Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

The Best Part of "Madden 08"

As many of you know Electronic Arts' "Madden 08" came out last night. You can find the reviews everywhere else. But I'm here to review only one thing: The rings you can get in the game. They are unbelievable. These things are going to be the most surprising success of this franchise.

So here's how it works. With stats and good game play, you accumulate points. With more and more points, you get virtual rings that you can design. As you become a total "Madden" geek, you get to the third level, which allows you to take the ring you customize, use the code they give you and go onto Jostens' Web site to get a real life ring!

There are ring levels 4 and 5 and the higher you get, the more you can do with the ring. Prices start at $149 (for a non-precious ring) and go up depending on whether you want to get real diamonds or even a 10K ring.

Jostens was kind enough to send us samples of the rings and they are just so much more than we thought they would be. They look real and I'm betting that 0.2 percent of gamers who buy the game are going to get them.

That's actually a nice number: so let's say they sell eight million copies of "Madden 08." Let's assume that there's two players per game. So we have at least 16 million people playing "Madden." If my prediction holds true, they'll sell 32,000 rings. Getting real rewards for game play is the future.

The funny thing is that the people at Madden wouldn't tell us how many hours you need to play to get a real ring. All we know is that to get the first ring, you need to play for about 24 full hours. So I guess we'll have to wait. The first person who gets to level 3, please write in and tell us approximately how many hours it took.

I sat down with Dale Jackson, the executive producer of the game, to talk about the rings.

How did the ring idea come about?

Jackson: We thought, what better way to do it than the same way the NFL does it with the ring of a champion. How can you beat that for showing off your accomplishments?

Why do this?

Jackson: It's just a really tangible way to show that off. It's right there on your hand and everyone is going to see it and a ring has crossed so many sports. It's a symbol of someone who has won a championship or someone who plays at an elite level.

What's the end goal?

Jackson: What we're really trying to achieve with the rings in "Madden NFL 08" is to give the community a way that they'll show their achievements to each other and celebrate their achievements outside the game. So even when you're not around the game playing someone else, they can see your skill, they can see what you've been able to accomplish and really the success is going to be when community of hardcore fans and the people who have been playing Madden for years can get out there. Picture them walking into a "Madden" tournament or walking into their friend's house and have that ring and be able to show them immediately where they're at and kind of get that "Wow, you have the epic ring? That's amazing."

This is a great relationship with Jostens, which really has established itself as the name in the business. How much money are you guys hoping to make off this alliance?

Jackson: This isn't a huge money making thing for us. If the 100 top players get this ring, that's a big win for us because it means something at that point. But we don't really have a goal in mind as to have many we want to sell. We want it to be hugely popular you know with eight million people getting their epic rings, but in reality, we know it's going to be the guys that really care about celebrating their accomplishments -- the guys who are the hard core players --  that really want to go out and get these rings.

More Pics

Questions?  Comments?