It was front page news when, in mid-March, the NFL adopted new rules to ensure player safety. The crown-of-helmet rule passed almost unanimously, despite the fact that many players were upset by it. (Study: Football hits cause brain changes, even without concussions.) But the push to promote player health will not just impact players on the field; according to Game Informer, developers of the Madden series, the rules changes will be incorporated in the next installment of the popular franchise as well.
Will this controversial rule come up at all in video games? A spokesperson for EA said they will implement all the new rules, including the crown rule. Although contact violations are rare in Madden games, this will make the game more realistic, forcing gamers to execute a more accurate strategy. Pass interference rarely comes up, because of the way the game is configured, so it stands to reason that the crown-of-helmet rule might not make much difference. Furthermore, many of the game's settings are on a slider, meaning gamers can turn them on or off.
Another NFL rule change got rid of the Tom Brady tuck rule, and this has the potential to significantly change gameplay experience. Madden is going to have to tweak how fumbles, rather than incomplete passes, are registered. With the controls of a video game, it'll be a lot more difficult to tell if a player was trying to opt out of throwing or just lost control of the ball. Hopefully the rule's implementation won't change gameplay too much.
The final NFL rule details how coaches' challenges work. Video review is now allowed when a coach issues a challenge. While this will certainly change the timing and consequences of challenges on the field, the idea that video review could be part of Madden seems counterintuitive.
Despite EA's dedication to keeping the game accurate, it seems like the biggest change will be during challenges. This will relieve players who were frustrated by earlier versions, when they could challenge only when prompted. Of course, since it's a video game, all challenges are predetermined; so sometimes it will be best not to take the risk.
It's great to see that EA is keeping current with the evolution of the game and making it as realistic as possible. But gamers understand that although the game is a fun and exciting learning tool, there's no way it can ever perfectly portray the true experience. Some rules just don't apply as well to Madden as they do on the field. It will require as yet undreamed of technological advances before they will.
Madden 25 will hit shelves August 27 for both Xbox 360 and PS3. Don't forget to vote for your favorite cover!
Photo: Game Informer
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