Facebook Madden: No Longer the Gamechanger EA Expected It to Be

Last Updated Sep 1, 2010 7:32 PM EDT

Electronic Arts (EATS) launched its major franchise John Madden Football on Facebook, a move I praised when it was announced in February. However, much has changed in the past six months, and Facebook Madden probably won't be the gamechanger many critics, including myself, assumed it would be.

First, Facebook is still the casual gamer platform of choice, but the Apple (APPL) iPad and other mobile platforms are on the rise. Just within the last six months there's been the iPad, dozens of Google (GOOG) phones, HP/Palm's (HPQ) tablet news and other developments. Imagine if the Madden franchise had launched when EA's Playfish competitor Zynga just started the Mafia Wars/FarmVille phenomenon. Now launching on Facebook seems a little dated -- even for EA's prized franchise.

Second, the game itself is pretty slick compared to, say, FarmVille. Unfortunately, EA is either a) going after the traditional Madden audience, which will find the click-and-watch gameplay limited or b) going after the FarmVille audience, which, chances are, doesn't have much interest in football. The game's well-thought out menus and decent setup seem wasted on both groups.

Third, expectations for a Madden game are much higher. EA's flagship Facebook title, FIFA Superstars, is doing quite well, making EA Playfish the number two games company on Facebook with 54.9 million monthly active users compared to Zynga's 227 million. However, the Madden franchise has a much bigger reputation -- and a certain level of gameplay is expected. As Dean Takahashi of Venture Beat notes, "Do people really enjoy this kind of game?... If you think of this Madden as more like a card-based fantasy football league, that will set your expectations properly."

It's doubtful that the millions of Madden gamers, used to having control over all the little details in the popular console versions, will jump on the Facebook trading card simulator.

Photo courtesy of sweetthing10601 // CC 2.0
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