Maddenpalooza comes up rosesShawn Drotar

Posted on August 13th, 2008 in Gaming, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, News, Opinion, Wii, PSP by Shawn Drotar

Subtlety isn’t EA Sports’ style, so when they launch their most important title of the year, they make sure it gets noticed. Taking over the site of five Super Bowls, two Olympics and a World Cup ought to do it…

Monday, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, Electronic Arts (with an assist from some other corporate sponsors) took over the historic 92,542-seat venue, complete with a painted logo at the 50-yard line, carnival-styled football tosses, a mini-Wal-Mart for game sales, a main stage for musical performers and a grand tent filled with over 300 large high-definition televisions, all inviting attendees to come out play EA’s latest football opus.

EA Sports President Peter Moore (pictured at right, with author at left) beamed after entering the redressed Rose Bowl, grinning at the 400,000-square foot (and 100 percent recyclable) tarp that encircled the historic stadium and covered nearly every seat in the house. In scope, the event was startlingly impressive, but due to the (relatively) low number of attendees, “Maddenpalooza” felt uncrowded, subdued and surprisingly intimate despite the grandiose setting.

Over 6,000 tickets were distributed for the event, and football fans and gamers seemed to be matched in proportion by the media attendees from the NFL Network, ESPN, Spike TV and many others. Many of the NFL’s greats appeared at the events as well and mingled with the gathered crowd, including luminaries such as Ronnie Lott, Eric Dickerson, Rod Woodson and so many others, including 49ers great Roger Craig, one of the most personable athletes I’ve ever met. While a few of the footballers didn’t seem terribly excited to be there, the four I’ve mentioned were affable and went out of their way to meet and greet smiling fans.

Of course, the Madden development team was in full force, and many of the game’s designers seemed at ease after watching fans sprint across the Rose Bowl’s field to the gaming tent and listening to the hooting and hollering that came out of it.

Within the gaming tent, the diverse array of people was impressive. From young children to adults, from the good sports to the chest-thumping loons, men and women, boys and girls alike seemed to have a grand time taking a sneak peek at this year’s Madden, and many left the gaming tent and strode across the field to the Wal-Mart tent to pick up their own copies before departing.

Sure, the TV cameras loved to focus on the loudest and most boorish among the crowd; the types that seem to think that they somehow made a game-saving tackle instead of what they actually did - pushed a button - and insist on barking in others’ faces about it, but it was refreshing to hear so many gamers laughing and having fun with friends and even strangers instead of acting like their faux-jock fantasies had somehow come to life. There was a real heart to “Maddenpalooza”, a spirit of fun and camaraderie that permeated the event, as refreshingly sweet as the frozen Slurpees that flowed from the 7-Eleven tent on the scorching day.

A wide array of live bands played on the main stage during the event; a blend of rock, punk, hip-hop and rap that provided a thumping soundtrack during the event. As the sun went down, Busta Rhymes and Good Charlotte took to the stage to finish off the evening before sending tired-but-excited fans home into the pleasant, breezy California evening.

Of course, most of those fans were likely headed home to plant themselves on the couch for another game of Madden - or three - and on this night, EA wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

***

UPDATE (8/14/08):  Microsoft’s Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb has uploaded a Flickr gallery of photos from the “Maddenpalooza” event. He was able to go places that most were not, and as a result, he has some great pictures that better convey the impressive scope of the event. Check them out here.

***

Some of the above photos were taken by and courtesy of Rod Lane of NJMaddenBallers.com.

6 Responses to 'Maddenpalooza comes up roses'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Maddenpalooza comes up roses'.

  1. warnerwlf98 said,

    on August 13th, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    “Of course, most of those fans were likely headed home to plant themselves on the COACH for another game of Madden.”

    Is that a Freudian slip for Head Coach 09? I couldn’t resist.

  2. Shawn Drotar said,

    on August 13th, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Ha! Good catch.

  3. Fsquid said,

    on August 14th, 2008 at 7:52 am

    Home or a World Cup Final and you call yourself a journalist. Did you get to play the Wii version?

  4. Shawn Drotar said,

    on August 14th, 2008 at 8:53 am

    “Home or a World Cup Final and you call yourself a journalist. Did you get to play the Wii version?”

    ***

    I don’t get it - the Rose Bowl hosted the 1994 World Cup men’s final (and the ‘99 women’s) and I mentioned that in the second sentence. ;)

    I didn’t get a chance to play the Wii version because there weren’t very many Wiis there, actually. The setup included 95% Xbox 360’s, it seemed - no surprise, since Microsoft was the primary sponsor of the event.

    I’ll be honest, though - what I saw on the Wii wouldn’t have pulled me away from the 360 version anyway…

  5. Erick said,

    on August 14th, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Sounds like fun, Shawn. You need to get in the sun more though, Peter makes you look so pale.

    I’m really enjoying Madden so far, for the first time in a while I think it may be my football game of choice (usually it’s been NCAA).

  6. Shawn Drotar said,

    on August 14th, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    “Sounds like fun, Shawn. You need to get in the sun more though, Peter makes you look so pale.”

    There’s no “look so pale” about it. Irish and Czech descent means that I’m either white as a sheet or red as a lobster. Ain’t no in between, unfortunately.

    Feel free to use the picture to scare the kids at Halloween if you’d like. ;)

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.