|Genres||American football video game|
|Developers||High Score Entertainment|
|Platforms||Apple II, Amiga, Macintosh, SNES, Sega Genesis, Game Gear, 3DO, Nintendo 64, Nintendo GameCube, Wii, Wii U, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Windows PC, Mac OS X, DOS, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita, Sega Saturn, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One, iOS, Nintendo 3DS, Android, BlackBerry PlayBook|
|Platform of origin||Commodore 64, Commodore 128, Apple II, MS-DOS|
|First release||John Madden Football
|Latest release||Madden NFL 25
|Official website||Official website|
Madden NFL (known as John Madden Football before 1993) is an American football video game series developed by Electronic Arts Tiburon for EA Sports. The game series is named after Pro Football Hall of Famer John Madden, a well-known former Super Bowl–winning coach of the Oakland Raiders and color commentator. The series is the best selling EA Sports series in the United States. The games have consistently been a best seller, and has even spawned TV shows where players compete. Among the game's realistic features include sophisticated playbooks and player statistics, and voice commentary that allows players to hear the game as if it were a real TV broadcast.
The series was originally conceived by Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins, who then approached Madden in 1984 for his endorsement and expertise. Due to Madden's insistence that the game be as realistic as possible, the first version of John Madden Football was not released until 1988. The second version of the game was released in 1990, with annual versions since then. The series' name was changed to Madden NFL in 1993 after EA acquired the rights to use NFL teams and players. Despite Madden's retirement as a broadcaster in 2009, he continues to lend his name and provide expertise for the game.
- 1 Overview
- 1.1 Voice commentary
- 1.2 Series overview
- 1.3 1980s: Creation
- 1.4 1990s
- 1.5 2000s
- 1.6 2010s
- 1.7 License history and spinoffs
- 2 Madden Curse
- 3 Madden Bowl
- 4 Annual EA Super Bowl simulation
- 5 References
- 6 Further reading
- 7 External links
As of 2010[update] Electronic Arts has sold more than 85 million copies of Madden NFL, and as many as two million in one week, for more than $3 billion in total sales. At EA Tiburon in Orlando, Florida a team of 30 developers and more than 100 game testers works on each new game in the series, which as of 2012[update] contains more than 10 million lines of source code.
Madden describes himself as "never a good player" of Madden NFL, and prefers to watch others play. Although retiring from broadcasting in 2009, he nonetheless continues to participate in each Madden's development:
He breaks down upcoming rules changes. He brings up concussions, helmet-to-helmet hits and gimmick quarterbacks. A digression on how the Dome Patrol-era Saints used to frustrate Bill Walsh's 49ers teams with short linebacker drops becomes a lecture on the obsolescence of the fullback, which then morphs into a short aside on player character.
|“||Madden recalls a time in San Francisco when a Philadelphia Eagles player rushed into a hotel room asking, "Where's Madden?" When people pointed to the Fox commentator, the player said, "No, not that Madden. I want the game!"||”|
—Los Angeles Times, 2002
EA estimates that the series has five to seven million dedicated fans. Among the fans are NFL players, who typically play as themselves regardless of their electronic counterparts' abilities. They often complain to Madden and EA about allegedly inaccurate ratings of their talent, or ask for changes in their in-game appearance. Such complaints began as early as 1990, confusing the broadcaster, who did not contribute the player statistics for that year's version due to lack of time.
Coaches and players have said that Madden has influenced their play, and football broadcasts on television use Madden-like visual cues to more closely resemble it. The NFL reportedly considers the series its "33rd franchise", because each week during the season EA Sports receives the same searchable film database of every play that each of the league's 32 teams do. The game is the NFL's second-largest source of licensing revenue after apparel, and an important part of the league's recruitment of children as new football fans.
Voice commentary in Madden allows players or watchers to hear the game being called as if it were a real game on TV. For most versions of the game, this commentary was performed by Madden himself and his contemporary broadcast partner. Initially, this was Pat Summerall (Madden's partner during his days at CBS and Fox during the early 1980s on through the early 2000s) until Summerall retired; the role was then filled by Al Michaels, John's broadcast partner on ABC Monday Night Football (2002–2005) and NBC Sunday Night Football (2006–2008). Madden NFL 09 would end up being the last version to feature Madden's commentary. By that time, he felt that reciting a script covering every single scenario in the game was boring and tedious—Madden recalled the long hours spent alone in the recording studio as "the most difficult part of any part that I've ever had in the game and the least amount of fun"—but said that in the decision to remove him from game commentary, "I feel that something is being taken away from me". Madden was replaced by Cris Collinsworth as color commentator, who was then paired with Tom Hammond in Madden NFL 10, and Gus Johnson in Madden NFL 11 and Madden NFL 12. Madden NFL 13 marks the debut of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms doing the commentary, including them appearing in an in-booth cutscene before the game.
