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EA Sports Co-Founder On The Key To Madden's Success: Getting Players To Play With Themselves

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Every morning, the fine folks at Sports Radio Interviews sift through the a.m. drive-time chatter to bring you the best interviews with coaches, players, and personalities across the sports landscape. Today: co-founder of EA Sports, Jack Hiestand.


Tomorrow is Madden Day, the unofficial national holiday where people stay up late to buy a copy of the Madden video game and call in sick to work for the rest of the football season. In honor of this occasion, EA Sports' Jack Hiestand stopped by KTAR in Phoenix with Gambo and Ash to talk a little about the history of John Madden Football and EA Sports.

When his first year was with EA Sports:
"In '92, I was in New York working for the Hearst family and EA recruited me and they just had gone public. They were profitable but the company hadn't really taken off, but we had maybe three or four sports games. Trip [Hawkins] loved baseball, that was one of his passions, and he loved Earl Weaver. So we had Earl Weaver's baseball game, Madden, Andretti Racing, and I think we had a hockey game."

Whether people will wait in line for the release of Madden 2011:
"Oh, gosh yeah, I mean it is a cultural phenomenon. One of the keys to the game becoming so huge, was that back in the late '80s and early '90s, mainly kids played video games but we got the NFL players to start playing it, to the point that they would stop John when he was doing a Monday Night Football game and complain to him about their player attribute ratings, because we rated every player on 12 different attributes. They guys would grab him and say, ‘My speed is better than an 8.1.'"

His thoughts on how much money John Madden has made EA Sports from the Madden games:
"John, without talking out of school, from the time he signed the contract up until now I would say that it is an 8-figure number and it starts with a ‘$5x,xxx,xxx.xx', north of that."

On EA Sports' involvement with Sega Genesis' Joe Montana Football and how it was vastly inferior to Madden:
"Well that is partially true. What we did is give them the engine of the game, which is the code, the underlying computer code that makes the game work, and then they had to come up with the artwork and the sophistication about how many plays they are going to put in and stuff. The engine enabled them to get the game out but they were the ones responsible from polishing it.''

How the NFL players feel about the Madden Curse and whether it has brought more attention to the game:
"Absolutely, any press is good press. It is like Chris ‘The Mad Dog' Russo being on the Letterman Show that helps their show in New York. Any press is good press and the players I still think they look at it as an honor. Years ago they had the SI cover jinx, but it is good press."

His thoughts on what the next step in the evolution of video games will be:
"Eventually it will be 3-D but increasingly all of the play is online. When games were created it was a conduit to socialize and video gaming in the '70s and '80s, that was the lone time playing games where you played by yourself. So now finally the technology is there to where you can compete to the point where you don't see kids outside playing as much because they are staying inside and playing on the video games, which I don't know how healthy that is all the time, but it is definitely going to be greater speed greater graphics, and greater competition."


This post, written by Tim Gunter, appears courtesy of Sports Radio Interviews. For the complete highlights of the interview, as well as audio, click here.

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