madden for pete's sake. Ah yes, I remember those great gaming days when the quality of the final game product actually mattered; I guess I'm just getting old and out of touch, but I digress.
And one more thing, for the love of all that's right EA, if you do nothing else but cast my thoughts to the nearest wire mesh wastebasket, please, bring back Mr. John Earl Madden to the microphone. The homer announcer is worse than listening to my own hometown announcer spew off like a wild man over the smallest little trip or break of a tackle. I'll even take Tony Bruno back. At least when I travel to other states, the radio announcer's voice changes. Hell, Madden and Summerall were the BEST, and since that'll never happen again Madden and Al will do (no offense AL, but Summerall's voice was just epic on the old Madden games) just fine.
In closing, I want to sincerely thank each and every one of you that have supported me in this pursuit of the truth and search for justice, regarding the hard earned money we spend and the item(s) received in return from one of our most senior and beloved developers out there: Electronic Arts. The mail (most of it) has been warm and your voices heard, never forgotten.
So, without further adieu here is the full transcript (minus the original "scolding" entry from me) of the discussion with EA Tech Support, my follow up to the original and succinct response from Rob M., and finally Group Manager / Player Relations Patrucchio's response to me, and essentially all of you; with the original typos to boot. I hope this will put a lid on some of the hate mail I've been getting and rumor mill hype behind this important issue, and gets us back to our drive (no pun intended) and interests of shaping, discussing and playing great games - lest we forget, we are the *customers in "customer service":
FOLLOW UP TO MADDEN'S RAIDERS ORIGINAL QUERY ON JULY 14th, 2007
Response (GM Petrucchio) 08/15/2007 02:18 PM
Thank you for your interest in this matter. At this point, admittedly due in large part to the speed at which Rob's response was circulated yesterday and in some cases twisted a bit, we are going to hold off on commenting further on this issue until we receive an official response from the development team who worked on this game. Once an official response is available it will be posted on the Madden 08' official website. You can also feel free to follow-up with us at a later date in regards to this but at this we, in customer service, will not comment further on this matter.
If you have any other questions or concerns please let me know. Thank you for your continued support of EA Sports and good luck on the playing field.
Customer 08/14/2007 02:22 PM
Thanks for your curt response to my query and the clarification of the framerate issues therein. The guys at News4gamers.com are pouring over the information as we speak and are glad to see some type of response from EA regarding this huge issue of framerate problems on the PS3 version of Madden NFL '08. Like I said before, this is the first time ever that I'm not purchasing Madden and it hurts me to say it, but I refuse to play on a dumbed down version of the game. I have supported you guys loyally for aver a decade and this is not what I was expecting this year at all, as I'm sure other PS3 others weren't either, if I may be so bold to say.
What's more is that the CNN's & USA Today's of the world are taking this issue and running with it as if the PS3 hardware itself is inherintly incapable of handling the game of Madden in its "complete" form. This horrible message is going out across the world over and over again. If you ladies and gentelmen would simply lay out the facts as you so eloquently did in your response to me -- to a major media outlet or VG news source it would speak volumes to the concern you all have about your loyal customers on the Sony side of things and quell the urge of many (on my site) to boycott this year's version of the game.
We all love to play Madden and feel that it's not right ot have to purchase an entire new system in order to get the full effect. I am also aware that you all work your butts off to get the games out in a fiscally responsible manner and you have time constraints that prevent full attention to some platforms -- clarification on this would be nice. I am also aware that Madden is technically one of the richest and deepest games out there on the market. But this does not excuse the paltry attention to competent gameplay, that the PS3 version of the game received. I am holding out hope that next year you guys will have these issues ironed out and I can get back to my yearly installment of this storied franchise. I know that you guys might be laughing all the way to the cafateria about this one, but believe me, there is a firestorm out in the forums and the streets about this issue and an honest and succinct explanation would calm the waters and stop the EA backlash from going any further. I beseech you EA, to do this and set the record straight once and for all regarding the reason for the disparity in an official newsworthy forum or publication. This will not hurt you, but rather exalt you to the heights of a truly caring and conscientious developer.
E A sports: If it's in the game, it's in the game.
But, framerate issues and horrible stability issues are definitely not "in the game".
I thank you again for your attention to this matter and hope we hear from you all soon. We appreciate the games you guys make and hope that EA doesn't start to suffer the reputation of a developer that only cares about one platform and garnering the proceeds from a captivated but ill-informed audience. I think I know better, but would love to hear your perspective.
Madden's_Raiders @ N4G.com (News 4 Gamers)
Customer 08/14/2007 11:07 AM
Response (Robert M.) 08/14/2007 09:28 AM
Thank you for your feedback regarding the issues you've found with Madden NFL 08 for the PlayStation 3 game console. While we fully understand your frustration with the limitations the technology has placed against the video frames per second of the game play on the PlayStation 3 game console, it was out intent to put out the best possible with Madden across 10 platforms. While it is very simple to draw a conclusion based on the end-user experience with the game technology, what most people do not realize is hours of research which goes into fully understanding the hardware demands for each console. In the case of the next-generation consoles, many publishers have been developing titles for the Xbox 360 for over 3 1/2 years while everyone who publishes now for the PlayStation 3 with the exception of Sony has been developing for the PlayStation 3 for only a little over one full year. The differences in the overall knowledge of the hardware is vastly different for both consoles and, as is the case with newer technology, it is very difficult to get it right the first time. As for frame-rate differences, 30 frames per second is the same for all PS 3 football games this year, not just Madden but also NCAA Football, and 2K Sports' offering as well. If you choose not to purchase the game, it is a choice fully understand and respect. Please know that I have passed your feedback and observations on to the game team and hopefully someone within their team will be able to address this matter further.
EASPORTS Technical Support
The query was posted on August 14th, not July 14th, 2007.