5 Ways Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) Has Helped Me Cope as a Bills Fan

Being a Bills fan would be unbearable, if not for Electronic Arts Inc.'s Madden Mobile

Dec 24, 2014 at 12:34 PM
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As the NFL regular season winds down, I feel the need to make a confession: I now prefer football games (of the board and video variety) to actual football. I've played a lot of football games over the years, from the classic vibrating football board, to obscure card games. But here's my latest obsession -- Electronic Arts Inc.'s (NASDAQ:EA) Madden Mobile, which I play nearly every day on my Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad.

My wife can probably account for all the time I've wasted on this new obsession -- though, who is she to judge, sitting at Level 1,000,000,000 of King Digital Entertainment PLC's (NYSE:KING) "Candy Crush Saga"? But I'm simply here to tell you why I've had a change of heart on this all-important matter. After all, I gave up football video games in 2009 (and fantasy in 2007), without ever relinquishing my love for the sport itself.

In a nutshell, here are five reasons I prefer football video games to the actual thing:

  1. Cost: EA's Madden Mobile is free. Yes, some players spend real cash to upgrade their teams, but it's easy to play at no cost (time and self-esteem notwithstanding), and still field a respectable roster.

    By contrast, almost everything NFL-related costs money. Back in the days when I subscribed to DIRECTV's (NASDAQ:DTV) NFL Sunday Ticket, the package was $300 a year. Going to a sports bar week after week cost even more. Even my current solution for watching games a day after they're played -- NFL Game Rewind -- is $40 for the regular season, and another $20 for the playoffs.

  2. Free Agency Works: In Madden Mobile, there are no questions about player performance when it comes to the game's version of free agency. You may overspend slightly (in "Madden Cash") to get a player with an overall rating of 96, but he will perform like a 96.

    This is important to me, as a Buffalo Bills fan. In recent years, I've watched the Bills hand out $13.5 million to Chris Williams, $27.5 million to Mark Anderson, and $49 million to Derrick Dockery. Don't recognize any of those names? Consider yourself lucky.

  3. The Blame Game: If my team doesn't do well when I'm playing Madden Mobile, I only have myself to blame. Sure, sometimes I throw to the wrong receiver, but not as often as J.P. Losman Kelly Holcomb Trent Edwards Ryan Fitzpatrick E.J. Manuel Kyle Orton.

    By contrast, when the Bills don't do well -- which is more often than not, given their 15-year playoff drought -- I'm never sure exactly where to point the finger. I desperately want to point the finger, but I'm never sure whether the futility is a product of the players, the coaches, or the front office that selects the players and coaches.

  4. No Post-Game Press Conferences: Seriously, there are only so many ways to explain a loss. "They outplayed us." "We made mistakes." And, when teams win, the comments are pretty much the opposite. "We outplayed them." "We didn't make mistakes." Lather, rinse, repeat.

    This is never the case with video games. You play, you win/lose, you move on.

  5. The Bills Stand a Chance: I mentioned in passing that the Bills haven't made the playoffs in 15 years -- 15 years. No other team in the league can claim such a dubious distinction -- not the Browns, not the Bucs, not the Jags. It's the second-worst streak since the NFL merged with the AFL back in 1970.

    But in Madden Mobile, the Bills -- my Bills -- make the playoffs every year. In fact, they win the Super Bowl every year.

    So when the Bills laid an egg in Oakland last Sunday against a 2-14 team -- dashing the hopes of a re-energized fan base -- the disillusionment was more fleeting this year than in seasons past. Why? Because the Madden Mobile Bills remain in the playoff hunt.

However, I'm not the only one who's a fan of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA), as evidenced by the stock's charts. The equity has more than doubled in 2014, and on Monday tagged a six-year high of $48.35.

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