Madden NFL 11 News Post

One more nugget from the Cowen and Company piece is that Madden sales are in fact down 18% year over year for the month of October:

"Even with disappointments for NHL 11 and Medal of Honor, EA's software sales grew 17 percent year over year in October. EA Sports MMA sold 45,000 units, and the Madden NFL franchise is down 18 percent year over year."

If you recall, I predicted in a blog post back in late August ('Are Madden Sales Slipping?') that Madden sales would probably end up down even after initial reports showed the game's sales were up 12% back in August. But an 18% drop was far more than I ever expected, that's nearly a 1/5 cut in top-line revenue from one of EA's biggest franchises on a Y-o-Y basis. If the trend continues, Madden sales could end up down substantially with the all-important Winter Shopping Season approaching.

That's incredibly bad news.

There is a lot of speculation as to why sales have slowed so much so fast, but I believe the reasons are the same now as I initially thought back then: consumers aren't impressed with the direction of the Madden series with so many other options for them to partake in. The longevity of the game is definitely in question and the word of mouth factor seems to be non-existent this year.

This is easily a referendum on the direction of the direction of the series, especially if trends continue to hold through December. I initially thought there wouldn't be much panic from the suits at EA, but this was before the Elite Fiasco hit the world, so now you can never be too careful when trying to prognosticate what EA might do next.

No doubt the decision makers at EA know exactly about the slip in sales of the Madden franchise, which are slowing substantially moreso than previous years after being on store shelves. So whatever panic decisions/reshuffling you would expect have probably already been made in some regards, although some may not be made until the Christmas shopping season is over. There is definitely increasing pressure on the Madden team to perform, and if sales do come in flat to somewhat down there could be some changes to the gameplan going forward.

This is definitely not good news for gamers who have liked the direction of Madden for the past couple of years if this trend holds into the Christmas shopping season. Also just as alarming is Madden's shrinking sales to the hardcore gamers on the top platforms, with sales down between 30% and 40% depending on how you calculate game sales and from whom from it's high in the middle of the last decade.

This is an interesting story we'll continue to follow. In the meantime, do you think we'll see some big changes in the direction for Madden NFL 12?

[ Update ] It's not clear whether Cowen and Company's analyst was commenting on the entire sales volume from Aug-Oct or just in the Month of October. Either way, that would only slightly give the news a bit less negativity for EA -- but it'd still be very negative news. We'll keep on this story.

[ Update #2 ] After analyzing the data and receiving word from a few trusted analysts this is definitely a Monthly drop from last October of 18%. This means after Madden sales started out on a rush, they have plummeted as the product has stayed on store shelves. The real test will be the Christmas shopping season. Roughly 30% of Madden's sales come from Christmas-time sales. If sales are still down substantially in November and then December, things could get ugly for EA. As it is right now though, this is a sharp drop worth watching. Edited the original article to reflect these clarifications.

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Member Comments
# 1 ryan36 @ 11/17/10 03:10 PM
I think EA will misinterpret this data. Sales are down because of the oversimplified high offense approach, and lack of realism...not because it's too complicated.

They'll try to make the only gameplay option one-button, and then wonder why sales are down again. The way to simplify the game is to make good AI so the user doesn't have to hot-route and audible to get the game to play well.

Or , alternatively, maybe they'll do what they should and start over. The reason sales are down isn't because new people aren't picking up Madden, it's because the faithful aren't. It's the only NFL game out there, if it's fun people will learn to play it. This year's game just felt unfinished to me because of the commentary. Maybe if we can get some more polish, that'll help.

If they try to cast a wider net, they'll fail.
# 2 Senator Palmer @ 11/17/10 03:23 PM
There were many around here rooting for this scenario so that the game could return to sim roots. But I think that's too much to hope for. I think Ryan and MMChris are right, increasing market share means increasing gimmicks, not sim. Sim is probably viewed by marketing as "niche", which doesn't bring in new buyers. Niche isn't what you want out of a flagship franchise.
# 3 ryan36 @ 11/17/10 03:31 PM
They need to look at the Show and NBA 2k11...those titles are moving. They're sim. If they go arcade, they won't help things. I hope they realize this.

