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Microsoft, NFL Unveil Five-Year, $400M Deal; EA Sports Developing Xbox One Games
Published May 22, 2013
TECH SAVVY: NFL Media COO Brian Rolapp said, "When you think about the sidelines, what is most important for us is how you make the game of football better, make what the coaches and players do better, using technology but preserving the competition." He added, "You can start with how we communicate with each other. ... We'll look at how do you do the still photos better, get more into real time? Is there a more efficient way to give replay officials a way of doing reviews better through technology?" The AP's Barry Wilner noted such technology is "expected to keep fans not one step but several strides ahead of what's being presented live on TV now." Microsoft branding "on the hoods of the referee's on-field instant replay station and other sideline areas will begin this season." Rolapp: "Anything we do will go through the proper approval processes. Whatever we do, it's of paramount importance it enhances the competition. We have some gospel points we will not break." Wilner notes a five-year deal also "gives the league some flexibility as technological advances make even more improvements possible." SportsCorp President Marc Ganis said, "The tablets are a huge deal. For a league that prides itself about being at the forefront of technology, having Peyton Manning look at Polaroids isn't exactly cutting edge. Having him look at a tablet is" (AP, 5/21). ESPN.com's Mike Sando wrote the deal "looks like a game-changer on the field as well." Tablets "should allow teams to more reliably consider the percentages in light of team tendencies, opponent tendencies, historical precedent or whatever information a team could find valuable." This "should be especially true as younger coaches replace older ones" (ESPN.com, 5/21).
GAME TIME: EA Sports also participated in the Xbox One launch as part of a new strategic partnership between the publisher and Microsoft, and said it will develop upcoming versions of "FIFA," "Madden NFL," "NBA Live," and "UFC" for the Xbox One over the next year, including exclusive content in the Ultimate Team mode of "FIFA 14." To enable the titles on the new platform, EA Sports also announced a new gaming engine, EA Sports Ignite. EA Sports Exec VP Andrew Wilson said, "Ignite was designed specifically to blur the line between real and virtual. Sports are just as much about your head as they are about your feet or hands. We built new technology that allows players to make decisions with four times more calculations per second" (Fisher & Kaplan). USA TODAY's Mike Snider reports athletes will be "drawn in real time with 10 times as many animations, and four times the artificial intelligence." More "frequent, faster influx of sports data -- daily performance and injury updates -- will make athletes in the games more resemble their real-world models" (USA TODAY, 5/22).