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In Depth Reactions to EA / ESPN Deal

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the considerations-from-the-sidelines dept.

Businesses 206

Gamespot has a piece up about industry analyst reactions to the EA / ESPN deal. They span the gamut from appreciation for a smart business move to a frustration with a company throwing its weight around. From the article: "Has the fat lady finally sung in the sports-game wars? Should all the other publishers pack it in and head for the showers? Opinions are mixed, but this week's news was one of the year's biggest wins--for Electronic Arts. Now, the industry girds for a string of earnings calls where executives at publicly traded companies--EA and others--will surely face a grilling from curious analysts."

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Possible Outcome (2, Insightful)

jone5ey (852043) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432806)

If it means that next years Madden on the PC is a finely polished product then I'm all for it. Probably won't happen though.

Re:Possible Outcome (2, Informative)

RealityMogul (663835) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432856)

This years wasn't that bad. I actually played it for 3 minutes before deleting it.

I'd consider buying that Madden 95 sega controller they sell at Wal Mart though. I'm sure they did lots of research and determined that was the last year they put out a good Madden game.

Re:Madden 95 sega controller (2, Interesting)

MaelstromX (739241) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432951)

Madden 95 for the Sega Genesis was indeed a kick-ass game and I'm glad to see them offering it in this form. But of course, there's the huge drawback of having ancient players on there that nobody cares about -- I'd rather play as TEAM PITTSBURGH with QB#7 than the Steelers with Neil O'Donnell. And good thing my favorite team isn't the Ravens, or the Texans, or the Titans (well, that's a good thing anyway).

Why didn't they think to throw the brand new teams and rosters onto the old Madden 95 shell? Wouldn't that be sweet to play an old game like that and get to use Michael Vick or LaDainian Tomlinson (or whomever)? I haven't kept up with the emulation scene lately but if I recall correctly, a lot of guys work hard to recreate those old sports games with new players -- I can't imagine that for a game like Madden 95, EA would have to spend much time at all adapting it given that they have all the data and licensing on hand already.

Re:Madden 95 sega controller (2, Insightful)

robertjw (728654) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433708)

Why didn't they think to throw the brand new teams and rosters onto the old Madden 95 shell?

Simple, how are they going to sell the new game. The only major reason for buying the latest Madden - or any sports game is to upgrade to the latest teams/players/stats/etc... Marketing people would never allow them to sell Madden 95 with an updated roster.

Re:Possible Outcome (2, Funny)

Phu5ion (838043) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433156)

I'm almost certain that it will be a finely polished product, considering we all know that lack of competition provides MORE incentive to produce quality.

Re:Possible Outcome (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433913)

You mean this year's Madden with updated rosters? Yeah, somehow I don't think we are going to be seeing any breakthroughs in gameplay.

Damn (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432814)

Awww shucks,
that looks like an interesting article.
However, I can't spare the time to read it.


EA Employee. (1)

agent (7471) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433301)

I am a fan of Tony Hawk.
Any one want to buy Word Of Mouth? ?

Sega won't go away (4, Insightful)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432817)

Just because EA locked up ESPN branding doesn't mean the others are going to just go away. If the EA line stagnates because they rest on their branding prowess, then others will step in. I can't say its good for the gaming industry, but I certainly don't think its a death knell.

Re:Sega won't go away (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432872)

It is for football; EA has the NFL licensing agreement too. So, for example, Sega's ESPN football has absolutey nowhere reasonable to go.

Re:Sega won't go away (3, Insightful)

Fizzlewhiff (256410) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432938)

No, EA has the two big fanchises and the exclusive NFL contracks. The big draw to sports games is playing your favorite team. EA has locked in the NFL and taken ESPN away from SEGA. I played the Sega NFL game and for the past 2 years they have shown more innovation than Madden, to the point where I don't buy EA's Madden anymore. THis year the $19.99 price tag for Sega made a good thing even better. I don't see how Sega can have success now with a generic football game. I like seeing my team, my city, my players. Sega is going to have to do alot more innovation now to get players.

Next year will be interesting to see what Sega does. It will also be dull only having one choice.

Re:Sega won't go away (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433215)

Sega should just put in some sort of option to download player names and stats as well as team names, cities, and logos from the internet. I'm sure someone with too much time on their hands will fix the licensing problem within days. Especially if Sega puts out tools to make this easily done rather than requiring some sort of in-game editor that makes you using a gamepad to type and draw.

Re:Sega won't go away (1)

rifftide (679288) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433383)

Of course, the default page they provide will contain a database of fake players like "linebacker Terry Tate" - then they'll be shocked, **shocked** when a Shawn Fanning type comes along and builds a real NFL game around it. Something like this might actually happen.

Re:Sega won't go away (2, Insightful)

nolife (233813) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433247)

I don't see how Sega can have success now with a generic football game.

