AaronS wrote:So even if the development and marketing costs are $50-75mil, think of what they've made on this game over the years!!
.. and they STILL can't turn out a product that was AS GOOD as the one they were making a decade ago!
I had a former acquaintance who worked for a small dev (nothing to do with EA) and according to him, the FIFA games have a large dev team and Madden has been done on a shoestring budget since the exclusive deal. Like, indie developer-type of shoestring budget (he worked for an indie developer at the time). He also personally knew guys who worked for Blizzard, so he may have been comparing EA to Blizzard. At any rate, EA was even hiring non-programmers from the OS sports website to join the development team based entirely on their roster updates...
Anyway, from what he told me when I was discussing the PLYT tag (and its effect on everything in-game) with him a couple years ago, development is likely almost entirely based around 3D graphics and new user interface/rosters (to make the product look
new every year). His opinion about the gameplay of the PS2/XBox engine vs PS3/360 engine was that they were different engines, the "new" one got screwed up, and because feature development was never the focus of the dev team (after the exclusive), they stuck with that crappy engine from Madden 07 (360) through Madden 25 due to a lack of resources from the continually shrinking budget. In my opinion they did appear to tweak the engine for either 11 or 12 (12 plays way better than all the previous ones from 07-11) but its still a mess. Just from watching YouTube videos of M16/17 it's obvious the focus is still on making it look
like a new game every year, rather than developing one.
I actually just recently read an article about the head of NBA 2K17 stating in an interview that 2K is "bigger" than Madden, the argument being that 2K doesn't have exclusive rights to the NBA so instead it forced them to develop a superior product to out-compete the competition. Can't argue with him. Nobody benefits from exclusive rights. I guarantee there would be more sales and royalties for the NFL if EA and 2K were both developing NFL titles every year. I know of several guys who used to buy both every year. And if you look at the vast improvements (for both EA and 2K titles) from 2001 to 2005, it's clear as day that competition benefitted the product more in those 5 years than the complete lack of competition from Madden 07 through 17.
But yea, EA is a numbers company. Sales shrink, budget shrinks. $250,000,000 is a lot of money and increasing a development budget by $20-30M may not recoup the same amount in sales, but spending more on advertising is a proven strategy. So mediocrity wins the boardroom. Hooray for non-competitive monopolized market niche and video games.