Madden NFL Video Game Franchise Retrospective

It’s the long running and extremely successful American Football series centered on the Superbowl-winning coach of the Oakland Raiders. Developed and published by EA, this series made its debut in 1988 for the Apple II series of computers as “John Madden Football.” As a result of Madden’s uncompromising demand for authentic football, this sports simulation forced EA to extend the development time by an unprecedented four years, and push the limits of contemporary technology. Since then, Madden has continued to be the the most authentic football video game series for over 20 years. Join WatchMojo.com as we take a look back at the history of the Madden NFL video game franchise.
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Madden NFL Video Game Franchise Retrospective

It’s the long running and extremely successful American Football series centered on the Superbowl-winning coach of the Oakland Raiders. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be taking a look back at the history of the popular Madden NFL video game franchise.

Developed and published by EA, this series made its debut in 1988 for the Apple II series of computers as “John Madden Football.” Originally intended to star famous quarterback Joe Montana, his involvement with Atari led EA developer Trip Hawkins to enlist the name and expertise of coach and commentator John Madden.

As a result of Madden’s uncompromising demand for authentic football, this sports simulation forced EA to extend the development time by an unprecedented four years, and push the limits of contemporary technology. This was due to Madden demanding that they program a real-world 11 player per team setup, rather than compromising by reducing the player count to six. This not only made Madden the most authentic football simulation of the time with dazzling physics, but caused in-game slow-down, which frustrated many players.

Despite its long development time and technical hurdles, the game found tremendous success when a second iteration was released two years later in 1990. Further separating the budding franchise from the competition was its inclusion of over 113 real-world football plays, and exceptional graphics. This caused John Madden Football for the Genesis to become an industry-wide game changer for both EA and Sega in the early 90s, as they each benefited from its unprecedented popularity.

Since then, the game series has spawned annual updates, while simultaneously being renamed “Madden NFL” in 1993 after EA acquired the right to use real-world NFL teams and players. By 1998, the game included a franchise-management mode, giving players the ability to play multiple seasons, make draft-picks and trade players.

Even more shocking was EA Sports’ move to secure the rights to the NFL, its stadiums and players in 2004. This gave them a monopoly over all NFL subject matter until 2012.

Interestingly, the series also spawned the “Madden Curse”, in which most of the athletes showcased on its cover have come to experience an injury or major decline in their performance. Despite this, the games remain beloved by fans, who enjoyed the series evolving use of professional commentary, ability to make advanced plays, and re-watch games as through they were being broadcast on TV.

A major factor in Electronic Arts’ success as a video game company, Madden has sold over 85 million copies and made over 3 billion in sales since its inception in 1988. Remaining a beloved franchise, it continues to resonate with gamers despite John Madden’s retirement in 2009, though he continues to contribute his expertise and name to the series.
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