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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Madden Friendly Wagers (9.12.12)

It's been about two weeks since Madden NFL 13 hit store shelves, and by now, if you are a regular Madden gamer, I'm sure you have a copy.

In fact, Madden NFL 13 set all sorts of records for HD consoles as it sold 1.65 million units within its first week, and 900,000 copies on the first day of its release.

Madden has had such an impact fiscally, that the stock for EA jumped up 3.6%. Even further, some analysts expect EA's Microsoft console revenue to increase by 9% compared to last year, a figure that may be modest considering Madden's huge opening numbers.

With sales going through the roof, online play has also increased significantly. EA has reported a 31% increase in the number of online games played in the first week of the release date when compared to last year — over 24 million online contests.

With online play booming, Madden offers gamers all over the world a chance to face off against each other in a battle of football simulation glory.

One such battle caught my attention, and it was so entertaining, I figured I'd post about it.

Mike Lockyer, a host for the YouTube channel "NOC'd UP" faced off against T.J. Ward, the starting strong safety for the Cleveland Browns. Each had an advanced copy of Madden. With the use of Skype, they were able to battle online while also engaging in some friendly banter.

The two made some friendly wagers for specific situations, and these wagers added a humorous realm to the world of Madden. The ability to see each other's reactions was classic, and I think this may be the future of online gaming. Imagine playing a friendly game with a buddy of yours and having some great side bets, like first guy to throw a pick or fumble the ball has to shotgun a beer — the way I've been spanking some of my buddies, I'd have them hammered by halftime.

If you've ever played Madden online with a headset, you know how awesome it is when you make a huge play and your opponent lets out a huge groan of frustration. Imagine being able to see the pain in your opponent's face as you pick six him — it has to be awesome.

Anyways, let me rundown some of the highlights of the match between Lockyer and Ward.

To start the match, Lockyer brimmed with confidence. In his promo for the matchup he stated, "You see, I like to see the face of my opponent as I rain touchdowns on them." Right off the bat, I knew Lockyer was going to get smashed.

After discussing some of the improvements of the game, and stating that he had engaged in some matches with Joe Haden and Phil Taylor (members of the Browns), Ward scored early in the game with a 60-yard rushing touchdown by Trent Richardson. In a single back, two wideout, two tight end set, Ward hit a hole on the right and took it the distance without being touched. Lockyer immediately stated, "Oh that's so horrible," as he put two hands on his head in obvious frustration, leading Ward to let out a hearty laugh. For giving up the first touchdown, Lockyer had to do 25 pushups — he knocked them out like a champ.

On the ensuing kickoff, Lockyer asked Ward to give his best impression of the "It's in the game!" guy — Ward gave a decent impression, but Lockyer nailed it spot on, so much so that I think the "EA Sports, it's in the game!" guy may have to worry about his job.

On Lockyer's first play from scrimmage, he let out a telling tale about his Madden capabilities by stating, "Oh your defense is moving, I'm so terrified, I don't even want to hike the ball." Well, as it turns out, Lockyer did hike the ball, and Matt Forte fumbled it on a run up the right side of the line. Since he fumbled, Lockyer then had to give himself a wet willy — somewhere Delonte West is smiling. Ward capitalized on the turnover by converting a one yard touchdown rush with Richardson.

On the ensuing possession, Ward revealed an interesting insight, stating, "Hey, I think they got some of our real defenses on here." After a 10-yard run by Forte up the left side, Lockyer let out a classic Madden celebration, stating, "Uhh! Forte's a beast!" along with a fist pump for good measure. Ward calmly let Lockyer gloat, and two plays later he picked him off. In a true Madden moment of agony, Lockyer actually knew that his decision to force the ball over the middle was a horrible idea, and he let out a "Oh God, bad idea" as Cutler was winding up to throw the ball.

Since he threw an interception, Lockyer had to sing "Call Me Maybe." Lockyer seemed to know the words, and he even unleashed a little dance to go with it, causing Ward to laugh but then state, "Alright, alright, that's enough."

