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Community Discussion: Blog by Samit Sarkar | Sports games and exclusivity deals: a different takeDestructoid
Sports games and exclusivity deals: a different take - Destructoid

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As fellow c-blogger B-Radicate reported earlier, EA has extended their video game exclusivity agreement with the NFL by three years. It was originally slated to expire in 2009, but now, EA has locked up the license through 2012. Most people seem to think that this deal means that the apocalypse is imminent, but I donít necessarily agree. Read on, friends, read on...


No, this is not what Madden NFL 09 will look like

Iíve always been a fan of EA Sports titles over 2K Sports games ó I just like the way they ďfeelĒ and control. In general, however, I hate the idea of exclusivity; it stifles creativity and allows developers to rest on their laurels, year after year. (Aside: I was thinking of doing a ďGood Idea, Bad IdeaĒ on exclusivity agreements, but I realized that I couldnít find anything good to say about them.) 2K Sports owns the baseball license, and I really didnít like Major League Baseball 2K7 (in fact, Iím much more interested in Sonyís MLB 08: The Show this year). But I absolutely loved EAís last baseball game, MVP Baseball 2005 on the PS2, and itís a damn shame that they canít make them anymore.



Now, itís important to note something that Peter Moore mentioned in his interview with IGN: he said that it was the NFL who originally looked into having an exclusive deal with a publisher, and EA just turned out to be the highest bidder. Is that their fault? No. Thatís capitalism, and thereís nothing wrong with it. Much of the blame should be placed on the sports themselves ó that is, the NFL and the MLB ó for offering an exclusivity deal in the first place. But EAís not innocent, of course; what is wrong with EA is the Madden games that theyíve put out since the deal went into effect, which have all been largely lackluster titles compared to the pre-exclusivity games.

Of course, Iím at a special disadvantage as a PS3 owner; the 360 versions of Madden games have been serviceable, but the PS3 ports have been a different story altogether. The week before Madden NFL 08 came out on August 14, 2007, Best Buy was offering a deal: pre-order Madden, and get $10 off any other regularly-priced game. So I pre-ordered it and got Warhawk (which wasnít to be released for another two weeks) for $49.99. But I saw the error of my ways (or rather, EAís ways) after I had the game in my hands. IGN gave the 360 version an 8.7 in their review, but the PS3 version of the game was scored a full point lower, a 7.7 out of 10. I read through both reviews in their entirety, and the only difference between them was the mention of the graphical shortcomings of the PS3 version of the game. After playing the game myself a few times and being disgusted, I put it aside on my shelf, and in December, I got rid of it for a measly 650 Goozex points.

So what Iím essentially saying is this: I wouldnít fault EA and 2K Sports as much for their respective exclusivity deals if they just made good games. Is that so much to ask? And if you have to, use the PS3 as the lead platform for development (or at least start development on the PS3 version earlier). Thereís absolutely no excuse at this point for either of the versions to have any major graphical or gameplay inadequacies, and that was the case with both Madden NFL 08 and MLB 2K7. In any case, at least I have an alternative for baseball: 2K Sportsí exclusivity deal only covers third-party games, so SCEA is free to develop their own baseball video game. I eagerly anticipate MLB 08: The Show, and I definitely have some interest in Madden NFL 09, though after last yearís shenanigans, that interest is lukewarm. Make me believe again, EA...thatís all I want...



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