Make it configurable and allow imports of configurations. It would be nice to import teams.bin, stadium.bin, and players.bin and now you have something close to the NFL. Of course I do not know how to handle the audio portion of the commentary. Instead of hearing Bettis carried for 97 yards, you would hear number 33 carried for 97 yards.

Re:Sega won't go away (1)

Fentekreel (634892) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433317)

That would be an amazing feature! Though the audio has been done before. My friend gets updates to his WWE games with full audio fixes for songs players voices etc...all on his jumpdrive. His EA college football is player accurate with audio covers. It is all possable there just needs to be the option. Another idea for SEGA is to just give updates to the 2k5 series though something like xbox live and or Update the actual game through something like Live or xbox magazine. I dont know of any other ways for ps2 other than the jumpdrive to update games....since it doesn't have a hard drive.

Re:Sega won't go away (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11433618)


Real Steelers fan.

Re:Sega won't go away (1)

Hentai (165906) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433717)

My girlfriend's from the south, and having visited her folks two weeks ago, I can assert emphatically that Sega could make a killing - at least in that regional market - selling a football game based on *COLLEGE* teams.

Re:Sega won't go away (1)

darilon (752912) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432943)

I would have to agree whole heartedly. Sega has by far the better product for Hockey at the least. It doesn't really matter which talking head is doing hte announcing in game as long as the game play and 'extras' are all of the same quality. EA's hockey games haven't really been worth it for some time.

Re:Sega won't go away (2, Interesting)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433189)

I think they may be best served my migrating into the College Football domain. The EA franchise there is weak, although it is there unto itself, with no competition. And college football is extremely popular. It could work very nicely. If Sega could get exclusivity from the NCAA that would be a big boon. It may not be possible though, I have no idea how sweeping the NCAA control over marketing and licensing is.

Re:Sega won't go away (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11433288)

Taking a look at the sports games that are produced by SEGA anyone can hope for better. Though the current contract with the NFL an EA will produce a break down in all games that are unable to obtain a license with names and arenas etc. SEGA has shown that they can make a football game that pushes its competitors to take hard action to perserve their dominance as we have seen with EA. Though the Licensing agreement with ESPN puts a new twist on the concept of EA "playing Microsoft" as Sony did by throwing it pocketbook around. With the ESPN Licensing I do not know if it is an exclusive agreement or not. I would assume so though considering EA's current aquision /attmepts(ex: ubisoft). On another note though there is the position of ESPN. They know that No nfl game will survive in the current market without the licensing agreement. Talking to a few people here on my campus they will not evan rent a game that doesn't have their favorite teams and/or player in their home field. Espn is just migrating to where they can "give the best presentation for their audience." Though with EA's current track record i'm suprised that anyone is dealing with them. I wouldn't want to be associated with a company that over works their employees... Sega Though is stuck in an interesting position though with a current nfl license and an ability to update (via xbox live or ps ethernet connection/jumpdrives) The could possiably just update the old game and in the case of xbox live just provide patches to the current game. I'm not sure how legal this really is but IMO it is a possable solution to their NFL troubles. Looking at their other games Hockey BasketBall...and i cant think of any others atm...damn school...they have a definate grip on the basketball genre, and their hockey game is second to none. I havent bought a bakset ball game since NBA JAM and have rented them a few times over the years but ESPN 2k5 Bball was awsome and my neibors still have yet to give it back....heh. Looking at the hockey game...after a little tweaking of the ai there is so much that a player chan change to the game to make it more difficult yet still playable...The presentation of the game is well done and the controls are much better than they are on any EA hockey game made to date...not to mention the online play on xbox live is a very nice touch especially with 4 players. I dont know if EA has changed anything in their games in the past few editions but the ESPN license helped out much for the SEGA sports games...Lets just hope that they dont just tag the ESPN title....

Yes, go away... (1)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433563)

Just because EA locked up ESPN branding doesn't mean the others are going to just go away.

Well, yes, they should go away. They should go away and invent a new game that takes full advantage of the computer medium. Some new game that doesn't just copy the experience of watching a television program based on a bunch of guys running around a field and throwing an odd-shaped ball.
A video game based on football is two-degrees of seperation from the participants of the actual game itself. So go away and invent a game that brings the computer player into the game itself.

What type of game is that? I have no idea; I'm not a game designer. But I'm sure that this game will be more profitable and satisfying than anything ESPN does better on live-action television.

There are a lot of people out there who invent games. They would be willing to exchange their concepts for a percentage of the sales receipts. So instead of spending millions developing a video game based on a sport and a brand-name license in which you MUST have millions of sales units for any reasonable profit, make lots of new games with new concepts. Most will die on the vine, but some will really take off. When that happens, the profits for the game company will be much greater per unit because there won't be all the ESPN-license fees and royalities to pay off.
Sort of like how the record industry is supposed to work.

EA Wins (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432832)

I know you can make a game configurable enough to have names and rosters and even uniformans for real NFL teams be downloadable but on the marketing front is where I think any non-EA unit will struggle since their commercials won't have the rela players.

