CCC: How do you guys feel about the "Madden Curse?" Do you guys ever have anyone hesitate when accepting the cover spot in fear of the curse?Frazier: Being on the cover of Madden is an unbelievable honor for even the biggest stars of the NFL. To date we've never had a player hesitate because of the "curse". NFL football is an extremely rough sport, played by some of the biggest and fastest athletes on the planet. Injuries are unfortunately part of the game. The fact that some of our cover athletes received injuries or suffered from statistically poor seasons immediately after being on the cover of Madden is really a coincidence. Shaun Alexander had an unbelievable season last year, propelling him to the cover of Madden NFL 07. We expect he'll continue to be a dominating back for many years to come.
CCC: Will we ever see the fancy physics that were displayed at E3 with NBA Live in Madden? How do you guys see something like that altering the gameplay experience for a football game?
Ortiz: The physics work that was showcased at E3 is part of an overall EA Sports initiative called Athletic Performance. The goal of Athletic Performance is to build players in our game that move and behave like real athletes. Our first step toward that in Madden is through the work we did with Head and Eye Tracking. This was huge because in the past in Madden, Defense players would make a play on a pass with out ever seeing it, and ball carriers would avoid defenders without ever visually acknowledging them. This has changed in Madden this year where a player actually has to see a threat or the ball to react to it. With Athletic Performance being an EA Sports wide initiative, our intent is to eventually share the unique tech each team is working on across all of the franchises. As for the impact on football, we will have to prototype and see.
CCC: How will you guys integrate single-player gameplay with online gameplay in this year's Madden? How important is the online gameplay for you guys when developing the title.Ortiz: Online gaming is going to continue to grow on console and is a big part of our future plans for the EA Sports and the Madden franchise. One of the online features that we have added this year is a feature that we call Live Opponent. Live Opponent is a feature that allows our user to take any area of our product and seamlessly turn it into an online match up against a human opponent. Game experiences that have traditionally been solitary experiences to the user, like Franchise Mode, are now more social experiences. This feature, and features that we have planned for the future are going to allow us to develop a bigger community around our games that is essential to a great online experience.
CCC: How are you guys translating the console Madden to the PSP and DS? What will convince people to get the handheld even though they have it on their consoles as well?Kiniry: Being able to play a game of Madden anywhere has a lot of appeal. With the DS game we are using the unique platform and bringing controls and features exclusive to the DS. For example our most exciting feature this year is the ability to draw the routes of receivers using the touch screen and stylist; also using the microphone in the DS we've given the ability to call audibles by saying a word. Basically the DS is a unique system and Madden on the DS is a follows the system in giving users a set of unique game play mechanics that we are very excited about.
Singleton: The PSP version of Madden NFL 07 is barely a handheld experience. The graphics, audio and most importantly gameplay experience are on par with the PS2 console version of Madden. On PSP, Madden NFL 07 is all about the running game and lead blocker control... nothing was left out of this version. The only place we made changes were with the controls, where we thought offering both a simple pick up and play and an advanced control scheme would allow the PSP version of Madden to cater to all consumers preferences. Having said that, the number one reason you're going to want both the PS2 and PSP version of Madden NFL 07 this year is so you can play your Madden franchise experience 24/7. This year's PS2 Link feature not only supports single game spawn experiences, but also supports full franchise portability. This means you can transfer your PS2 franchise game over to your PSP, take off to work or on a road trip and continue on your Franchise session. When you get back home simple transfer your progress back to your PS2 like you never left home. Other reasons for wanting the PSP game are the unique mini-games like End 2 End or PSP-exclusive John Madden videos.
CCC: Is the commentary coming back on the 360 this year, or are we going to continue playing without the booth play-by-play?Ortiz: We are continuing to go with the presentation we went with last year on next-gen where we have Madden cover the Ask Madden feature, where he gives you strategic advice on play-calling, and have gone with the radio announcer and stadium announcer for game commentary.
CCC: Thanks very much for taking the time to speak with us.