Friday, September 16, 2011

2011 EA Madden 12 Hall of Fame Edition

I have a bit of an odd relationship with Madden (the videogame; I don't know the man personally).  Much like the El Niño weather pattern, my playing time with a particular version of the game flows and ebbs every couple of years or so.  I last dabbled with Madden using the 08 Edition (Favre Cover) on the 360, and last played it with any real amount of time, using the 07 edition (Shaun Alexander cover) on the PS2.  I thought the 08 version was pretty weak, so it turned me off for a good long while.

So, upon hearing the news that Madden 12 (Kelly Peyton McGillis Hillis cover) has "a new collision system", I put on my special faith underwear and headed on over to GameStop, hoping that "new" equals "better". When I arrived at the store, I noticed that EA had released two versions for the PS3 and the Xbox 360--a standard edition, and a Extra Money from Your Wallet Hall of Fame Edition.

EA, in the past, have released a Special Edition (05 - Ray Lewis cover), a Limited Collector's Edition (08 - Dos Equis cover) and a previous Hall of Fame Edition (07 - John Madden cover).  However, there seemed to be an interesting difference with this most recent HOF version, other than the $30 price difference at retail.

Guaranteed to be included in the package is a autographed Panini football card of the HOF Edition's cover boy, Marshall Faulk.  I had never purchased a "premium" version of Madden before, so I figured, why not?  I'm interested to give this version of the game a try, and I get some extra DLC; plus I get to treat the game box like a guaranteed Faulk-jo auto hit card pack!

The back of the box goes on to describe that there are four different designs of cards that have been randomly inserted into Madden.

Much like a turducken.
Out of what would ostensibly be a four card set, there's a Panini art style white card that somewhat matches game box art, there's a photo card of Faulk while he was with the Colts, a photo card of when he was with the Rams, and what appears to be a sketch-type card variation of the Rams card.

Since scans of the cover don't look so hot, I thought it might be appropriate to show a photo of the game case / unintentional card pack:

Not too shabby.  It became time to crack this this case. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that not only is the game case wrapped in its usual plastic, but on either end of the slip cover, the game case is taped to the slip cover oh-so-subtly.  Observe:

Interesting that EA would want to prevent casual (or even concerted?) efforts to take off the slipcase.

So after removal of the first layer, we have a normal game box, but missing Ms. Hillis, and featuring Mr. Faulk:

It's actually nice to see that the insert on the back of the game case is different from the rear side of the slip case.  Apparently not everyone (EA) recycles an image from everything else they've done previously (Panini).

Upon opening the case, I finally discover my prize (besides a game disc, a DLC code sheet, and a legal disclaimer sheet); I received one of the "common" auto Marshall Faulk cards (#1 of 4).

It's also nice to see that the card is hard-signed.  I was impressed with that, actually. I started thinking about it: EA usually sells 2 million-ish copies of Madden annually. Even accounting for some smaller fraction of that to be the HOF Edition, that still had to be a serious boatload of cards.

So, I did some searching, and it appears that there are 125,000 or 150,000 of these HOF Editions of Madden.  However, there's no particular way of knowing if the split is 50/50 between PS3 and 360 versions of the edition.  Upon checking Marshall Faulk's Twitter feed, he made a couple of posts in late August that are pretty funny:

Wow.  Really, wow. Even in the deepest Days of Junk Wax, most of the biggest autograph quantities were on the order of 10,000; not at least 12 times that.

Now, taking a quick look around eBay, there are plenty of Box Art cards (like mine) and Rams photo cards available for sale.  Here and there, there are one or two Colts photo cards at any time.  It appears that there are rarer versions of the four cards in the set than others; especially since I haven't yet seen a listing for the sketch version of the Rams photo card at all.

All I can say is that if anyone pays over ten bucks for the box art or Rams photo cards on eBay, you are seriously overpaying for what is a fantastically overabundant autograph, overnight.

Here's the back of my auto card for the curious:

Incidentally, these cards are quite large. Their rough dimensions are 5½" by 7 11/16". It's almost sized like a postcard; it's not that much smaller than the game case.  Below is a photo of the two together for scale:

One thing that is disappointing is that the card just rattles around loose inside the package.  No pouch, no inner sarcophagus pack, no wrapper. Naturally, I wasn't particularly rough with my copy bringing it home, but that probably didn't matter.  My card got some minor dings on the corners.  I imagine that there could be a premium someday on gem mint copies of the card, given how many are going to get banged up before anybody even sees them.  Of course, that premium is predicated on enough people caring to move the market needle upward.

According to GameSpot, somewhere out there are two 18 karat "solid" gold versions of this card, autographed by Faulk.  Makes me wonder how well a Sharpie inscription holds up on a gold surface.  Of course, there's one each for Xbox 360 or for PS3.

I'm not going to show the game disc, the DLC code sheet (duh), or the legal sheet.  A notable missing item is the presence of any manual.  Aha! A closer look at the legal sheet offers this:

How nice.  EA is thanking their customers for not complaining about supporting their efforts to significantly reduce costs paper in their products.

Giant Creepy Madden Face Says: "You will buy special game of me, today!"

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