Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Madden Update: NFL knows of Madden PSP issues

I tried to return my 2nd copy of Madden 2006 for PSP last night, and I couldn't. I exchanged it for another copy, so I could start the clock running again on this defective copy. I should have returned this turkey when the guy who gave me the 2nd copy didn' strip the shrink wrap off, last night they did. I think the 2nd guy did this purposefully on reflection. The guy at the EB Games in Bridgewater, NJ basically told me to drive around to the other EB Games in the area to see if I could get anybody to give me my money back. I finally went through the work of trying the workaround posted by EA (delete all your franchise saves, then play your franchise schedule only through the Team Schedule option). On my PSP (firmware 2.01) this prevents the shutdowns so far, but I can no longer use the Assistant Coach feature to upgrade my players. This was one of the best features, because it added an RPG element to the game which is usually not included in a football game. I find that playing franchise without the assistant coach feature just isn't as enjoyable. I also turned off the Al Michael's commentary, which speeds load times. Not dramatically, its not 2x faster, but its a little better. I am so upset by this whole situation that I took to emailing the NFL. Someone on the EA boards found an email address for someone in the Communications and Public Affairs office, Jonathan Zimmer. I wrote the following email to him:
Mr. Zimmer, I have been informed that you are in charge of licensing for the NFL. I purchased the game Electronic Art's Madden 2006 for the Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) since it is the only football game officially licensed by the NFL. The game is disgraceful, riddled with bugs that either cause the game to turn off the PSP or prevent the player from using the features of the game. When the exclusive licensing deal between EA and the NFL was announced, I was fearful that the monopoly on NFL games would result in decreased quality. That is exactly what has happened. If Sega had been a licensee of the game, there is no way EA would have released a game like this. I have played a lot of console games across multiple platforms, this is the worst bug filled game I have ever played. The worst part of this whole experience is that I can't get my money back. When you buy games from most places, included EB Games where I bought my copy, once you open the game packaging, you can't return it. The only thing I can do is continue to exchange the game, and this is only by store policy for "defective" media. I am on my third copy of the game. I am far from the only person experiencing these problems. You can look at user reports on EA's Forums, mboards/forum.jspa?sls=2&forumID=44 EA has only posted a workaround to one of the PSP turn off issues, also called the shutdown bug. This exposes another bug in the game preventing the player from tuning your team as an assistant coach. They seem unlikely to issue a recall or replace the game with an updated copy that fixes these issues, or issue refunds for people that want them. I hope that with enough external pressure EA will make things right by their customers. The NFL has lost a customer in me for its games as long as they continue to license them only through EA. I know the money from EA for the exclusive license must have been good, but you have damaged the brand of the NFL. Regretfully, David Murdock
40 minutes later, I received this reply:
Dear Mr. Murdock: Thank you for your recent letter. We are now aware of the issue you referenced in your e-mail about Madden 2006 for the PlayStation Portable. We have been assured by EA that it is working to correct the problem. Thank you for your continued support in the NFL. Best, Jon Zimmer National Football League Communications & Public Affairs 280 Park Avenue New York, NY 10017
This was very gratfying to see the NFL actually caring about the issue. It is a form response apparently, as multiple people on the EA forums have have received the same reply But it seems EA is done with this issue. Nathan, the EA Rep posting in their forums, had this to say about the workaround to the shutdown problem:
> At least tell us if they are still working on the > problem or do they consider their "workaround" to be > a solution. > > Obviously the workaround does not work. The > lockups/shutdowns happen in gameplan as well as in > games. So the "workaround" doesn't even apply. > > You can at least tell us if they are still working on > the problem. > > And do they really think it is not a widespread > problem? Nobody has one that works. So not only is > it widespread, it has a 100% failure rate. Have you > communicated to them that it is indeed a widespread > problem? > > People want this game to work. That's why we are so > passionate about it. If we didn't care about the > game, we would just return it. I am being told that the work around is the solution to the shut down issue so assume that this is the final answer on this issue. We are still workingon the online slow down. The work around has been extensively tested on multiple systems and it prevents the shut down. Thanks, Nathan
At this point my only option at EB Games is to take the $30 trade-in credit, eBay the game, or keep it and hope that EA replaces the current UMD with a new one. I don't think I am being unreasonable when I expect to be able to use the features of the game without having to "give up" any so that the game doesn't shutdown the PSP. If this doesn't get fixed, I think I am done with the whole PSP. I really like the idea of portable gaming, but the execution till now has been abysmal. If the rumors of the iPod video are true and Apple gets the software and content right, I'll eBay the PSP and my current iPod to get the iPod video and perhaps a Nintendo DS. A co-worker has one and says it has been a lot of fun and with Advance Wars out for the DS and getting good reviews on Gamespot, it might be time to trade up. The PSP has been nothing but disappointment so far, I really don't need this level of grief or anxiety over something that is supposed to be enjoyable.