Cam Newton remembers standing in line at Madden’s midnight launch just to be among the first in the world to have the new game.
These days, Newton’s not only one of the most popular characters in virtual football, he plays a starring role in Madden’s new Gauntlet mode, providing the voiceovers/trash talk as gamers attempt to complete a series of challenges, like kicking a field goal through hurricane-force winds, in order to achieve the high score.
The quarterback is even taking part in Madden’s Ultimate Team tournament, collecting cards and battling fans in a session that is scheduled to stream this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on Twitch.
Extra Mustard caught up with Newton to get his thoughts on all things Madden 15, including his player ratings, his game setup at home and his special way of making defenders pay after an interception.
Extra Mustard: I hear you’re a big Madden gamer.
Cam Newton: I’m not, but my thumbs are. [Laughs]
EM: When did your Madden obsession first start?
CN: Being in the game now is a dream come true for a kid who actually used to stand out in line to get the midnight release. I was a kid who would do any little thing in order to get that extra dollar for my allowance in order to collect enough money to pay for that Madden game. And one of the things that keeps inspiring me is, I’m not where I want to be in the ratings. My competitive side comes out with this game, and I’m busting my tail so when the first update comes, I want my ratings up there to a point where I’m happy to play [as me in the game].
EM: What ratings are you mad about? Speed (86)? Awareness (78)?
CN: I don’t like anything about myself. I want to be a juggernaut. I want to be a 99. If I’m not a 99, I’m not happy. The competitive side of me will not allow for anything less than 99. I’m happy, I’m good in the game, and as a Madden connoisseur, it’s cool to see myself in there, I just need to get better.
EM: What’s the longest you’ve sat and played Madden in one sitting? Are you a binge player where you’ll sit and play for like six hours straight?
CN: Dude, I was in college, and this was something that got me through college. Just because we’re doing an interview, I’ll refrain from saying just how many wagers I’d put up just to have enough money to buy lunch or dinner for the night. Madden provided me so much excitement, it kept me out of so much trouble and was good bonding for my peers, teammates and family members. The thing I cherish a Madden game for is probably different than somebody else, but for all the Madden I’ve played throughout the years, the time is countless.
EM: When you used to play Madden as a kid, did the game help teach you about different pass routes or defenses?
CN: Not per se, but Madden gives fans a watered down version of actual football, and it’s great, and it’s needed. Where I’m at in my life, I know much more than the plays that Madden has to offer. As a professional football player, I know more than the schematics being offered, so when I play, I see the Cover-Two in the game, but I know it’s Cover-Two in a different sense. When you play against someone like Troy Polamalu or Ed Reed or Patrick Peterson or The Honey Badger, they all have different styles, and you can’t mimic that in a virtual game. When you play in the real NFL, it’s these different styles and tendencies that you need to be aware of beyond just knowing that the defense is in a Cover-Two.
EM: You’re not only in the game this year as digital Cam on the Panthers, you’re also in the new Gauntlet mode, talking trash when players mess up. What about Gauntlet mode stands out to you as a great new way to play Madden?
CN: It’s something that gives the gamer a new spin, which makes Madden a game that can be played at different times while offering different challenges. The Gauntlet is something where you’re trying to gain points in a single player game, and it’s this old traditional Pac-Man approach where you try to get the high score. It’s one of those things where your friends are going to try to come over to your house and put up the high score on your console. That’s the fun thing about it. Then you add in boss battles where you’re kicking field goals through hurricanes and stuff like that that you’ve never seen in Madden before, and I think this mode is really going to be something people are talking about when it comes to Madden 15.
EM: The Madden cover is now decided by cover vote, and you’ve finished in second place twice. Will the third time be the charm?
CN: Who knows, but I have to say, this past one with Richard Sherman, I had more fun on that than any other because it was real people who actually play the game, and the environment was just so electric, it was really fun. I think no matter what the outcome was, it didn’t dictate how I felt leaving the [Madden] event.
EM: What’s your gaming setup like at home?
CN: I got two TVs so I can have both a PlayStation and an Xbox going at once. When I’m finishing up one game, I can connect the other game up. That’s how much of a gamer I am. People don’t really know that, but I’m really a nerd when it comes to getting good at a game. Madden brings out the nerd in me. [Laughs] When I’m into something, I’m in it. My momma will tell you that, how I got whooped so many times playing games when I was supposed to be on punishment. But nevertheless, I really love playing people online, playing the fans. These people talk so much trash, but that’s what Madden is all about. It’s about bringing different people from different cultures together to play the game of football, the game that I love.
EM: Your character is so big in Madden, you’re the one quarterback who can really lay the Hit Stick on a defender if you a throw an interception. Ever find yourself doing that in the game?
CN: Just like in real life, if you intercept a pass, you’re going to have to pay. [Laughs] I feel like I’m one of the few quarterbacks who can deliver a good, hard blow and make the defender fumble.
EM: Do you always play as Carolina, or do you prefer another team in the game?
CN: You better believe I’m playing as Carolina. I’ve been waiting 25 years to be in the game. No more creating Ace Boogie. No more creating Cam Newton. I’m actually in the game. I’m living the dream being in the video game, and right now, I’m living it up.