Raptr, the gaming social network counting more than a million users, examined their gamers' habits with Madden NFL 10 and found gameplay spikes sharply - beyond Christmas-sales levels - about a month before the newest version releases.
People played Madden NFL 10 the most at the game's launch, of course, and the figure oscillated through the 2009-2010 season (going up with the release of Madden Ultimate Team and the AFL presentation mode, both of which are free in Madden NFL 11). Interest slid through the playoffs, however, and bottomed out after the Super Bowl, as expected. Still, at E3 in June, EA Sports boss Peter Moore boasted to me that upwards of a million people were still going online to play Madden.
The pre-release surge is completely erased about a week before the new game's launch, but it's still interesting to observe.
Other fun facts churned up: In Madden NFL 11, average game session times are up 10 per cent, from 106 minutes to 118 minutes, 30 per cent of demo players bought the game, and playing the Pro Bowl in Franchise mode is the third rarest achievement collected so far. That's amazing, considering there's no real barrier to playing in it. You could even simulate all the way to that game in a throwaway franchise just to pick up the trophy. It just seems few people are bothering.