Besides, I thought Peter Moore was gonna "monetize" us by now? With this and NBA elite, and NHL 11 being disappointing...and NCAA being never enough to drive the sports division- is the board of directors gonna make a move? I think at some point, a change higher than Phil Frazier is coming.
# 4 RGiles36 @ 11/17/10 03:32 PM
Originally Posted by ryan36
If they try to cast a wider net, they'll fail.

I can see why EA tries to take this approach with Madden, and while the game has improved, it doesn't have a unified focus and it shows in the final product.

I've grown tired of comparing Madden to other sports games, but it seems games like NBA2K have a singular focus: to be the most authentic NBA game down to the very fine details. That includes gameplay, presentation, atmosphere, everything.

Madden tries to be everything to everybody, and while I see what they're attempting to do, no one is completely satisfied. It doesn't work.
# 5 l3ulvl @ 11/17/10 03:36 PM
If they could manage getting the commentary/presentation to be anywhere near that of NBA 2K11 they'd make a huge stride in righting the ship. Also, I'm in favor of completely revamping the on field gameplay. Just give more real-physics collisions and fewer canned "suction" animations. Of course, none of this hasn't been mentioned before, but these are specifically what I'm rooting for.
# 6 RGiles36 @ 11/17/10 03:37 PM
Originally Posted by ryan36
They need to look at the Show and NBA 2k11...those titles are moving. They're sim. If they go arcade, they won't help things. I hope they realize this.
How many times does this need to be said though? Years ago, it was they need to look at 2K5. And from an immersive standpoint, they still can't hold a candle to this game. So they can look at these games all they want, but if they don't reorganize and focus their efforts, then it's not going to work.

The only issue is that if they re-focus their game on a specific segment of gamers, who do they cater to? The sim gamers or the casuals?
# 7 ryan36 @ 11/17/10 03:40 PM
What amazes me is how they could let this stuff go for so long. Add more devs, and get it right.

It's OBVIOUS what sports gamers want, and have always wanted...

Simple math:
(ANY of the best selling titles over history) + (copy them)= success
# 8 Facts @ 11/17/10 03:45 PM
EA, sim gamers equal success. Year in and year out. Casual gamers will only play you one year and move on. Anybody still playing Mario Party 79098? Didn't think so.

Do as we say and you'll get the money. Just ask Mike Wang.
# 9 Blitzburgh @ 11/17/10 03:49 PM
Ok, here is my take on this game from an older gamer that has played them all. I don't play it nearly as much as used to because it just feels stale to me. In order for them to pick up new players and get the old player back is to A). make the game LOOK different. B). It must play different C). Season modes must be addictive

What I mean by A). this game has really looked the same since last gen except for the higher res HD graphics. There are no new playable camera angles or innovative cameras. There is no user create cameras. There should be multiple camera angles taking place through-out the play on the field. When I run the ball I want a certain camera, when I pass I want another one, when I kick field goals... you get my point. They are and have been all the same for years.

B). The feel of this game really hasn't changed much over the years either. Players still slide around and even though improvements have been made to locomotion and pro tack it really is a small improvement over all IMO.

C). doesn't need much explanation... It needs to be user friendly and addictive.


# 10 MMChrisS @ 11/17/10 03:59 PM
Originally Posted by Dewie12
Not making a PC version....I would have bought two versions.

Let's see EA abandon the PC market and cancelled a game and now are seeing low sales on their top flight game. I guess PC piracy is a real big deal......

EA is a dying monolith. Peter Moore where are you? FIFA comes out for the PC right?
Not to say I wouldn't want a PC version, but at best a PC version would account for 5% of the total sales volume for Madden, so this isn't a no PC version issue I'm afraid
# 11 Noles4ever @ 11/17/10 04:00 PM
good maybe another year of down sales and changes will be made.
# 12 MMChrisS @ 11/17/10 04:05 PM
Originally Posted by Noles4ever
good maybe another year of down sales and changes will be made.
A nearly 20% drop is enough to get changes made now.

Especially when just 5-6 years ago the game was selling almost double what it is today in just pure units.
# 13 The GIGGAS @ 11/17/10 04:05 PM
I would love to believe that they'll change, but if I know the EA brass... they'll have blamed it on a bad economy, and not changed courses.

