Box Score: E3 2012: Sports powerhouses strut their stuff

Box Score is a weekly column that offers a look at sports games and the athletic side of the industry from the perspective of veteran reviewer and sports fan Richard Grisham.

The cacophony emanating from any E3 can make it tough to pin down a global “feel” for the event, and this year’s version was perhaps the most difficult in memory to gauge. On one hand, most attendees were disappointed (at best) with the Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo press events. On the other, plenty of new and/or interesting stuff showed up and wowed fans and press alike. Along the way, the discussion concerning the ever-shifting industry landscape and lack of concrete information about next-gen hardware left many observers feeling confused about where we’re heading.

Except in one area.

The bulk of this year’s crop of sports games at E3 satisfied fans more than any other. Performances from Madden, NHL, NBA 2K13, and FIFA in particular impressed scores of people on the show floor and behind closed doors – no small feat considering the age of the brands and the expertise of the typical sports gamer. It’s one thing to provide ‘back of the box’ marketing bullet points, another thing to prove it to a hard-grading community. While I’d seen several builds of select games before the show and was suitably impressed, I wasn’t sure if the community at large would feel the same way.

Turns out that I wasn’t in the minority.

“The reception of NHL 13 at E3 definitely exceeded my expectations,” said Sean Ramjagsingh, a Producer on NHL 13 after returning home from the event. “As a development team, you always have confidence that your feature set on paper will be well received once it comes together, but you never really know what the reaction is going to be until you see the game in people’s hands.”
NHL 13 in fact made a decision to have a build available at E3 for the first time in awhile. That turned out to be even more beneficial than the team hoped.

“Being on the floor this year for the first time in many years allowed us to see many fans of the game and sport get hands on with NHL 13,” Sean continued. “People loved what we have done with True Performance Skating and the Explosiveness, Top End Speed, Momentum and Creativity it brings to the players on the ice. I can’t tell you how many people said throughout the event that they didn’t know how we could make the game better, but everything we’ve added completely changes the experience in a more authentic way.”

The day before the Madden NFL 13 team opened up their E3 build for the world to see, they revealed two significant updates to the franchise – a brand new physics engine as well as an entirely new way for players to experience single- and multi-player modes. As you can tell from our E3 Reveal preview (opens in new tab) as well as series of podcasts with the development team (opens in new tab), I’m genuinely excited about the new direction of the game. Turns out that the majority of the community was too once they got their hands on it.

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