On the upside, it might force all non-EA game makers to really upgrade their products on the gameplay front since they will have to win by knockout on the "This game is just hands down better than Madden".

Still, I uspect given the general populations proclivities we've seen the end of "major" competition to EA in the NFL arean so get ready for Madden 2005 to be the stanard game you'll be playing until, oh say, 2010.

Re:EA Wins (2, Interesting)

MaelstromX (739241) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433126)

I know you can make a game configurable enough to have names and rosters and even uniformans for real NFL teams be downloadable but on the marketing front is where I think any non-EA unit will struggle since their commercials won't have the rela players.

The other manufacturers will have to focus on 2 main points:

(1) Free and easily downloadable "unofficial" team/roster sets. This will end up even being a plus because nobody will be playing with outdated rosters -- your favorite team can be as current as it was last Sunday (instead of last August).

(2) Price. As long as point (1) is taken care of, a $20 football game could easily compete with $50 or $60 Madden. Sure, it won't compete for first place in sales, as naturally most people will want the official NFL game and feel loyalty to the Madden franchise, but I hope that the other manufacturers don't simply roll over and feel like it's now impossible to create a game that anyone would buy. Rather than leave the NFL video game arena entirely, this is exactly the time for the other guys to, like you said, come out with something that blows Madden away, because God knows the biggest innovations in the next Madden will be (1) the only officially licensed NFL video game and (2) now with realistic ESPN look!

Re:EA Wins (1)

tholomyes (610627) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433781)

You missed one:

(3). Gameplay. I'll use Burnout 3 as an example. It is easily the best racing game many gamers have ever played, and yet, unlike most other games in the genre, it doesn't feature one brand name car-- but has stunning gameplay. It didn't even need heavy marketing, because the word of mouth was so effective. I still enjoy old school NES Double Dribble, for that matter, a basketball game featuring no-name stick figures.

You don't need big names to make a good game, even a sports game.

Re:EA Wins (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433811)

get ready for Madden 2005 to be the stanard game you'll be playing until, oh say, 2010

What? I have to play some crappy football game for five years? Oh wait, you meant standard, and if I were to play football on a computer, which I don't.

I never understood sports re-creation games. I don't even watch football on TV. I like football, but watching it, or playing a computer version of it just seems really boring. I guess if you don't have any friends who are willing to play for real the computer version might make for a really, really lame substitute.

I guess this is just part of the "hoop-dreams" fantasy. I wish I were a famous athlete, but I am too lazy to get off the couch. I guess I'll just play video games and fantasize or something.

Maybe there is some wonderful aspect to the gameplay that I just don't get. I tried an then gave up on these games in short order. Am I missing something?

Re:EA Wins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11433896)

I think your keyboard is broken.

I'm going to hate the day.... (5, Insightful)

matth1jd (823437) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432849)

When there's one football game, one baseball game, one hockey game simply because companies have exclusive rights to the NFL, MBL, and NHL and their respective entities.

I could care less about whether it's branded ESPN, but if EA signs a deal with the NFL and Madden's the only football game on the block I'm going to be pissed.

Re:I'm going to hate the day.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11432909)

I can't tell if you've read the article and are making a joke but if not, you should be pissed because EA already signed that deal with the NFL.

Re:I'm going to hate the day.... (2, Funny)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433071)

And I'm going to hate the day when there's only one major league in each sport, because the NFL, NHL, NBA, and major league baseball have exclusive deals with the TV networks. Oh wait.

Re:I'm going to hate the day.... (2, Funny)

Ubergrendle (531719) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433485)

Don't worry, there'll be NO major league for hockey soon.

\it was as if millions of Canadians' voices cried out in anguish, then was suddenly silenced....

Euro-style capitalism is the answer. (1)

delmoi (26744) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433670)

I'd much rather see a system similar to Europe's football leagues with their unfetter capitalistic approach. Rather then having X historic teams around forever, teams operate basically as businesses. They do all their own licensing, etc. and as teams get better they start playing better teams.

What's next in Madden 2kx ? (2, Interesting)

sonnyjz (463383) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432858)

John Madden, Al Michaels, and guess who... Chris Berman doing the halftime and postgame. That's what I believe they will try to sell out of the gates. I sure hope hope they work on gameplay and introducing new features as well in Madden. That was the beauty of having competition in the market, you could look at the competitor and think, "How do we top that?"

I sure hope we do not have stale games with roster updates and better graphics.

long contracts mean weak projections (4, Interesting)

Speare (84249) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432869)

The first thing that came to my mind when I heard it was that "long contracts mean weak projections." You have to have a lot of years to demand a lot of dollars. If ESPN's projections for growth in this arena were better, there'd be a lot more pressure for shorter contracts so they could return to the auction block sooner.