We'll see what we get with Madden 12, although I haven't been holding my breath for a while.
# 14 Juiceman612 @ 11/17/10 04:09 PM
I skipped Madden 09 due to it being stale. I bought 10 because I wanted football again. Then I realized the franchise mode was boring and even 1 on 1 online got stale to me. So I picked up NCAA not having bought it before and I'm hooked. It's all I play. I do think the gameplay is better in NCAA, but drop that point and what has me immersed in NCAA? The dynasty mode. It's addictive. The fact is NFL regular season games in a Madden franchise don't feel important. NCAA has a better football atmosphere from in-game play to recruiting, etc.

I'm not saying I have the answers - but I am saying it's gotta feel addictive like others have previously mentioned. NCAA, in my opinion, has that addictive feeling. And I'm a WAY bigger NFL fan, FWIW.
# 15 Game4fun @ 11/17/10 04:18 PM
The reason for me is because speed dictates everything. It's not real when the best players are always picking the Raiders and beating anyone because of the speed they have on defense. The raiders are not anything special in the real world However they continue to be the best team every year.

Also the best players always pick the same plays over and over= MONEY PLAYS. It seems to many the more plays you pick the chances of you fumbling increase and NOT all plays work. IMO it's like they can't ever get all the plays to work correctly. I have no idea how to make a video game But even I know If your making a game for the NFL fan or football fan you have to make it more realistic in gameplay for people to want to pick up again.

I don't plays as much lately because in my opinion it's no0t as realistic as some people make it out to be. Theres a ton of glitches exploits and overall limations for what I can do as far as a play calling standpoint. For example I have tried over and over to do play action and curls. Those plays never work for me. That can be due to lack of skill or lack of gameplay. I'm just saying. I have heard people say they can do those plays all the time and I have heard players say they can hardly do them.

But sense I have about 150 games in online I think Curls and play action don't work because they result in INT's and sacks. IMO it's like every year you just gotta find the plays that work and throw out all the other ones that don't work. I'm not saying they should work all the time But the majority of the time I havent had any succsess with those kinda plays.

I won't get into all the little things that drive me crazy as a Madden Fanatic because I know it's not easy making a football game But I think IMO the final product could be better then what I paid 60 dollars for this year.
# 16 Evan_OS @ 11/17/10 04:21 PM
Originally Posted by The GIGGAS
I would love to believe that they'll change, but if I know the EA brass... they'll have blamed it on a bad economy, and not changed courses.

We'll see what we get with Madden 12, although I haven't been holding my breath for a while.
I don't think EA is going to say it's just a bad economy and not change courses. Losing nearly 20% sales isn't good.They know they're sales are dropping, and they know if they don't step it up and get some more sales in, it might not be pretty.
# 17 idesign2 @ 11/17/10 04:21 PM
I bought the game first day, but then sold it a few days later. The game was just too stale and boring for me. At this point I'm not sure what they could do to get me to purchase future releases. I suspect EA will need some competition from a second NFL game in order for real change to occur. Not holding my breath on that, though.
# 18 ryan36 @ 11/17/10 04:23 PM
Originally Posted by The GIGGAS
I would love to believe that they'll change, but if I know the EA brass... they'll have blamed it on a bad economy, and not changed courses.

We'll see what we get with Madden 12, although I haven't been holding my breath for a while.
Unscientifically , this means their "NFL exclusive title" would be moving close to zero units in 5 years , due to rate of decline.

I think losing a fifth (almost ) is way too large even for EA to blame on the economy.

Think of what they did with Elite...they drastically changed it because "sales are down in all basketball video games" and ruined it...but 2k11 is up this year, because it's an awesome title.

Nope, I think this big of a decline= them not being self deluded enough to blame on anything but a subpar product.
# 19 jyoung @ 11/17/10 04:28 PM
They tried to fix the gameplay this year by adding "locomotion," and instead, ended up completely breaking the defense.

The result?

Madden 11 is actually more frustrating to play than Madden 10.

God forbid you try to take the game online, where you will see gameplay that doesn't even resemble football.

It's long past time to get EA Tiburon out and get a new developer in with a fresh take and new engine.

This year's game proved that EA Tiburon can't even tape a band-aid to the current broken engine without throwing the gameplay off-balance and out of whack.
# 20 pietasterp @ 11/17/10 04:29 PM
What immediately caught my eye was that the peak of the Madden sales was mid-decade....which is about 2004-2005. Remember that year? The last year we had more than 1 NFL game to choose from? Coincidence? Maybe....

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