In a similar approach used by the automobile industry, until Madden NFL 25, the Madden series has always historically been numbered one year later than the year in which it is released. However, the season it represents is the year in which the game is released (thus, Madden NFL 13 was actually released in 2012 and is modeled after the 2011 NFL season).
|Title||Release year||PC||4th gen||5th gen||6th gen||7th gen||8th gen||Handheld||Other platforms||Notes||On the cover|
|John Madden Football (1988)||1988||MS-DOS||C=64/C=128, Apple II||John Madden|
|John Madden Football (1990)||1990||Genesis, SNES||Amiga||John Madden|
|John Madden Football II||1991||MS-DOS||John Madden|
|John Madden Football '92||1991||Genesis||John Madden|
|John Madden Football '93||1992||Genesis, SNES||John Madden|
|Madden NFL '94||1993||Genesis, SNES||John Madden|
|John Madden Football||1994||3DO||John Madden|
|Madden NFL '95||1994||Genesis, SNES||Game Boy, Game Gear, TV game||John Madden with Erik Williams of the Dallas Cowboys and Karl Wilson of the San Francisco 49ers in the background|
|Madden NFL '96||1995||Windows||Genesis, SNES||Game Boy, Game Gear||John Madden|
|Madden NFL 97||1996||Windows||Genesis, SNES||PS, Saturn||Game Boy||John Madden|
|Madden Football 64||1997||N64||John Madden|
|Madden NFL 98||1997||Windows||Genesis, SNES||PS, Saturn||John Madden|
|Madden NFL 99||1998||Windows||PS, N64||John Madden / Garrison Hearst of the San Francisco 49ers (PAL version)|
|Madden NFL 2000||1999||Windows||PS, N64||Game Boy Color||Macintosh||John Madden with Barry Sanders of the Detroit Lions in the background / Dorsey Levens of the Green Bay Packers (European PAL version)|
|Madden NFL 2001||2000||Windows||PS, N64||PS2||Game Boy Color||Eddie George of the Tennessee Titans|
|Madden NFL 2002||2001||Windows||PS, N64||PS2, NGC, Xbox||Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance||Daunte Culpepper of the Minnesota Vikings|
|Madden NFL 2003||2002||Windows||PS||PS2, NGC, Xbox||Game Boy Advance||Marshall Faulk of the St. Louis Rams|
|Madden NFL 2004||2003||Windows||PS||PS2, NGC, Xbox||Game Boy Advance||Michael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons|
|Madden NFL 2005||2004||Windows||PS||PS2, NGC, Xbox||Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Tapwave Zodiac||Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens|
|Madden NFL 06||2005||Windows||PS2, NGC, Xbox||Xbox 360||Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, PSP, Windows Mobile, Mobile phone||Donovan McNabb of the Philadelphia Eagles|
|Madden NFL 07||2006||Windows||PS2, NGC, Xbox||Xbox 360, PS3, Wii||Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, PSP||Shaun Alexander of the Seattle Seahawks|
|Madden NFL 08||2007||Windows||PS2, NGC, Xbox||Xbox 360, PS3, Wii||Nintendo DS, PSP||Mac OS X||Vince Young of the Tennessee Titans / Luis Castillo of the San Diego Chargers (Spanish language version)|
|Madden NFL 09||2008||PS2, Xbox||Xbox 360, PS3, Wii||Nintendo DS, PSP||Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers / Brett Favre of the New York Jets (alternative cover) / Roberto Garza of the Chicago Bears (Spanish language version)|
|Madden NFL 10||2009||PS2||Xbox 360, PS3, Wii||PSP, iOS||Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals|
|Madden NFL 11||2010||PS2||Xbox 360, PS3, Wii||PSP, iOS||Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints|
|Madden NFL Football||2011||3DS||Madden NFL Football logo|
|Madden NFL 12||2011||PS2||Xbox 360, PS3, Wii||PSP, iOS, Android, BlackBerry Playbook||Peyton Hillis of the Cleveland Browns|
|Madden NFL 13||2012||Xbox 360, PS3, Wii||Wii U||PS Vita, iOS, Android||Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions|
|Madden NFL 25||2013||Xbox 360, PS3||Xbox One, PS4||Barry Sanders of the Detroit Lions and Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings|
|“||The real reason that I founded Electronic Arts was because I wanted to make computerized versions of games like Strat-O-Matic.||”|
Trip Hawkins created a clone of the Strat-o-Matic paper and dice-based football simulation game as a teenager. The game was unsuccessful due to its complexity, and he hoped to one day delegate its rules to a computer. At Harvard College, where Hawkins played football for the Crimson, he wrote a football simulation for the PDP-11 minicomputer which, he later said, predicted that the Miami Dolphins would defeat the Minnesota Vikings 23-6 (actually 24-7) in the 1974 Super Bowl. After founding Electronic Arts in 1982—"The real reason that I founded [it] was because I wanted to make computerized versions of games like Strat-O-Matic", Hawkins later said—the company began designing a football game for the era's microcomputers. Hawkins first approached childhood hero Joe Montana to endorse the proposed game but the quarterback already had an endorsement deal with Atari, and his second choice, Cal coach Joe Kapp, demanded royalties.
