Does EA Sports have a lockout backup plan?
Companies have tried and failed to replace the NFL for decades. I'm sure everyone remembers the XFL experiment. The current football season lockout has created the conditions for a league to replace the NFL and succeed. I believe fans of the sport should prepare for the MVFL.
Four things in life are constant: Death, taxes, change, and Madden by Electronic Arts (EA). EA has taken every effort to become the most realistic football simulation on the planet. Players are critiqued and rated on their speed, agility, awareness, strength, stamina and more for the sake of realism. I'm sure they'll wear pink accessories in October to celebrate breast cancer awareness month, too. The question EA wonders is: Will Madden 2012 be profitable if there's no regular NFL season?
If the NFL remains under lockout conditions, the answer will be to create a season. That season will be the MVFL—the Madden Virtual Football League. Laugh if you wish, but NFL preview shows already use Madden to simulate real games and suggest a winner. Smart companies will take this opportunity to expand on that concept.
Sony, still feeling negative effects from the hacking of the Playstation Network, will unite with EA and provide a secure vault filled with 32 networked Sony Playstation 3 consoles loaded with Madden 2012. The NFL season will be simulated in real time with games played under proper weather conditions — snow in Pittsburgh, PA, check! Rain in Jacksonville, FL, check!
Each simulated game will be broadcast live over the internet, as well as a television network that doesn't currently have any affiliation with the NFL. It will seem like a big joke during preseason, but with no real football on the horizon, it will attract some eyeballs. Primarily from the die-hard gamers that want a sneak peek at the new Madden 2012 features. Players will also watch to see how they are represented in the game.This game has a huge audience. Madden 11 reportedly sold more than 5.5 million copies.
It will be a matter of time before the oddsmakers in Vegas will place odds on the MVFL simulated games. Oddsmakers will hate missing the action from real NFL games and will accept the MVFL results based on realistic injuries, gameplay and final scores.
With Vegas in on the action, companies like ESPN, CBS and Yahoo will also use the stats from the MVFL to update their fantasy football leagues and pick'em games. Fantasy football generates revenue for these companies and everything revolves around the bottom line.
NFL players will move to the broadcast booth and comment on their virtual player performances with the use of a webcam as the games are played. They will have to call EA offices to complain if they don't get the ball enough. Players will use social networking tools like twitter to brag about what their virtual player will accomplish over the weekend.
By week three, millions will be viewing the MVFL online and companies will begin buying adspace on the MVFL website. The first to join the party will be GoDaddy, followed closely by Doritos, Under Armour and Gatorade. Logos from other corporate brands will appear in the game as well and add to the realism. ESPN will be forced to present highlights from the simulated games as the NFL lockout continues.
As the MVFL begins the playoffs, the owners and players union will agree to a deal, but nobody will notice or care. The Madden Virtual Football League will have everything the fans love about the game — especially big hits, deep passes and long runs. In the end, fans of losing teams will argue that the games were fixed and fans of the Superbowl champions will contest that the system was flawless.
Either way, the debate will keep us fired up until the MVFL draft and the release of Electronic Arts' Madden 13.