Preorders are down for EA Sports titles, the company said during its quarterly call to investors. CEO John Riccitiello and EA Sports honcho Peter Moore were discussing how they expected Electronic Arts' sports portfolio to perform in the year, and both seemed to say that prejudging a game's performance by the number of its preorders might be a relic of another time. "We're watching this closely," said Moore, "But in a world where we do a lot of street dating, consumers are feeling less pressed to actually place preorders." He said the company does fewer of the sort of promotions that actually drive preorder frenzy, and that titles with fewer preorders have still been meeting sales expectations. "NCAA has taught us... that preorders are not quite the key indicator that they might have been in the past." Moore also said that quality and innovation were more important than the number of preorders the company gets. Riccitiello also talked about some of the innovation we can expect from Madden 09:"Quality...that's up," Riccitiello said. "We expect this trend to continue as we launch the rest of our sports slate... Madden is looking particularly strong." He offered a special thanks to EA Tiburon for "stepping up innovation" on football titles in particular. "If you ever sit in a focus group," he told the audience of mostly investors, "you discover a core of consumers that absolutely love the product, but one of the big challenges is... you feel like you need a PhD in football-ology.It's a particularly demanding product both in skills and football knowledge... it feels a little bit standoffish to new consumers or to consumers that may have lapsed." "The team at Tiburon has built a game that adapts to you... meaning it plays you competitive no matter what your skillset is." He mentioned the "holographic interface" for training, and a rewind-replay feature. "A video game of this caliber teaches you how to play and teaches you to get better. i think its going to... be the kind of innovation that puts Madden back on top after a few years. Because it's sort of an open door, versus a velvet rope over the door, to get into the franchise."