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Should Madden Fans Be Worried About the Ex-Tiburon Gang’s Departure?

From Operation


“Nothing happens in a vacuum.”

Let’s recap the news of the past several days. First we learn that some members of EA’s Tiburon Studio are leaving. Then we find out that those members happen to be Ian Cummings and several other “big” names (yet to be confirmed) within the studio. Then we find out that Madden‘s release date will be pushed back for the first time ever to late August.

It’s hard to not see where the connections in all of these news stories comes from — it doesn’t take our boy Shawn Spencer down at Psych to put all of this together to see what’s going on.

Let’s dissect this backwards.

It’s apparent the Madden delay is because several senior members of the game’s development team tendered their resignations in the middle of its cycle — with a smaller bit that the NFL probably won’t be having a season so no pressure to get it out on time. That’s going to be awfully damaging to a lot of processes and plans for what is EA Sports’ North American flagship title. You don’t just have a shakeup like this and the effects not be felt — sure it’ll be downplayed, these things always are. But when companies do something they’ve never done before after a big chunk of their leadership on a product leaves — that’s not a sign things are kosher.

I don’t have many sources within Tiburon — and definitely none of them are part of the group leaving — but they would tend to back this up. It’s not a sign Madden is going to be terrible — but it is a sign that some ideas might have to be scaled back this year just to get the team back on a solid foundation.

Now onto the other issue, why does someone leave their job?

No one ever leaves a job they absolutely love for another job unless it’s for a huge raise. That’s possibly the reason why the ‘Ex-Tiburon Gang’ is leaving, and we can’t discount that.

What has many Madden fans worried is that the reason these guys are leaving is more along the lines of a creative vision dispute and general unhappiness with the work environment at Tiburon. This would tend to suggest a more sim product was pursued, which marketing types and suits didn’t like because it might not have as much mass appeal. I can’t say that’s for sure what we’ve got going on as well here either.

Most likely the Ex-Tiburon gang is leaving because of a combination of factors. Perhaps they were leaving for a little better money and benefits, perhaps they were somewhat unhappy, perhaps they weren’t allowed to creatively express themselves as much as they could and the promise is they can at a new place. All of these are valid reasons for jumping ship, so it’s definitely unfair to pin it on any one thing — there could be a number of factors for a number of different guys even.

So the million dollar question is does this affect Madden‘s development?

I’d say yes, but probably not in a completely immediate fashion this year. The delay is a big deal, and you might see a few ideas toned down — but the overall direction of the product will not be known until we see which guys step up and fill the void. If Madden suffers in quality, it will no doubt be linked back to the disarray the creative team was in during these weeks for better or worse.

For now we will have to watch and wait, but my gut tells me we’ll look back on this week as a watershed moment one way or the other.




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