Earlier this week we got word that Denard Robinson will grace the cover of the 2014 edition of EA Sports’ NCAA Football franchise, and now we’re learning a little more about which areas developers sought to improve in this summer’s version of the game.
Per The Charleston Daily Mail, EA Sports invited WVU Director of Football Operations Alex Hammond and Coordinator of Recruiting Operations Ryan Dorchester to Orlando, Florida to help modernize the offseason recruiting element of popular game. One of the game’s producer spoke about what EA hoped to accomplish by consulting the Mountaineers:
“Everything we’ve done for the game previously was what made sense to us and what we felt was the right way to do recruiting with the limited abilities within the game to emulate recruiting and have it be fun,” said EA Sports producer Ben Haumiller (via The Daily Mail).
“Then it was, ‘OK, we’ve done that. It’s time to change the way recruiting works.’ It got a little stale, a little old, and we thought it was time to give it a new feel and a fresh look. We wanted to go out and take advantage of the opportunities we have. We have connections. We bring in coaches to talk Xs and Os and concepts and break down film all the time. We’d never extended to other aspects, particularly recruiting.”
EA Sports chose West Virginia in part because of their ability to attract recruits like Geno Smith from Florida.
To prepare for the meeting, Hammond and Dorchester reportedly spent a weekend playing NCAA 13′ while Hammond’s wife was out-of-town. Once they had done their research, they presented a Powerpoint presentation to EA producers and developers in Florida.
EA Sports will introduce some of the changes that Hammond and Dorchester proposed when the game is released in July. While they didn’t go into the details of their proposal, Hammond and Dorchester told the Daily Mail that gamers can expect recruiting to be much more realistic in the new game.
Specifically, they alluded to the possibility of recruits de-committing and/or changing their minds after coaching changes or based on how a team finishes the regular season.
“What’s exciting to me is that WVU and what we’re doing has a place on the national radar,” Hammond said. “There could have been plenty of colleges they wanted to talk to and they talked to us.”
As a fan of the franchise, I’m glad EA took some initiative and decided to improve the product. Many gamers have complained about the lack of improvement in Madden from year to year. Hopefully this is a sign that EA is listening.
Given the popularity of the game with high school kids, I’d definitely expect West Virginia to use the fact that they helped develop the game as part of their recruiting pitch moving forward.