Over the last year or so, we’ve seen many mainstream game developers begin experimenting with social gaming. The most recent of these was a Facebook app for Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft, but while it made use of the social graph, and by extension, the networks 400 million users, it was only a small sliver of the gargantuan MMO — mostly a way to post about your activities on the main WoW site. That move looks like it will soon be followed by Electronic Arts’ #1 console game, Madden NFL.
For those returning to Earth, Madden NFL is a long-running game, licensed by the NFL and developed by EA Tiburon in Orlando, Florida. Each year, the game is improved with a new rendition and, according to statistics reported by NPD Group Inc., has sold 63 million copies total in the United States alone. In an interview with Bloomberg Television on Friday, EA Sports President, Peter Moore said that “we have to make ‘Madden’ more accessible. You’ll see us on Facebook going forward.”
Considering the acquisition of social developer Playfish for up to $400 million last year, this is likely to be the EA brand Playfish President and General Manager Kristian Segerstrale talked about recently with the Wall Street Journal (and what company executives have been hinting publicly for months prior). He said that the social gaming space ought to mature in the next 12 to 24 months, making established brands a more important way to get users attention.
As for a Facebook rendition of Madden NFL itself, no official announcement has been made, but according to Moore, the adaptation will be a “simpler experience.”
This is not EA’s first dance with Facebook versions of its console titles. Already the console developer has released social versions of other titles, including Need for Speed Nitro, and new console game Dante’s Inferno — not to mention the apps built by Pogo, the company’s casual gaming group. Madden looks to be the biggest social effort yet, and we will be sure to let you know more when we do.