The score... (2, Insightful)

Lendrick (314723) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432870)

EA 1, Customers 0

Re:The score... (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433282)

And in the second quarter...

pirates 1, EA 1

Re:The score... (1)

Chiron Taltos (694030) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433473)

Actually, isn't it ...

EA 2, Customers 0

Afterall, they have this exclusive ESPN deal to go with their earlier exclusive NFL deal.

Re:The score... (1)

SansTinfoilHat (759207) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433515)

EA 1, Customers 0

When Sega scored the ESPN license, why wasn't it Sega 1, Customers 0?

Oh, right, we hate EA.

Re:The score... (1)

Lendrick (314723) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433894)

No, nothing like that. I just didn't have time to comment on the story. :)

Old Times (1, Insightful)

Apreche (239272) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432873)

EA prides itself on making games which are as true to the sport as possible. They get the actual teams, players, rules, graphics, etc. I remember back around the 16-bit times there were games that tried to be like that. Namely the early EA games and stuff like QB Club, etc. But these games didn't do as well as others.

By others I mean one of the top, if not the top, coin munchers of all time, NBA Jam. Look at games like Ice Hockey for the NES or Baseball Simulator 1000. Nobody cared that the teams were made up or didn't include real star players. In fact, some games including star players tended to really suck, see Gretzky Hockey for NES.

It's almost impossible to compete with EA in the arena of "real" sports games. If you want to have a chance you have to stop trying to emulate the major leagues and take the sport to a new creative level. Something like Baseball Simulator on modern hardware with 3d graphics and online play would be freakin' awesome! Or hell, Bases Loaded, perhaps the best baseball game ever made it had no real players or teams. Nintendo is slightly on the ball with its mario golf/tennis/kart/baseball series. But those games aren't in competition with EA.

I'm confident that a creative developer can take them on without any official-ness.

Re:Old Times (1)

empee (219598) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432966)

These proposed new games without official licenses might be 'better games', but they certainly have zero chance of (coming anywhere near) outselling EA's corresponding offering.

As much as you, I, the average slashdot reader, or an exceptionally sophisticated sports fan might appreciate the nuances of a game with better gameplay but no licenses, Joe XBox doesn't give a fuck.

He wants MVP Baseball 2006 from EA with Curt Schilling on the cover, wearing a Boston Red Sox hat.

He wants Madden NFL 2006 with Ben Roethlisberger sporting a Steelers logo.

He wants to be able to see every team, to see the real stadiums in the game, to hear John Madden and Al Michaels.

He wants to be able to play with his favorite team, the team he's watched for most of his life.

He doesn't want to play with some fake team that doesn't mean anything to him.

Re:Old Times (1)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433101)

He wants Madden NFL 2006 with Ben Roethlisberger sporting a Steelers logo.

Dear God,

Please do not let Madden curse my Steelers. Peyton Manning is already cursed, just put him on the cover.

Re:Old Times (1)

Nodar (821035) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432980)

We still have a sunday tradition of playing a few rounds of the original TecmoBowl on NES before the steelers take to the real field... Of course, that game has 'real' names, but, as far as I know, the "Ninjas" aren't a real team. Here's to game play and not team names!

Re:Old Times (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11433153)

Tecmo Bowl! I completely forgot that one, you rock!

Really stupid of me to forget, I just played it the other day. They should totally make Tecmo Bowl for the Nintendo DS with wireless play. You could even pick and design plays with the stylus. I think Madden is already for the DS, but it isn't all that.

Re:Old Times (2, Informative)

faust2097 (137829) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433486)

Midway is already working on a new Blitz title, and according to them they're happy to not have the NFL license because the league asked them to tone down the hard hitting and trash talk and now they have no such restrictions.

Re:Old Times (1)

JJahn (657100) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433571)

It's almost impossible to compete with EA in the arena of "real" sports games.

Right. Tell that to Sega who for the last several years has put out a great game (I'd say better than Madden this last year, and lots cheaper). The reason EA bought up the exclusive contract is because they were scared of the competition.

Re:Old Times (1)

Tenebrious1 (530949) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433582)

I remember back around the 16-bit times there were games that tried to be like that. Namely the early EA games and stuff like QB Club, etc. But these games didn't do as well as others.

If I remember correctly, the first big hit was EA's "One on One: Dr. J vs Larry Bird", the first game to model real athletes. And that was back in the good ol' 8-bit times. That was such a cool game, it all went downhill from there.

I don't see what the big deal about this deal is.. (1)

d_jedi (773213) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432932)

So EA can brand their games with ESPN. Woohoo. Big f***ing deal. I don't see how this is of any real importance (unless I'm missing something?)

The exclusive NFL deal was a lot worse for competition..

Re:I don't see what the big deal about this deal i (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11433217)

That's not the point at all.

Gamers are becoming increasingly worried that EA is going to completely dominate the gaming industry and churn out shit games one after another. Take one look at GameFAQs if you don't believe me. The messages boards went ape shit when this annoucement was made.

