Electronic Arts, now officially the top publisher in the world, is celebrating another successful year of Madden. The video game giant has partnered with the NFL for the first time to bring Madden Bowl XXI to fans in Scottsdale and around the globe (through Twitch). Randy Chase, senior director of North American Marketing at EA Sports, talks about the new four-man Ultimate Team tournament that officially kicks off Super Bowl XLIX in this exclusive interview.
Randy Chase, Senior Director of North American Marketing at EA Sports
What’s new with Madden Bowl XXI?
The format will be different this year. We’re hosting a 4-player tournament featuring Colin Kaepernick, Patrick Peterson, Alfred Morris and defending champion, LeSean McCoy. Each player will be designing his own custom Madden Ultimate Team for the competition. It levels the playing field.
Why only four players this year?
Having to play online games takes a bit longer and it’s easier to do with less guys.
Where will the event be held?
We’re partnering with the NFL for the first time and the venue is in the Scottsdale entertainment district at Bottled Blonde & Livewire. It’s a block party, so there will also be a street component to the event. There will be three stages, including one in the street, a Pepsi Stage and one in Livewire.
Will fans be able to view the outside stage?
The entire party is invite only. The street will be closed off and once you’re in the party, the street serves as the party itself. We’re also doing the Gamer Bowl. Chevy and Xbox are bringing winners from an online Madden tournament that ran throughout the year. Twitch will be livestreaming that one-on-one match earlier on Thursday.
How do you pick the contestants?
We’re looking for guys who play the game a lot. We’ve had guys reach out to us who want to play in the tournament. If we were filling more slots, we wouldn’t have a problem broadening the tournament.
What has working with the NFL opened up compared to the past few years where Madden Bowl was part of the Bud Light Hotel?
Working with NFL is great because they do these types of things all the time. We can leverage their knowledge of doing events like this. We worked with them in the past on the Madden Pigskin Pro Am, so we know what they can do when they put on an event. We’re also going to livestream Madden Bowl because we want to bring something like this to the fans. We’re working with Twitch. The NFL will produce the stream, which will livestream on Xbox Live, EA’s Twitch channel and Android and iOS on the Twitch app. The NFL is going to produce the event on site and handle the livestream.
How is Pepsi being integrated into this event?
After the first round there will be a Pepsi Half-Time Show featuring singers Nico & Vinz.
What will the post-championship concert be?
Nelly and Florida Georgia Line are the musical performers, and there will be a DJing and a feature performance by Lil Jon. We leaned toward a variety of music with this year’s show. We put together something that pays tribute to EA’s mantra of putting gamers first. Our fans enjoy lots of different genres of music.
What does Ultimate Team open up for the competition this year?
We’re going to have some talent from different sports networks that will talk about how they put together their teams. In the past they just chose a team they liked to play with. Now these players have to bring a different level of strategy: what type of style of play do they run It brings new level of strategy and thinking to how they construct their team.They’ll give us their Ultimate Team in advance and then we’ll talk to them on site about their picks. The thought process going into it was that you can’t pick the hot team you play with online. You need to marry your stick skills with the ability to build a great team.
Why do you think Madden Ultimate Team is so popular with gamers?
It’s Fantasy Football in video game form because you need to put together the best team possible. There’s a lot of strategy in it on both offense and defense. It’s a lot different than opening up the box and playing with your team.
Who will the emcees be?
We’ll have Michelle Beadle from ESPN returning and Kevin Hart — who’s the face of Madden creative and a big fan of the brand and a great personality â€“ will be offering commentary during the tournament. We’ll also have some analyst type talent to work with during the tournament.
How long with the video game portion of the night last?
The livestream will be 60 to 90 minutes long. The Madden Bowl starts at 8:30pm MT and it’ll wrap around 10 or 10:30pm, depending on how long the games take.
How popular is the Madden Bowl for NFL players?
We always have a great number of players and we can’t get every single player in. We get a lot of interest from current players, as well as past players. It’s always been a hot ticket.
The Madden Super Bowl XLIX simulation has the Patriots beating the Seahawks 28-24. How accurate is this?
Lifetime the Madden engine is 8-3. The engine will take into consideration everything from the probabilities of onside kicks to situations like the fake field goal. The chances are slim in the game to pull these off, just like they are in the NFL. It’s all in the engine and all the plays are in the playbooks.