A discussion on the state of annually release sports games

EA Sports Dev here. Our NDA is very strict, so what I can say is quite limited. Feel free to ask, but if you get even close to material I can't talk about (I love my job) I will give you a canned response. These are not the opinions of EA, nor do I represent them in ANY manner. This is just general commentary on the yearly development cycle.

As much as the vocal few claim to want "new" and "fresh" features, the vast majority prefer the same (slightly updated) gameplay with fresh teams and graphical content. Look through the history of Madden and FIFA releases and take note that the ones that tried something significantly different in their core gameplay.

We have 1 year to make a new game. This is so little time for a 2-3 platform AAA title. We get merely months to prototype and build new features (While still trying to patch last years game), and then it's straight to bug fixing, polish and patches (which also only have months each). Everyone thinks we have a good starting place because of the old title, but the real truth is that new technology typically makes our old stuff unusable.

Another thing to note: Features sell games. No one is going to buy Madden n+1 if we say "It's Madden n! But bug free!". So our emphasis on polish and bug-fixing is minimal in general areas, and more prominent toward the new features. (Not always true, but I think this is accurate for all games, not just sports)

You want a way to submit bugs to us so we can fix them? All those bugs are irrelevant for the next year's release anyways (or they'll rear up in different ways).

And now the big question: What can you do? You can blame the devs like myself, sure. But I get told what to work on and that is decided on what is going to make the most money. I won't claim to know what influences individuals to purchase our games (and if I did, I couldn't say). But the development cycle of all industry games is controlled by sales.

/r/Games Thread