Tuesday, September 26, 2006

On the Madden Curse

I just responded to an email from blog reader Scott C. and I thought it might be worth posting to everyone. Scott's email was confirming how crazy the Madden Curse is. (He also points out that there might be an "ESPN Mobile" curse. How is Reggie Bush's draft strategy working out?)

I was thinking about why (or how) the Madden Curse exists and what it means. It might have something to do with this:

EA tends to pick players coming off career years -- applying the ol' "regression to the mean" theory, the cover players have nowhere to go but down, including freak injuries (or other injuries that aren't so "freak").

So it stands to reason that if EA took players on the rise (rather than at the top of their game), yes, they would increase the variance their cover guy might have an off-year -- but also perhaps mitigate the chance they suffer the curse.

(And what's the risk of an "off-year" by a rising player as compared to a season-killing year by the league's biggest star nicked by the Curse?)

Anyway, I have to believe EA doesn't think the Curse is a bad thing. In fact, I strongly believe they think it's incredibly awesome. It gives them a ton more mileage out of the brand -- and keeps people talking about the game long after the game is released and does the bulk of its sales.

(For example, they get a bump when the cover athlete is named AND they get a bump when the cover athlete is inevitably hurt. This bookends the actual "Maddenoliday" release day, which is an event in and of itself.)

I think I wrote about this in the Quickie a few years ago, but it's so obvious now:

The Madden Curse has replaced the SI Jinx as the "cool" cultural milestone for the inevitability of spectacular future failure.

-- Dan

12 comments:

Matt Berg said...

So true. Let's imagine, for a moment, that EA put the other logical choice from last season on the cover: Larry Johnson. Then, the curse would be as follows: all-world left tackle Willie Roaf retires, quarterback Trent Green knocked out with severe concussion, offense falters and Larry's record-breaking season evaporates as defenses begin to stack the box with eight or nine men.

Todd Ching said...

As I posted earlier, let's not dismiss the loss of the DQ/MQ on ESPN.com either... after several years, it met its demise only after EA included a question about it in NCAA '07.

-Todd (Boston)

GaryDaGator said...

The Madden Curse is BS.

Ray Lewis broke it but they said he didn't because he didn't play in the pro bowl which is optional.

Chris Maher said...

I would think the logical choice this year and last would have been LT. Had they done that...

The only curse at EA is that they continue to rest on their laurels (what the hell is a laurel?) after the early successes of Madden and NCAA, and now publish more crap games than quality ones.

They don't put out a baseball title anymore, the NBA titles always stink. Madden is more show than go, and this year's NCAA was the first one I regretted buying.

rafael said...

Try the soccer games, they are pretty good.

Laurels are leaves from a laurel tree...used to make the wreaths that Olympic athletes (and the ancieng gods) had on their heads. (Also, Roman emperors if you think about it). Anyway, resting on your laurels is like that..resting on your past accomplishments.

Chris Maher said...

so I'm supposed to sit on an Italian guy's face?

anonymous said...

would u like a moustache ride?

H said...

chris, the reason EA didn't put out a baseball title this year is because another company, I believe take two or sega, bought exclusive third party rights to the MLB license. Unlike EA who bought exclusive rights to the NFL's license (making them the ONLY company allowed to use real players), the baseball license means that Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo can develop baseball games for there own consoles (hence first party), but only take two/sega can produce a title that goes across all platforms (tird party). So EA's only choices were to produce a baseball game with no license - and therefore no real teams, players, or stadiums,- or just not produce a game at all.

I do agree though that the last two maddens have been a bit of a disappointment. I like the blocking controls in this years game when you play against a human opponent, but that's about it.

H said...

P.S. if there is an ESPN mobile curse, then Shaun Alexander is double cursed, as he did the commercial where he had the freak accident involving a lemon wedge and a weiner dog...so maybe it is actually ESPN mobile's fault and not madden. lol

Troy (Gainesville, FL) said...

EA must be really bummed they didn't pick Roethlisberger. Imagine how much ink that one would have generated...

Maher said...

Didn't know the bit about licensing. Saw EA put out a College Baseball game and was underimpressed by it.

thx for the info h.

i played the demo on madden, didn't leave me yearning to drop $60 on it. A friend of mine dropped his copy off at my place a week after he bought it and is in no rush to get it back he told me.

sad when people would rather play FFL than madden...

Tony said...

Isn't another plausible explanation for "The Curse" that NFL players are so competitive that they push themselves just that little bit further when playing against the Madden Cover Boy? Defenses, especially linebackers and safeties, key on the cover boy, pursue him with more urgency, hit him with that extra pop, etc., increasing the chances of injury. You hear all the time in the news how players are offended about their ratings, being on the cover would just increase this animosity. Ray Lewis may have been able to avoid "The Curse" because, being a defensive player, he was usually doing the hitting, and when he was hit, it was usually by one man trying to simply move him away from a running lane, not stop all motion.