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The biggest Madden 17 change is one you haven't heard about yet

The removal of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms from the Madden commentary booth is a bigger change than one might think.

Yes, football fans, it's the offseason. But it won't be for long! Only 2 months and we'll all be enjoying the latest installment of EA's long-running Madden series. And despite all the nay-sayers claiming that it's "just a roster update", there is one gigantic Madden 17 change that has flown under the radar up until now.

The change doesn't have anything to do with physics, gang tackling, changes in QB mechanics, or really, anything that directly affects the on-field action. But you'll notice as soon as you boot up the game that two familiar voices will be absent. And if you're anything like me, you'll be pretty damn happy about it.

Phil Simms and Jim Nantz provide commentary for live CBS football games, but have also provided in-game commentary for the Madden NFL series of games since Madden 13. If you don't really follow football, you may not be aware, but the Nantz/Simms commentary duo... well...

They're not all that popular.

Many fans, myself included, find their commentary lackluster, failing both to entertain and to educate. When they were announced as the featured commentary duo for Madden 13, there was some well-deserved backlash.

Well, @WildWop, I'm happy to announce that your nightmare is finally over.

Yes, sports fans, finally, thankfully, the long-maligned commentary duo of Phil Simms and Jim Nantz will be replaced by two new Madden 17 commentators: Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis. Though Gaudin and Davis may not have the credentials of the men they are replacing, EA has gone to great lengths to make sure their commentary is dynamic, fresh, and full of life.

Not only has the lifeless and vanilla Nantz/Simms commentary duo been ousted, but it appears as if commentary itself is a new focus for EA Sports. Gaudin and Davis will be in the booth weekly, recording new lines of commentary based on what happened in the previous week's real NFL games

This means that weekly changes to Madden 17 will not only include roster updates, but will also include additions and changes to the game's commentary, further immersing players in their sports fantasy.

And it's not like Gaudin and Davis lack experience either. Brandon Gaudin has years of football broadcasting experience under his belt at the college level, and Charles Davis himself, in addition to being an All-SEC defensive back in college, is a current football analyst for Fox Sports.

A commentary team just for Madden

"What really attracted us to Brandon [Gaudin] was... he just sounds like sports." Christian McLeod, Associate Producer

The addition of an all-new commentary team is a big change not just for Madden 17, but for the entire Madden series of games. EA Sports has always relied on established on-air talent to record commentary for the Madden series. This has, more often than not, resulted in lackluster and cookie-cutter commentary.

The fact that the team behind Madden is now choosing to foster their own on-air talent is a good sign (albeit a late one) that EA Sports recognizes that just because somebody can call a live NFL game doesn't mean that they'll be good voice talent for Madden.

Ideally, this commentary duo will stick around for future generations of the game, building camaraderie like any other broadcasting team while becoming more and more familiar with the specific needs of the video game format.

Is EA Sports Listening?

For fans both of Madden and of, you know, real football, Phil Simms and Jim Nantz are a divisive group. Many are fans of their commentary, but most are not, finding the two boring, uninformative, and generally sloppy with the way they call games.

Is it a stretch to say that the Madden 17 commentary change was a direct reaction to fan backlash? Probably. That said, the team behind Madden is a savvy one and it would be naive to think that the decision to create an in-house commentary duo was not based, at least in part, on the public perception of current on-air commentary teams.

This really does bode well for the future of Madden games, if EA is truly listening to their audience. It shows that they aren't assuming that all Madden fans are die-hard football fans, and that all die-hard football fans play Madden

At the end of the day, Madden will never be a perfect simulation, so at some level it's nonsensical for EA to stay beholden to things that actively hinder Madden's success. Ousting a terrible-but-well-known commentary duo in favor of some new blood is a great start.

So, in short, goodbye to Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. We'll reluctantly see you on CBS football broadcasts, but for now we can be free of you in the world of video games. You won't be missed. Well, at least, not by me or by this guy.

Good freaking riddance.

Published Jun. 30th 2016

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