Madden 11 Scouts Your Online Games — and Sells Others the ReportS

Madden NFL 11 will log every play you call online, building a book on your tendencies that will available, in-game, to any multiplayer opponent. While the reports can be earned or unlocked, they can also be bought for cash.

Correction: This version of the story corrects wording that implied coins were redeemed for scouting reports 1:1. They aren't, although EA hasn't specified the exchange rate. What you get with a full retail purchase is 50 reports, not coins.

EA Sports' Madden team revealed the new scouting reports feature today in an extensive discussion with ESPN's Jon Robinson. Tendencies like your opponent's run-to-pass playcalling ratio, the side of the field it's run to, the side of the field his defense targets, will be redeemable through a coin system - one coin per scouting report - and coins may be earned for free by playing online games - and completing them. Coins can also be purchased for cash (or Microsoft Points) for those short on funds but needing intel fast. Finally, every retail copy of Madden 11 comes with access to 50 free scouting reports.

Sounds like a lot, but there are 45 separate tendency reports you can get access to, although you can buy the entire batch for 25 coins pre-game. But yes, that means you have to pay to see the book on yourself - such as the fact you always go to a slot receiver over the middle on third-down (raises hand) and everyone knows it.

There was no mention of how many coins it would take to buy a single report, nor of how much reports would cost in real-world cash or Microsoft points.

Pros: This can really level the playing field for novices who only figure out midway through the second quarter their opponent's a slants-and-streaks guy, who's already leading by 17 at that point. It's useful information and if you know what to do with it, a legitimate value-add to multiplayer gaming that also adds a subtle dimension of realism to the game itself.

Cons: Hardcore ranked gamers are going to be buying these reports too, and exploiting them in every match, adding another dimension of difficulty to running with that crowd. It's a monetized commodity, sure, but EA Sports' Madden producer Donny Moore is correct that by making these freely unlockable it's not being done just as a cash-grab. I'm still not sure I like the idea of having to pay to see my own reports. As a gamer, that's information I give freely to this enterprise, where it has value to the developer and to the community. It would be courteous to allow players to see their own "book" for free, and would encourage them to play in smarter, more diversified ways.

Madden 11 Introduces Online Scouting [ESPN]