Unfortunately EA are now stronger than ever in the industry and now that they have Renderware they will find development of titles for Next Gen consoles that much easier. This will cut their development times and costs.

They can then also license this technology to other developers giving them even more income.

I expect EA will slowly swallow up smaller developers for IP rights (Burnout for example) as the years role on. TimeSplitters might be next, since they will be publishing this and, again, this is a popular multiplatform title. Recently Team 17 said they have only been able to produce Worms games because they can't afford to take a gamble on a new IP. Guess who has money to fund them...

Re:I don't see what the big deal about this deal i (1)

AttilaB (574159) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433315)

So EA can brand their games with ESPN. Woohoo. Big f***ing deal.

The big deal is that EA's biggest competitor in the sports arena is Sega, and Sega was using the ESPN brand for the names of their sports titles. For example Sega's football game is titled ESPN football.

The average consumer won't know that next year's Sega football is the same thing as this year's ESPN football. It will cause confusion among average consumers, which will hurt EA's biggest competitor.

Re:I don't see what the big deal about this deal i (2, Insightful)

rifftide (679288) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433521)

Lots of games are sold at Christmas time by people who aren't necessarily gamers. A brand name helps assure buyers - nobody ever got tossed out of Christmas dinner for buying ESPN.

Re:I don't see what the big deal about this deal i (2, Insightful)

Chiron Taltos (694030) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433573)

So EA can brand their games with ESPN. Woohoo. Big f***ing deal. I don't see how this is of any real importance (unless I'm missing something?
You are missing something, but that's because you aren't a fan of ESPN. There is a very real and devoted group out there who love ESPN. They love SportsCenter, their commercials ("This is SportsCenter"), and their personalities (Dan Patrick, Boomer, Dick Vitale, etc.). ESPN has garnered an MTV-like (and I mean 1980's MTV) aura and devotion to it.

Combined with the NFL exclusive deal, this is one hell of a shot across the bow of all of EA's competitors.

If EA wins, it may lose (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432945)

Let's assume that EA dominates the sports gaming market. The problem for that is that it could kill off that market in the process.

Imagine that if only one music group controlled a genre of music, e.g., if only the Rolling Stones played the blues (it's a joke damit!). Overtime fans of the blues would get bored of the same content being produced and would stop listening.

This could happen here too. Variety in gaming helps the entire gaming industry by keeping people excited and interested.

Re:If EA wins, it may lose (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11433536)

Um...It's already happened in the sports gaming industry. All of the games are basically the same. They differ on mechanics and lists of players, but they are just the same game. Why not go outside and play football for REAL. Isn't that a novel idea?

My biggest problem (4, Insightful)

hollismb (817357) | more than 9 years ago | (#11432982)

Isn't so much that they screwed Sega over, yet again, or that real NFL players won't be in any Sega football game, or that the teams won't be either. You could very easily create fake teams that looked like their real-life counterparts, and players that mimicked the real ones, then jsut give options to change the names on everything. The thing you can't get around, however, is that they can't use the real stadiums.

And, as far as I know, they don't have an exclusive license on college football. I think Sega should refocus their efforts on college football, and simply blow away the market while they still have a chance.

Re:My biggest problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11433106)

And, as far as I know, they don't have an exclusive license on college football. I think Sega should refocus their efforts on college football, and simply blow away the market while they still have a chance.

I think you have the right idea. College football generally has more fans and more ... fanatacism.

EA's College Football 200X series has seriously stagnated the last few years with few new developments, the same glitches, and no real new visuals. Sega used to be in the market, but was a distant #2. They could easily jump back in the game with their 2k engine and take over.

Plus in college sports they aren't the problems of using player names because you simply can't. And there's no chance that EA can con every Div I college and university to sign an exclusivity deal.

Open up the community aspect (1)

djinn87 (24245) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433000)

This is a great opportunity for Take Two (or frankly any game developer) to open up the community aspect of their games to open source development. Take your code, release it, and sponsor some development. Encourage moving the platform to a more P2P based, rather than centralized, service. Allow roster upgrades to come from the community instead of from the company. Let community members have full control over how they see leagues, reputations, and rank policy should work. Only good can come from it.

If the company isn't officially sponsoring the roster updates, it creates a legal shield. The community code and backend can't possibly be a moneymaker, as almost no one picks their sports games based on which online community features work best (the actual online connection is a different story). And imagine the goodwill generated by bringing a whole boatload of geeks (many of whom are gamers) onto your side. People already work terrible hours for unfair compensation just to be a part of gaming, why not pay them nothing, still reap the benefits, and screw EA out of the money they paid for official licensing?

Some portion of the gameplay would suffer as I imagine you couldn't have the play-by-play announcers saying guys names (though even that has possible solutions). The positives, as I see them, more than outweigh the negatives, however.

Re:Open up the community aspect (1)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433072)

That *may* work for the PC market (although I doubt it), but not in the console market. There are no open source PS2/XBox games. You'd need a modded box to use any that crop up, and no publisher is going to take steps to make mod chips more common place.

