How PS2-era Michael Vick had a big effect on Madden 17

There’s never been a greater Madden quarterback then Falcons-era Michael Vick – and nearly a decade after his prime, with Madden 17 imminent, dev EA Tiburon’s entire attributes model remains built around lessons garnered from how he was deployed in game. 

Each spring, a short time after the draft, a designated section of the team sits down to work out every player’s ratings for the coming season. But NFL lineman turned developer Clint Oldenburg reveals that in tandem with those stats tweaks, a number of the gameplay team test the provisional changes in game, to ensure nothing gets broken the way it did when people used to Vick-stick their way to glory.

“One thing we need to stay on top of every year is the ratings ranges, and make sure the game is responding to them the way it should,” says Oldenburg. “Michael Vick was the greatest quarterback in Madden history, because his speed rating as a QB was astronomical, and there was nothing you could do stop him. For a number of years before I got here, features were added to the game specifically to stop Vick. Now [to prevent one player being similarly overpowered] we try to keep ratings within a certain range. So if a QB comes out of the draft with a 99 speed rating, A, B and C is done in the game engine to make sure everything is balanced”.

Oldenburg doesn't work on the attributes team day-to-day, but is more than happy to draw upon his five years' real-life experience with sides such as New England, St Louis and Denver when asked.

“I’m available to anyone that wants the assistance, and I do it as much as I can,” he says. “In my first year, on Madden NFL 25, they let me re-rate all the offensive linemen in the game. It’s extremely difficult! Not as fun as I thought it would be”.

“Just last week our new ratings guy gave us [lists of] the top ten players at each position, and wanted feedback. I was looking over the centers – nobody looks at centers! Weston Richburg, the center for the New York Giants, every site I could find had him as the best center in the league last year – yet we had him eighth or ninth. I went and campaigned to give him an increase. He played great last year and yet nobody out there knows his name”.

You can read even more from my interviews with Oldenburg and current NFL players Jay Ajayi and Allen Hurns in this extended behind-the-scenes look at Madden 17 at EA Tiburon.

Madden 17 is released for PS4, PS3, Xbox One and Xbox 360 on 23 August.  

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Ben Wilson

I'm GamesRadar's sports editor, and obsessed with NFL, WWE, MLB, AEW, and occasionally things that don't have a three-letter acronym – such as Chvrches, Bill Bryson, and Streets Of Rage 4. (All the Streets Of Rage games, actually.) Even after three decades I still have a soft spot for Euro Boss on the Amstrad CPC 464+.