Kotaku ran an interesting feature over the weekend about one of the more unassuming pieces of the Madden 13 experience: Its ability to replicate an expensive, high-gloss national broadcast. (More specifically, the new theme music's effect on it.) It made me think of what separates a competent viewing experience in real sports from a distracting one—and as distracting as, say, FOX's dancing robot is, what bothers me most in a pro sports viewing experience is when it looks somehow undercooked.
This is less frequent in the NFL, where seemingly every game is at risk of getting the full dancing-robot treatment on a given week; I found it most often back in my NBA-watching days, where it seems like the regional sports networks just aren't quite as slick with their coverage as they are with the baseball games they run 81 times a year. That seems to be the feeling the Madden developers are trying to combat here—the feeling that you're watching something less than a Monday Night Football production, so that every inconsequential game with your roommates feels like an event.
Because presentation is just as important in Madden 13 as it is in actual televised sports; if the announcers repeat themselves too much, if the sprinting animation clips through the field on occasion, if the art direction of the menus and the interstitial graphics isn't as good as it is on ESPN, people are going to notice, and it's going to devalue the experience. A local sports network has budget constraints as an excuse for the occasional mishap; Electronic Arts, making its most anticipated game of the year, has no such fall-back.