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How did Madden 12 for iOS escape EA's lab?

The customer reviews for Madden NFL 12 in the iTunes Store are brutal. It's an open question how such a flawed game got out of Electronic Arts' design workshops.

Madden NFL 12 EA Sports

Madden NFL 12 from EA Sports has been one of the most eagerly awaited and top-selling games of the year thus far--as it always is for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and other platforms.

But it looks like something went terribly wrong with the iOS versions for Apple's iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad.

A visit to the iTunes Store reveals a series of frustrated reviews from Madden 12 buyers calling for refunds. Words like "horrible," "awful, "junk," "dreadful," "disappointed," "poor," and "sluggish" crop up.

According to those consumer evaluations, the game crashes and multiple bugs make the electronic recreation of the National Football League practically "unplayable." The $6.99 iPhone version garnered 74 1-star vs. 42 5-star ratings. The $9.99 iPad version had more unhappy customers, with 50 1-star vs. 15 5-star ratings.

I couldn't take online complaints as gospel truth, so I downloaded the game for both iPhone 4 and iPad 2 and took some time to replay the Super Bowl on both platforms. I can't tell you if the Green Bay Packers or Pittsburgh Steelers won my video game rematches because I wasn't able to complete either game.

The iPhone 4 version crashed on two occasions, even after I quit the app and restarted the iPhone. The iPad 2 version stayed open and stable, but displayed bizarre player behavior--especially players running in the wrong direction regardless of game controls. At one point, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers started running backward and simply kept going until the Steelers scored a safety. The game didn't respond to its controls--or to my swearing.

Like other disgruntled buyers, I'm left to ask how such a clunky, troubled game made it onto the market when a giant developer like Electronic Arts had a year to update a game it releases annually. I sent multiple requests to EA in Redwood City, Calif., to get a comment on the game and any possible improvements that might be en route. I have yet to receive a response.

The game is now in version 1.0.6 and that update from earlier this month states: "Update NOW. We've made some behind-the-scenes adjustments to enhance overall gameplay."

The reviews aren't markedly better yet, so there's obviously still work to do.

If and when I hear from EA, you'll know.