Re:Open up the community aspect (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433417)

And how would a game that people could download and compile and play make any money for the company producing it?

Re:Open up the community aspect (1)

silkySlim (565600) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433756)

Well... not everyone can (or wants to) download and compile code to play a sports game.

And perhaps there's enough mods and branches to the point where you may find value in a company packaging the code up into a tidy package. Or perhaps a real statistics database? (they aren't free) Not to mention there are some aspects of game development that don't lend themselves well to open source (ie: audio production for commentary).

I've been kicking the idea around for a few months now. :o)

Re:Open up the community aspect (1)

djinn87 (24245) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433892)

It's not the game, it's the community part. Have the online connection part connect right into community run sites, as opposed to the official "channels." Then let the community update the rosters, run the leagues, etc.

Admittedly, if the console is never plugged into the internet, this doesn't help anyone. But considering increasingly more of them are, and online play is increasingly more important, just let people update their rosters from non-official sites. Let the communities run with open protocols, if not open source.

What about XFL football? (2, Interesting)

weszz (710261) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433001)

I've heard some talk of a series that's kind of like the tv series Playmakers, also something about a All Pro game using maybe people from the Hall of Fame (they are not part of the NFL Players Association anymore)

but what about just going with the old XFL? there was some pretty cools tuff in there that could make a video game quite fun... and it's got to be pretty cheap, same idea and all behind it, but you can go nuts with the features since XFL probably would have liked them...

All you need is to remember "He Hate Me"

Re:What about XFL football? (1)

govtcheez (524087) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433055)

You never actually watched an XFL game, did you? Bad players, stupid rule changes, and the overall presentation was cheap. It failed on pretty much level.

real life != video games (1)

weszz (710261) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433164)

the bad players were because they had no time to practice, put it into the video games and MAKE the players better. that problem is solved.

the rule changes could add a fresh new thing to video game football, and the presentation could be anything it wants.

I agree that the XFL in real life did suck. there was no talent to speak of since it was all in the NFL instead.

But who cares about real talent in a football game? A game like this could bring in more money than the whole XFL did in it's less than one season...

I don't think.... (1)

evan_th (791330) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433300)

I don't think that any company out to make money wants anything to do with the XFL. That was a money-sucking venture from the get go and lost a LOT of people a LOT of money. Even the name XFL is now associated with flopping.

Re:What about XFL football? (1)

vcjim (602423) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433323)

Yes, Jessie Ventura could do commentary and you get extra points for dropping the ball and generally sucking!

Could backfire on EA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11433005)

Keep in mind these kinds of deals could backfire on EA. The brands they have locked in now for such long terms COULD be superseded by other brands in the future. Is it really that hard to believe that ESPN might decline and another channel might rise up and gain dominance in the next 15 years? Think BACK 15 years... alot changes.

Shades of Microsoft... (1, Redundant)

Londovir (705740) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433006)

What I thought most interesting in the article was the quote from the Morgan Securities analyst. He said, "There's nothing illegal or unethical about what EA is doing....Microsoft did the same kind of things to improve its position."

Isn't it funny how seemingly incompatible those two phrases are? Nearly everyone these days recognizes that Microsoft is a monopoly, including the government. How exactly does one think you get to be a monopoly? It's by doing the sort of things that EA is doing (in the beginning), which may very well be ethical and legal (but which leave a very bad taste in most consumers mouths anyway). You then end up wielding that newfound power in most unethical and illegal manners.

I just think it's quite enlightening to see a market analyst recognize the same initial markers in EA's behaviors. Sure, there's nothing illegal (but I'd argue unethical for awhile) in snagging so many exclusive licenses, but it remains to be seen what EA will do with their newfound implicit power. I somehow have a difficulty in believing that EA is going to "use its power for good, not evil". (I'm sure Digital Illusions, Ubisoft, and the hoards of EA employees would agree...)


Re:Shades of Microsoft... (1)

davew2040 (300953) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433931)

To most financial analysts, "unethical" is basically the same thing as "illegal". Legality implies a decent ethical foundation. If that weren't the case, then they probably wouldn't find themselves in that line of work.

You call that in depth? (2, Insightful)

gorbachev (512743) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433011)

A few out-of-context statements from a bunch of financial analysts is in depth analysis now?

Time to reinvent the wheel (2, Insightful)

revery (456516) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433017)

As always, when someone corners a market, this is the time for other companies to look at what makes sports games fun and come at this from a brand new angle. Sports games that abstract away some of the rules of the game to increase action or speed, new sports, new types of players (but more thought out than "what about Orcs with football helmets?" or "hey what if the players were robots?" type of ideas) though a Warcraft style sport game where teams can be made up of different races and players can mix and match to their hearts content would be interesting...

Anyway, whether these are stupid ideas or not, now is the time for game designers to innovate instead of whine about EA. If they get truly desperate, they can always go and find some Finnish computer science student who's been thinking about designing a game engine. I hear they have great ideas...

