'Madden NFL 11' features shorter, simpler play

EA Sports' marketing to emphasize time-saving theme

Making a pass at an audience that's too busy to play games, EA Sports will structure this year's Madden NFL blitz around a new product attribute: brevity.

An old Madden game could take more than an hour, presenting a major barrier to play, but games on "Madden NFL 11" can take less than a half-hour. A new feature called GameFlow also reduces the potential number of plays from 350 to one, which is automatically selected.

The shorter, simpler play is just one option, but since EA Sports sees time and complexity as an issue for some fans, those attributes will be underscored in one phase of a campaign for the title. The campaign, via Heat, will hit around the game's Aug. 10 release date. TV ads will show a father and son telling mom they're taking the dog for a walk and then putting the dog on a treadmill while they play Madden NFL.

Message: The game only takes about the same time it does to walk the dog. Other ads also will center on the time-saving theme, presented in the phrase "Plan accordingly."

Anthony Stevenson, senior product manager at EA Sports, said the game, now in its 22nd year as a franchise, has accumulated a diverse fan base ranging from die-hards to casual gamers who may have played the game years ago but now are fathers with responsibilities. But Stevenson said this isn't a case of dumbing down the game.

"People mistake simpler for dumbing down," he said, citing the success of Nintendo's Wii and Zynga's FarmVille as influences. Stevenson added that sales for the previous Madden title were down slightly in 2009 over 2008, but the product's sales ebb and flow in different years.

The other phase of the campaign -- aimed at passionate users -- already hit and featured such stars as the New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees. In the game, Brees takes on average people, and at one point, plays on the JumboTron in New York's Times Square.

Todd Wasserman is editor-in-chief of .
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