PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Just days after its release, Electronic Arts has announced the recall of all EA SPORTS Madden NFL 07 videogame DVDs and cartridges for all platforms. The recall came after gamers grumbled that no matter what teams or players they put on the field, Al Michaels and John Madden would only talk about Terrell Owens. Further, gamers said, Owens appears in every sideline shot regardless of which teams are playing. Even after users deleted Owens from team rosters, the teams failed to perform as expected long afterwards.
These are not the first complaints about the Madden NFL game series, said EA SPORTS representative Cliff Hinzinger. Over the years gamers have reported intermittent problems, first with the 49ers, then the Eagles and now the Cowboys, saying that the consoles would not respond properly and often failed to work at all.
The gamers also noted that when they constructed any games or teams including Owens after a few plays the consoles tended to lock up and needed to be rebooted. This would happen over and over again, much to the annoyance of the generally patient gamers.
"What we have finally realized is that gamers want games, not reality. We had simply made Madden NFL 07 too realistic," said EA SPORTS designer Robb Gurlick. Deleting T.O. required a recall, programmers said, because the "81 module" is not merely one among many players but an integral part of the game's basic operating system.
"As designed, without T.O., Madden NFL 07, just like the National Football League, would barely function. Without T.O. all it is, is a football game," said EA SPORTS promotional representative Gracie Ormond. "Who would want to watch or play that? Guess we'll find out."
EA SPORTS says it hopes to make up for the inconvenience of the recall to users by providing not just a programming patch but an upfitted Madden NFL 07 game. Using technology developed first by CBS News promotional department, the replacement Madden NFL 07 will be upgraded to include a leaner, meaner digitally reduced Madden. Also, all the NFL teams will include "chippier, chirppier, perkier cheerleading squads" -- all modeled after incoming CBS news anchor Katie Couric.
One software patch, which should make the game more user friendly, fixes the slow reboot when switching between venues, a feature that users saw as a bug that was related to an overly authentic John Madden bus component. Two other welcomed fixes are taking the smirk off of the face of Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden, and making the spittle coming from Pittsburgh Steelers' coach Bill Cowher's mouth less realistic.
Coming into its 17th year and with more than 51 million copies sold, Madden NFL Football continues to stand out as the most popular sports videogame franchise of all time with a combination of inventive new features and the most authentic football game play. EA SPORTS hopes, with patient understanding of its loyal consumers, it will continue to do so.
Copyright 2006, Douglas Salguod