Fans Will Help Rate the Madden RookiesS

EA Sports is putting nearly everything about Madden NFL 11 up for a vote. First came the cover athlete, then the game's demo matchup. Now the ratings for first-year players will be based on community feedback.

Peter Moore, the EA Sports boss, announced this on his official blog earlier today. Fans will have an advisory role - their word won't be final - but their opinions will still form a baseline when EA's ratings czars begin to tinker with player attributes once training camp begins.

How it will work, Moore said: On the day of the NFL Draft (it begins April 22), Donny Moore, the game's "ratings guru" will post what he believes should be the ratings for drafted rookies. Then fans can go to the Madden NFL official Web site and enter what they think each rookie's ratings should be. The average of the fan scores will then serve "as the player rating baseline for when training camp and pre-season begins," says Moore.

So, nothing commits EA Sports to a hard 87 Throwing Accuracy rating for Sam Bradford if enough Oklahoma alumni or St. Louis (or Washington) fans flood the voting and pump up their quarterback. That's the training camp baseline, and EA can bring that stat up or down to a more normal level between that time and the game's release.

But I'm not sure I like this. Certain attributes are just uncoachable - speed, throwing power and maybe, to a lesser degree, acceleration. Many of those can be backed up with objective data from the scouting combine. If enough people say CJ Spiller's a 99 in speed as a return man, is that where EA Sports will really start?

The inclusion of a subjective measure can work the other way. As we saw in comments on yesterday's post about Tim Tebow, plenty of people hate the former Florida quarterback. You can expect him to get rated 40 in everything by probably a majority of visitors. Is that really where they'll start?

This is similar to the reasons why I dislike putting All-Star rosters up to a vote of the fans. I think fans are even more uninformed, on the whole, about individual and team strengths than even the sports writers and poll voters. Sure, they have access to what Mel Kiper Jr. and other draft analysts have to say. But their opinions are definitely influenced by rivalries, thrills, grudges and other extraneous likes and dislikes. And that's fine, that's the definition of being a fan. I know I'm no legitimate appraiser of talent - in any sport. Most of my opinions are based on what other people say.

In the end, we're only talking about first-year players and only a few have any kind of game-breaking impact in the video game. It's also not clear how deep into the draft Moore will go in taking these kinds of suggestions. But it's a gimmicky ploy, and it opens this question: If it's easy to spot wild fan voting results, and we assume the EA Sports pros will discount them and adjust the measures, then what's the value of having the voting in the first place?

Connecting With Fans in New Ways
[Peter Moore's Blog]