Insider Q&A: EA Sports’ Ryan Simmons

Image via EA Sports

Featured at this year’s upcoming Inside Mobile Apps conference (New York; December 3-4), EA Sports product manager Ryan Simmons will be taking the stage to talk about the challenges of bringing the cultural phenomenon that is Madden NFL to mobile.

Here’s a taste of what’s to come at the show …

[contextly_sidebar id=”a13704454dee41cb8d46dd2d64eca2da”]Inside Mobile Apps: How difficult has it been for EA Sports to translate a game like Madden for a mobile audience?

Ryan Simmons: It’s actually a really difficult transition because basically, you have a whole new input system with the touch controls. We’ve had a few different versions over the years, but if you play this year’s game, the new touch and swipe controls finally feel right. This is one of the most exciting developments because the game’s designers finally did the game justice in terms of creating true, authentic Madden gameplay with swipe controls. You tap to call hike, you tap your receivers, and it’s all done in a very intuitive way. The spin moves, the jukes … it’s all very interactive this year.

Looking forward on the mobile platform, you can look for us to continue to test new things. Is it ideal right now? I would say probably not, but expect us to show you new and different things moving forward because we’re trying to get the right fit where it’s really an experience that’s going to knock the socks off our customers.

IMA: How has the transition to free-to-play worked for Madden this year?

RS: Free-to-play is great for us because it allows us to reconnect with a lot of gamers who have played Madden throughout its 25 year history, but maybe no longer have a console or for whatever reason have disconnected from the Madden brand. Free-to-play really puts us in a good place and gives the people easy access to come back and reconnect with the franchise.

IMA: Have you seen the number of daily and monthly average users rise due to the free-to-play model?

RS: Absolutely. You see the whole industry moving toward the free-to-play route, and this allows us to essentially give people a free trial of your game, then if they like it, they stick with it, and if they don’t, they’ll move on to the next thing. We haven’t announced our numbers, but I’ll tell you that this is the best Madden to date that we’ve released and its been downloaded more than any previous Madden game for mobile.

Image via EA Sports

IMA: Madden 25 released an update last week. What were some of the changes that were made to the game in order to improve the experience?

RS: The new update, first and foremost, really improves the onboarding process so when people start the game, they really understand the different modes and the different ways you can build your team. It also opens up more than 200 new solo challenges. These challenges were linear before, but now, you can access a wider range of solo challenges all at once. We also added a highly requested feature where you can now trade in the players you’ve collected for extra rewards, allowing you to build your team faster than before.

IMA: Looking forward, how important is mobile to the EA Sports, and more specifically, the Madden business?

RS: It’s incredibly important. When you look at how many people you can reach through the mobile platform, there are just so many opportunities to reach millions and millions of not just gamers, but football fans, and with the new platforms and technology, we’re going to continue to look for new and innovative ways to deliver Madden to anyone who wants to play our game on the go.