Electronic Arts has found a creative way to make its latest incarnation of the Madden NFL series even more realistic: live weather updates.
Thanks to a hook-up with the Weather Channel, players who have their consoles connected to the internet will have the option to play under the conditions which are currently happening in the real world in the chosen stadium.
Perhaps more usefully, the game also draws on three years of meteorological data so that play during a season mode will better reflect the likelihood of particular conditions at a venue given the fictional point in the season. Visit Green Bay during the play-offs and you’ve got a fair chance of snow, while wind is more of a major factor at Soldier Field, to the detriment of field goal kickers.
Some of the effects are purely visual, with more mud on player uniforms when playing on grass in rain, and there are even psychological effects with snowy games given a blue tint to give the sense of coldness. But gameplay itself is also affected: tropical storms will make fumbles more likely as players slip, while extreme heat will see players tire more quickly.
EA has also included the Weather Channel hook-up in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2010. In that case it’s arguably more of a novelty feature as the game allows play during extreme wind and rain conditions during which play would not be possible in the real world. (No word yet on whether tour mode players can be hit by lightning and find their ‘season’ coming to an immediate end.)
It’ll be interesting to see if EA extends this technology to its other sports games. One obvious example would be its cricket series in which the temperature and rainfall have a major effect on the game, particularly for players deciding whether to bat or bowl first.
Of course, live weather updates aren’t new to the world of video games: Microsoft’s Flight Simulator series has had such an option since 2000.