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It’s Maddening!

Well another NFL Super Bowl is in the books and with that another football season comes to a close. Football is arguably the most popular sport in the United State (and possibly the world). With the season now over many fans will drive themselves crazy waiting for the next season. How will some of them pass the time till next season? Well most will pickup EA’s Madden NFL video game to help fill that void left by the end of the football season. Madden is one of the most popular and best-selling sports games in history. Today let’s do a retrospective on the Madden series, looking at the struggles it faced early on, to how it became one of the most dominant sports games in history.

Electronic Art’s (EA) Trip Hawkins had the original concept of the game. In 1984 Hawkins then approached John Madden to see if he would give his endorsement and experience to the project. For those that don’t know Madden is named after John Madden a famous Super-Bowl winning coach with the Oakland Raider as well as a famous NFL commentator. Madden agreed to lend his name to Hawkin’s game, however  Madden had a huge demand that the game be as realistic as possible which made the game take 4 extra years to produce.  EA also would reach out to Bethesda Softworks to help them finish making the first game. However Bethesda would sue EA over their refusal to publish new versions of their Gridiron football game, ending their relationship. This however didn’t stop EA from using the Bethesda physics engine.


EA released John Madden Football in 1988 for the Apple-II computer entertainment system. The game was called the most realistic football simulation on the back of each game’s box. The game sold well and it was truly one of EA’s first big successes.

In the early 90s EA was looking to make the next John Madden Football game, but had trouble finding a gaming system to release it on. Nintendo feared the game wouldn’t be popular and would tank in sales, so they wouldn’t pick it up from EA. However SEGA reached out to EA and gave them the rights to make it on the SEGA Master System. John Madden Football was then released for said system doing extremely well selling millions of copies and reaching the top of many gaming charts. SEGA would continue to produce Madden game for their new system the SEGA Genesis until around 1999.

EA would soon start branching out after having so much commercial success with SEGA. in 1996  EA along with Bethesda Visual Concepts and Stormfront Studios struggled to deliver Madden NFL 96 to the newly released Sony Playstation. This led to EA hiring Tiburon Entertainment to make Madden NFL 97, and Tiburon would go on to merge with EA to develop all future Madden titles after that. EA would go on to relaase their Madden NFL games for different systems including the Playstation, Nintendo 64, Playstaion 2, Gamecube, Xbox.

Madden would continue to grow and grow for that point on. Later versions of Madden would continue to add more and more ways to play as well as better graphics and physics to make the games feel more realistic.

Madden turned 25 in 2013, making it the longest running sports game in history. Yes truly Madden had a great impact as without Madden many sports games might not have been able to strive in the gaming industry. Madden set the bar in the 90s as to what a good sports game is and it continues to raise that bar in the 2000s. So NFL fans just because the season is over, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a little Madden, the most realistic football simulator ever.

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