Cowher to star in new football coaching game

Online sports gaming company Quick Hit (formerly known as Play Hard Sports), has signed Bill Cowher to appear in the upcoming flash-based coaching game Quick Hit Football 2009.

Says Cowher: "I find most video games too complicated to play. Then I heard about Quick Hit Football and realized that they were building something unique and interesting."

According to the press release: "Quick Hit Football (QHF) will launch concurrently with the 2009 NFL season, but will open for beta in just a few months. Instantly accessible on the PC via flash-enabled web-browsers, QHF allows registered users to take on the role of coach and general manager of their own football team in an effort to rise in the ranks and establish a dynasty against franchises from across the globe."

ESPN caught up with Quick Hit's CEO, Jeff Anderson, to find out more on the upcoming title:

ESPN: What's the idea behind the new game?

Jeff Anderson: If you look at a game like Madden, it's a really great, hard-core, extreme game that's really geared toward that 18-24 male who spends 80 hours a week playing computer games. On the other end of the world is the text-based fantasy game, which is great too, but it tends to also target the hard-core, text-based guys who are really excited about the latest injuries and the waiver wire. We, in building this company, realized that there was this huge hole between the two extremes. No one was really going after the mass market. No one was really trying to make a product that was possible for say, the medium gamer to play. So if you didn't have the thumb dexterity or if you didn't speak Maddenese and you weren't excited about trolling through injury reports, how could you experience real football and feel like a fan of the game?

That's why we pulled together three main areas: The appeal and breath of sports. Flash accessibility, so if you give me an email address, I give you a team where you go head-to-head, call plays, call defenses and execute a full football game. And by creating that in Flash, you're getting the game almost instantly as the technical entry is almost zero -- I think Flash is installed on like 99% of machines in the marketplace, and being in Flash, it really requires very little computing power as we can get away with on the low-end, a gig or two machine. So we now have the platform and the potential to reach a very wide audience with a very special product.

Our vision is to get the game in the hands of as many users as possible, and with no price being charged in the free-to-play game, in this market in particular, that makes for a very attractive value proposition.

ESPN: Do you also get to control the players once the play is called, or do you just call the plays and watch the sequence play out?

Jeff Anderson: You are the coach, so it's the latter. We want you to be involved in the higher-level decision making in the game. One of the problems people have with other sports video games out there is that they don't make you feel very smart when you play. I think the average football fan, when talk comes to the Tampa-2 defense, their eyes roll back in their heads. We want this to be accessible to the average guy and by forcing them to try to have the thumb dexterity of a six-year-old, that wasn't for us. We want you to use your innate knowledge of football to watch a game and use strategic decision making. As part of that, we've decided to work with various coaches from the league so that we can benefit from their knowledge of the NFL.

ESPN: EA already has NFL Head Coach. What is going to separate your game, especially since you don't have the NFL license to work with?

Jeff Anderson: I think spiritually, they're very similar. NFL Head Coach does want to put you in position of being the head coach, but I think practically, there are some sharp distinctions. They want you to do a lot of very hard-core training, they want you to go through a lot of simulation, and we're more about the fun and spirit of the game. We also let you advance your players. If you play Madden against me and we play 500 times, what's different that 501st time we play? Well, in our game, we want you to actually be able to improve your quarterback and the rest of your team so that you're building your players up through an advancement system in the game. So we're much more mass market than Head Coach. Our time of game is only about 15 minutes, we're Flash based, and we're free to play. They have no persistence or online community, they have no tournaments, rankings, or social structure, but we do all those things.

Given all that, we wanted to have someone who had that coaching background, and after talking to a lot of people in the marketplace about coaches with high integrity and quality of execution on the field, one guy who stood out was Bill Cowher. He was somebody who has had tremendous success, obviously as a Super Bowl winning head coach, and he is someone who is also very excited about the future of this medium. He has been active with CBS as an analyst, helping fans breakdown the complexities of the NFL, and we really wanted to work with him to help us launch our game. And it really made a difference to him that we were a game with mass market appeal.

ESPN: How customizable are the teams and players? Can you edit the names and jersey colors?

Jeff Anderson: Totally customizable. You can pick the team, the team name, the colors, the stadium, the stadium name. We really want this to be a reflection of the user. Another thing you'll notice while playing is that after every quarter, you'll see commercials in the game. That's how we make money. We will also have some micro-transactions for players who really love the game, so that they can go in and purchase more plays or a deeper playbook.

ESPN: Are you planning other products beyond football?

Jeff Anderson: Football is our first product launching fall 2009, then we're going to follow that up with other sports titles. We haven't made any announcements, but obviously baseball, basketball, soccer, and hockey are all titles we'll be looking to do. We really see ourselves as an online sports destination where people will want to come to play all different kinds of products.

To sign up for the game's beta, head to www.quickhit.com.