It’s that time of year again. A new Madden is about to grace our consoles, and football is on the horizon. We’re now a few years into this hardware generation, so EA is blowing up the old and building the new. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms are out, NCAA play-by-play man Brandin Gaudin and FOX’s Charles Davis are in. And with them comes a brand-new commentary system for this year’s edition of the best-selling football game.
We spoke to the new announcers, as well as producer Christian McLeod, about the changes and what to expect from Madden NFL 17.
I believe the last time Madden made the change as far as commentary is concerned was after 2012 when you transitioned from Gus Johnson. What brought about the change for the announcers this time?
Christian McLeod (Producer): The first was that as we moved into this generation of consoles, we had brought the framework of our commentary along with us. So as you saw when the PS4 and the Xbox One came out, we had made significant jumps in gameplay, in graphics systems, in franchise mode systems, and really the commentary framework was a holdover from that previous generation. It was certainly limiting to us, it wasn’t allowing us to really dive into the inner workings of football the way we wanted to for current gen consoles that we have today. So we approached commentary for Madden 17 by blowing up (for lack of a better term) the commentary system that we had before and rebuilding from scratch. A brand new framework – we’re building a brand-new house. From there we were looking at the depth and the breadth of the system we had built, and we realized that we really needed to go after a commentary team that was going to provide us with wide availability. We were looking for a team that was going to give us the availability and also the chemistry to really pay off the new commentary logic that we were going to put in the game. It got us Brandon and Charles, and I think that was really the key driving factor there, a new commentary framework with the right voices for our new commentary framework.
The previous generation lasted for 10 years, and there were changes but not huge leaps in the commentary system. Was there still legacy PS2 tech even last year that you’re ditching now?
McLeod: So the system that we had was set up for, there were pieces of it that came from the PS2 days, a little and a lot from the 360 days, but there had been set ups in evolution every single year and we never really had that huge, big push to take advantage of just how amazing today’s consoles are compared to the previous generation.