A few plays later, Lockyer got to gloat as he picked off a Weeden throw over the middle. Lockyer told Ward, "You better look up the lyrics to 'Call Me Maybe,'" and Ward noticeably pulled out his iPhone and gave his rendition — hilarious.

Then Lockyer capitalized on a "Why I hate Madden" moment (strong language warning). As a defensive lineman chased Cutler, Lockyer rolled out left, faced his own end zone, performed a 180 spin, threw off his back foot across his body, and hit Brandon Marshall on a post pattern for a touchdown on the right side of the field in double coverage to make the score 14-7 — Ward was upset to say the least.

On the following possession, Lockyer experienced the pain that every Madden gamer has experienced at least once — a defensive back dropped a sure pick six in the flats. Filled with excitement as the ball traveled in the air, Lockyer soon experienced agony as he stated, "That would have been it! Oh that could have tied it!" Ward capitalized on the dropped pick in true Madden fashion by unleashing a bomb to Josh Cribbs in the final 35 seconds of the half for a 60-yard gain that setup a Greg Little touchdown, making the score 21-7. In a sarcastic manner, Lockyer stated, "I'm actually letting you get ahead, cuz I like the uh, thrill of a comeback" — a line every Madden gamer has stated at least once.

Lockyer's frustration began to mount in the third quarter. Following two off target passes by Cutler, Lockyer let out, "Jay Cutler, you piece of s***" — I'm sure Bears' fans have repeated that line thousands of times (although Cutler looked pretty awesome in Week 1). Because he cursed, Lockyer had to keep a bar of soap in his mouth during the next play. With soap up in his grill, Lockyer converted a huge fourth down, much to his delight, and he released with a thunderous "Whooo!"

Later in the drive, Lockyer revealed a sentiment known by every Madden gamer, stating, "I don't know how quarterbacks do it man, I'm stressed out and I'm playing a video game." It's true, think about the stress a single game of Madden can cause. We all know that it's just a video game, yet sometimes it can really put a person on edge. I can attest to being in pretty crappy moods after suffering a heartbreaking defeat, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

After stalling on his drive at the 23-yard line, Lockyer decided to fake a field goal. Instead of hitting the open man that would have guaranteed a first down, Lockyer got greedy and threw the deep out route. His receiver caught the ball at the one, but he had one foot out of bounds on the sideline, making the pass an incomplete. Lockyer let out a hilarious diatribe, "Why is that always happening? Why is he not throwing the ball like a champion!" Lockyer, in his fury, didn't realize that Cutler wasn't actually the quarterback, instead the second string quarterback made the play since he was the holder on the field goal attempt.

In the fourth quarter, neither player scored, and Lockyer lamented in the final minute, "I'm very defeated, I feel very sad, [...] I'm gonna work on it though, your bye week comes, I want a rematch." With 37 seconds left, Lockyer tossed one last heave to the end zone. Ward picked it off, causing Lockyer to claim, "I got greedy, I got frustrated, I'm very angry." Lockyer then let out a huge grunt of frustration, much to the delight of Ward who busted up laughing.

Since he lost by two touchdowns, 21-7, Lockyer had to dance the "Macarena" with his shirt off. Lockyer hummed the melody and performed the dance as Ward laughed with amusement.

Overall, the match was quite entertaining. There were highs, there were lows, there was humor, there was dourness, there were big plays, small plays, frustrations and exclamations. In the end, Skype and Madden seem like a perfect fit. I think it's time for me to call up one of my buddies.

Furthermore, if you are ever getting beat down by NOfXonME on Xbox LIVE, it's me on the other end. Maybe we can engage in some friendly wagers.

Also, Lockyer, you need some practice my man, and Ward, what do I have to do to get a match with you online? Somebody make this happen, please. I would so be Paul Rudd esque; no way there would be Marshall Faulk on the other end talking smack.

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