Gamers Irate Over NFL Madden 2008 Glitches

Bugs make nation's most popular video game "unplayable," fans complain

NFL Madden 2008, the nation's most popular video game, has so many glitches that consumers are saying the Electronic Arts game is unplayable.

After purchasing a video game produced by EA Sports titled Madden NFL 2008, and playing the game, I came across many problems in the programming which resulted in the inability to continue gameplay, wrote Paul of Wildomar, Calif.

The game, which is available for almost every game console, freezes, miscalculates statistics and suffers enormous amounts of lag during online play, consumers say. For the Nintendo Wii version of the game, consumers on EA's forums page have listed over 50 glitches.

Although every system including Sony's PSP and PlayStation 2, Microsoft's Xbox, PC and Nintendo's DS appear to have glitches, it is the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 ports of the game that have engendered the most angst.

The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, which cost $60, were created by the same studio, said EA spokesman Tyrone Miller. So many of the problems with those versions, are found in both systems.

The major complaint from Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consumers is that in Franchise mode, when a team drops a player for whatever reason, he does not reenter the game through free agency, but rather, disappears. Over the period of two or three seasons, which amounts to playing about 40 games, the player pool becomes so slim that the mode can no longer continue.

In an e-mail yesterday afternoon, Miller wrote that EA was aware of the problem and that a patch would be available for the PlayStation 3 this morning to fix it. On EA's forums, consumers said that their systems did download the new patch, which in turn, completely froze their consoles.

By 1:20 p.m. all the complaints on EA's forum in regard to the patch's error, were removed.

EA has issued a release warning consumers not to go online with the game and to delete the patch if it has already been downloaded.

Miller said it is OK to get back online now, but that there will be no fixed patch available until maybe another week.

Xbox 360 consumers can expect a patch later today, he said.

On the Wii, consumers say that in SuperStar mode, kickers only make about a third of their kicks, including extra points, while the computer they play against makes nearly all of them, like in real life. Because of this glitch, consumers say it is almost impossible to win a game.

Wii consumers also say the system frequently freezes and that the game often confuses the system's unique motion controls.

Chris Faylor, a reporter for, an online gaming publication, said he's not surprised the game has so many errors.

Word of glitches and problems in the game does not surprise me at all, as its development is constrained by the yearly release schedule and will be pushed out the door when that time comes, regardless of its state, Faylor said.

He said that while later prints of the game can be fixed, many consumers who own the game now may be stuck with a broken product.

It's not that uncommon for games to be fixed in later pressings and shipments after their initial release, Faylor said. Most companies do this silently -- a minor bug is discovered and resolved before the next batch of manufacturing.

Sending out downloadable patches is the easiest way for EA to fix the game, but that may not fix everything and will probably only work for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 users, Faylor said.

The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 have hard drives that can load some of the data and initiate a patch. But because most of the data is still loaded directly from a DVD, it's difficult to patch everything, Faylor said. For the other systems, which do not have hard drives, it is nearly impossible to offer patches. Miller said it's impossible to patch the Wii version.

The other problem is that in order to fix the game through a patch, a user's console must have a broadband Internet connection. Miller said about 80 percent of Xbox 360 owners have a broadband connection.

The only option for consumers, whose systems cannot be patched and for those without broadband Internet, would be if EA would offer consumers an exchange for a later, fixed print of the game's DVD.

A disc exchange is definitely possible, Faylor said. It's been done before, but it's costly and time-consuming.

Electronic Arts offered a disc exchange last year for its NCAA Football game for the PSP and for the 2006 version of Madden, again on the PSP. Miller said the game would spot the ball at wrong points on the field.

That made the game unplayable, Miller said.

What it comes down to, as always, is the relationship between how much of this will actually affect their sales and reputation, Faylor said.

While consumers have filed complaints with and on message boards, the Better Business Bureau in California's Bay Area, where EA is headquartered, has received 443 complaints in the last 36 months regarding EA, and the company has an unsatisfactory rating.

Here's a list of a few of the problems consumers say they've encountered on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 ports:

• Players disappearing from free agent pool in franchise mode
• Connection problems during online play
• Substantial lag during online play
• System freezes
• Changing a player's uniform number changes his age
• Yearly player statistics are greatly inflated, sometimes giving a quarterback 50 or more touchdowns in a year

For the Wii:

• Kickers missing many of their field goal attempts in SuperStar mode
• Regular system freezes
• Connection problems during online play
• Substantial lag during online play
• Offensive players, including quarterbacks, being placed on special teams plays
• Quarterbacks often don't hand off the ball as they are supposed to during running plays
• 'No huddles' occur at random
• No huddles' result in offsides penalties
• Quarterbacks automatically throwing the ball as soon as it is hiked

Many disgruntled consumers have posted videos of the above glitches, and others, on YouTube. One video shows the ball soaring through the air and then making a 90 degree turn, midair, into the stands.

Miller said consumers should expect some glitches.

The nature of games is there are always bugs, he said. We try to minimize them and make sure they don't interfere with gameplay.

For those consumers who cannot receive patches, their only defense is to complain, Faylor said.

Make a big fuss about it, Faylor advised. Complain on their forums. E-mail them. Call their customer service department. Companies, especially those as big as EA, have people reading forums and e-mails all over the internet. They are definitely aware of the issue.

Many consumers say they wish EA would have shipped a working game, even at the expense of extending the deadline.

I am positive that EA is aware of the issues with their products, Jonathon of Independence, Mo. wrote to But a combination of greed, laziness, and poor product testing results in continually releasing sub-par and beta-like games

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