Re:Time to reinvent the wheel (2, Informative)

Marc_Hawke (130338) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433499)

Your wish is my command.

Chaos League []

Obligatory EA Employee Joke (1)

TooMuchEspressoGuy (763203) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433019)

Since EA might have a monopoly on sports games in their future, they really won't have to put out a quality product anymore.

I wonder if that means EA employees will only have to work 90-hour weeks...

Maybe its positive... (2, Insightful)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433044)

I look at it this, the glass is half-full, way. The ESPN license will change the EA football franchise away from Madden. Because, the way I see it, Madden is one of the weakest parts of that franchise. I like Al Michaeals on the play-by-play, but all the repetative MAdden-isms are awful.

I preferred the ESPN football the last few years. The gameplay was better in ESPN/Sega, but not so much so that one was much better than the other. But the voice over work was much less irritating and made for a better game experience.

The exclusivity for EA and the NFL is a serious problem and I think it will lower the innovation in the football genre and it concerns me greatly, but ESPN licensing, is not that big of a deal to me.

Brand Name != Sports (1)

rocjoe71 (545053) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433069)

A brand name and a sport are two separate things... Wake me up when they award copyrights on the rules to baseball, hockey and football.

Generic Sports != Sales (3, Insightful)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433099)

Wake me up when Mario Golf out sells Tiger Woods PGA Tour.

Re:Generic Sports != Sales (1)

Servo5678 (468237) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433416)

Wake me up when Mario Golf out sells Tiger Woods PGA Tour.

Wake me up when Tiger Woods PGA Tour is more fun than Mario Golf.

Don't call me Shirley. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11433074)


Re:Don't call me Shirley. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11433297)

Surely you can't be serious.

Perscrumption (2, Funny)

ObligatoryUserName (126027) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433086)

I posted this on a previous story, but now it's truly on-topic. I did a comic strip [] about this on Wednesday.

The thing that's galling about this is the amount of lip-service that EA has given in the past to supporting the video game ecosystem. They've maintained they don't want to be the only video game developer, they just want to be the best. However, as soon as they are faced with truly healthy competition, their response is to burn a lot of resources killing it off. EA was never in danger of losing the NFL license, and the ESPN brand carries less weight than the Madden brand in the football game market. They have mentioned some possible features with ESPN data-feeds, but to me this deal just feels like insult to injury.

NHL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11433110)

Are we ever going to see this brand of ice hockey again?

YES! (1)

Luke727 (547923) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433545)

In the upcoming NHL 2006 game, you will enjoy countless hours of pointless meetings between management and players. And you can play both sides! As a player, make a big stink about salary caps and offer to cut your wages instead! Or as an owner, insist on a salary cap and don't budge an inch! If it's on-rink action you're looking for you can play as the lowly janitor, sweeping the dead dreams of our youth off the floor. Only $49.99.

But seriously, the NHL will not be coming back without a salary cap. The NBA and NFL have salary caps and their leagues are very competitive, their players make a good amount of money, and all their teams are profitable. The MLB does not have a salary cap and the Yankees have gone deep in the playoffs the last decade, some players make ungodly amounts of money (mostly on the Yankees), and some teams don't do so well financially (i.e. Toronto -> D.C., Milwaukee).

when I was young... (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433221)

we played games with fake teams and players. Will kids not buy a good game with fake "almost real" names. The Cows with Mikail Syria or something like that.

Not the first time ESPN got licensed... (1)

MagikSlinger (259969) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433227)

I'm not at liberty to provide the details (because I worked for the game company), but ESPN once signed an "exclusive" deal with Radical Entertainment and that went... badly.

Just because EA is involved doesn't mean a) it will succede, and b) that ESPN won't cancel the deal if they're unhappy.

*sigh* Bad memories... *starts rocking back and forth sucking thumb*

Consumers rule the market, not contracts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11433425)

This is obviously not great news for Sega, but it doesn't ensure success for EA either. If EA gets lax and puts out crappy games since they don't have competition anymore, then it won't be long before people turn away from them, even if it means playing non-NFL football games. 'Cause after all, if the game is really good, people could care less what the names of the teams/players are. Game quality comes first. And those who insist on remaining loyal to the NFL brand would be suckers because they'd be missing out on the good stuff.

So this deal does in a way eliminate EA's competition, but you just can't discount the fact that consumer preferences are not constant, and that's what ultimately decides who succeeds in the market. If others like Sega can lure people with their good games, EA will be forced to work harder to remain competitive, regardless of any exclusive contracts.

So? (1)

DJbeta_masta (586040) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433434)

All this means is that sports games can only be branded "ESPN <leage> <sport>" by EA. That doesn't stop anyone else from making an NBA | NFL | videogame....right? ESPN is just a cable channel afterall.

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11433464)

Yeah but EA also recently got an exclusive contract with NFL, so only they can use NFL teams, players, etc.

