Maxim: How Are Madden NFL 09’s Ratings Decided?

Madden 09

As video game proprietors make Madden NFL 09 available to all avid gamers, you have to ask where these ratings are rooted from. Jonathan Crankshaw points all fingers to him! has dissected where these numbers derive from and has put together a one-on-one interview with the mastermind behind it all. Enjoy!

Assistant designer Jonathan Crankshaw lets you in on all the searing Excel spreadsheet action.

Let’s get right down to it—who puts the Madden ratings together?
It’s me, I have the final say. Before a game comes out, I assemble a group of media experts, around 10 people or so, and a bunch of college athletes, and I show them where I think I’m going as far as ratings go.

How do you make the numerical transition from how athletes perform on the field to how they perform in the game?
I look at a couple of things. First is public perception—everyone knows a certain player can do one thing, so he has to be rated as such. Second is what he did last year and what I think he can do this year. We now do roster updates every two to three weeks, so at home I have several TVs along with my laptop documenting everything players do. Some guys are in better situations for stats than others, so you have to watch that. For example, the Patriots’ Laurence Maroney got very few rushing attempts last year because Tom Brady passed all the time. But when Maroney did get attempts, he ran real hard. Same thing with a guy like Steve Smith compared to Terrell Owens. T.O. was in a prolific offense that put up 35 points a game while Smith’s team was juggling quarterbacks all season, so it was hard for him to get going. You have to read between the lines sometimes.

Do you need any kind of special college degree to crunch all of those numbers?
No, it’s pretty simple stuff. It’s just a spreadsheet, so you don’t need a degree in calculus or anything like that.

Sounds like a long spreadsheet—do you individually rate everyone, or do you give your best position player a 99 rating and work down from there?
I go through all the guys in each category. At the end, I sort the rosters by highest rating just to see that everything fits. A lot of people are like, “How could you miss this?” But it’s one stat buried within 20 from one player out of 1,700.

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