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11433484)

That doesn't stop anyone else from making an NBA | NFL | videogame....right?

It does exactly that, and you need to also include the usage of real players is not allowed too.

Re:So? (1)

Chiron Taltos (694030) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433678)

right? ESPN is just a cable channel afterall.
I'd suggest the possibility exists that ESPN is "just a cable channel" in much the same way that Walt Disney World is "just an amusement park".

Re:So? (1)

cresquin (852066) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433744)

Interesting that you should use disneyworld as your example as to what a big deal ESPN is. I guess Disney is the owner of Big Things.

OT: I wonder if Disney's ownersip of ESPN was a reason for them to sell the Anaheim Angels a few years back? Conflict of interest maybe? More likely, they just wanted to milk all they could out of a team fresh off a world series win...

Re:So? (1)

Chiron Taltos (694030) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433849)

That occured to me right after posting ... "Hmm, Disney owns ESPN ... *shudder*".

Yeah, I'd agree with your assessment that Disney looked to take advantage of the world series win. Hey, it worked.

Also OT: Disney changed the name from California Angels to Anaheim Angels ... now the new owner wants to change it to the "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim". I'm sure the singing cowboy is turning in his grave.

Me so stupid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11433439)

"We think this deal further strengthens EA's competitive position in sports," Mike Wallace, an analyst with UBS Investment Research, said in a report released today.

Correct me if I wrong. Does not "competitive position" require presence of other competitors?

EA and pro sports: (1)

Trespass (225077) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433542)

Utterly debased and corrupt crime empires that deserve each other almost as much as their fans do.

What does this really mean? (1)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433613)

I don't really play sports games but I'm wondering what this really means for EA? Does this mean only they can put ESPN logos in their games? What benefit does that give the gamer? I don't really get it. This doesn't mean only they can use NFL player names and stats so why would someone really care?

Re:What does this really mean? (1)

12345Doug (706366) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433740)

This is just another marketing method to try to kill a pro-level type football game. Not being able to put NFL on your game hurts, but playing ESPN Football could have been seen as a valid alternative. With that out of the way you have one less well-known organization to peddle your game with. I guess you could always use Fox Sports Footbal Sunday or something similar but it doesn't hold the same aura as ESPN and NFL.

Anti-trust? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11433679)

Unfortunately it probably has no legal footing, but do any lawyer-like types think that this sort of deal-making (which effectively edges out any competition for a particular sport, e.g. football, in a video game) could allow for an anti-trust suit to be filed against EA and/or the NFL, and ESPN?


12345Doug (706366) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433683)

With the regards to the NFL EA aggreement, can another company make an agreement with the NFLPA to use the names of the players? They might not be able to use stadiums names/settings but if the NFLPA is a seperate entity could you make this agreement?

SEGA down but not out. (0, Redundant)

dancingmad (128588) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433711)

I'm not a huge fan of sports games but I know a lot of people that are. They are, mostly, casual gamers (the Halo and beer types). SEGA, EA, they don't care who they are, as long as they pay for the games, of course. Those folks won't be interested in generic football. Period.

SEGA has two options, really; either get into college ball. In the states a good college football based game would be a huge coup. The other option (which I think is less likely or workable) is to create a generic game (with a good engine) where players can completely customize the teams and allow users to exchange that customized data. Someone will make the real NFL and with a small shot in the arm style update they can unofficially play the NFL teams.

ESPN = NFL, MLB, NHL ??? (1)

Dave21212 (256924) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433727)

Okay, I'm not exactly an expert on how each sports league handles the contracts for their respective trademarks and exclusive use in video games, but I would be very surprised to learn that ESPN has a long term deal with each of them.

The article states that ESPN has only a 5-year deal with the NFL. What's to stop another network/entity from striking an exclusive deal after that contract terminates ? What if Murdock at Fox wants to become the next game mogule and uses his weight to get an exclusive Fox/NFL deal and pushes EA out (or Ted and TBS getting MLB) ? Would EA then be procluded from producing games that use NFL teams... with 10 years left on an essentially worthless deal ?

Doesn't this 15-year deal actually *weaken* EA's positition by making them more vunerable to market forces during the lifetime of the contract ?

Anyone here on /. a sports trademark lawyer ;)

Free of license has advantages.. (1)

vhold (175219) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433774)

My favorite sports games have all been relatively unlicensed ones, with the exception of NBA Street which is a very loose use of the license and even largely revolves around non-licensed players.

With the other sports companies now focusing on their games instead of being true to the real thing or adhering to the various license standards, maybe we'll see more old school action oriented style sports games.

Sports Metaphor?? (1)

jimmyCarter (56088) | more than 9 years ago | (#11433879)

From the article: "It's a slap. It's a slam dunk. Pick your sports metaphor. This makes it tougher for people already facing an uphill battle to compete."

A slap??! Oh, he was talking about Warren Moon..
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