In 1984 Hawkins approached Madden. The CEO and game producer Joe Ybarra arranged a follow-up meeting with the broadcaster during an Amtrak train trip over two days because of Madden's fear of flying. The EA executives promised that the proposed game would be a sophisticated football simulation, and asked the retired Oakland Raiders coach for his name and expertise. Madden knew nothing about computers beyond his telestrator but agreed; he had once taught a class at the University of California, Berkeley called "Football for Fans", and envisioned the program as a tool for teaching and testing plays. (Madden still sees the game as an educational tool. When asked in 2012 to describe Madden NFL, he called it "a way for people to learn the game and participate in the game at a pretty sophisticated level.") Hawkins and Ybarra spent the train trip learning football plays and strategies from Madden "from dawn to midnight".
Early plans for the game envisioned six or seven players per team because of technical limitations but Madden insisted on having 11 players per team, stating "I'm not putting my name on it if it's not real." Ybarra, who had played chess, not football, in high school, became an expert on the subject through his work, but found that 11 players overwhelmed contemporary home computers. The project took three years, more than twice the length of the average development process, and became known within the company as "Trip's Folly"; Madden believed at times that EA had given up. The company hired Bethesda Softworks to finish the game, but the relationship ended when Bethesda sued for EA's failure to publish new versions of its Gridiron! football game as promised, adding to the delay.
EA already had a copy of Madden's 1980 Raiders playbook, and hired San Francisco Chronicle writer Frank Cooney, who had designed his own figurine football game with numerical skill ratings. Although the company could not yet legally use NFL teams' or players' names, Cooney obtained real plays from NFL teams. Madden turned down the opportunity to buy an "unlimited" number of options for EA stock in its initial public offering, a decision he later called "the dumbest thing I ever did in my life."
Using Bethesda's physics engine, John Madden Football debuted in 1988 for the Apple II series of computers. The back of the box called the game "The First Real Football Simulation" and quoted Madden: "Hey, if there aren't 11 players, it isn't real football." Documentation included diagrams of dozens of offensive and defensive plays with Madden's commentary on his coaching strategies and philosophy. Given its sophisticated playbook the game's interface was complex, and Madden's insistence on 11 players caused it to run slowly.
In early 1990 EA hired Park Place Productions to develop Madden for the Sega Genesis video game console. The company had already developed ABC Monday Night Football with "arcade-style, action-heavy" game play, and its Madden also emphasized hyperreality compared to the computer version's focus on exact simulation.
EA reverse engineered the console in hopes of selling the game without paying the standard $8 to $10 license fee per cartridge, then proposed to Sega a compromise of $2 per cartridge and a $2 million cap on the fee. The console maker agreed, afraid that EA would sell its reverse-engineered knowledge to other companies; the agreement saved EA $35 million over the next three years. As its own Joe Montana-endorsed football game would miss the 1990 Christmas shopping season, Sega asked EA to let it sell Madden with the Montana name. EA refused, but offered a crippled alternative that lacked Madden's 3-D graphics and most of its 113 plays. Joe Montana Football sold well despite shipping after Christmas 1990, and remained popular after BlueSky Software took over development. John Madden Football for the Genesis became both the first hugely successful Madden game and the first "industry game-changer" for EA and Sega, however, helping the console to gain market share against the Super Nintendo. From 1992 to 1994, Mega placed the game at #1 in their monthly Top 100 Mega Drive Games of All Time.
In 1990, EA producer Richard Hilleman brought in veteran sports game designer Scott Orr, who had founded the mid-1980s Commodore 64 game publisher GameStar, and had led the design of their best-selling sports games. The team of Orr and Hilleman designed and led the development of what is today still recognizable as the modern Madden. Early versions of Madden were created by external development studios such as Bethesda, Visual Concepts, and Stormfront Studios. After Visual Concepts failed to deliver Madden NFL '96 for the new PlayStation in 1995, EA hired Tiburon Entertainment for Madden NFL '97 and later acquired the company, centralizing development in-house. EA's refusal to release Madden and other sports titles for the Sega Dreamcast in 1999 contributed to the console's lack of success and Sega's exit from the hardware market.
|This section requires expansion. (September 2012)|
In 1998 Electronic Arts added "Franchise Mode" to Madden, giving players the ability to play multiple seasons, make off-season draft picks, and trade players. Within Franchise Mode, players take on the role of General Manager and manage all personnel matters, including contracts, free agency, draft picks, and hiring and firing coaches. The player also acts as a head coach-like character (although there is a head coach figure in-game), choosing which players to play, making substitutions, running practices, practicing gameplans, etc. Players may play with any of the NFL's 32 franchises, and can choose whether or not to have trade deadlines, salary caps, and if they want to start their Franchise with a 49-round fantasy draft of all active NFL players. Players can also upload created teams for use in the game. Once in game, players run training camp (individual drills for improving players' attributes), play in preseason games and compete in a regular 16-game NFL season, including playoffs and the Super Bowl.The player has the option to play any game in the simulation, including those involving other teams if he so desires, or may simulate through the games as he chooses. Most versions of Madden give a player 30 years with their franchise, sometimes with an opportunity to apply for the Hall of Fame at the end of the simulation.
Madden NFL 2000
Madden NFL 2000 was the first game for the 2000s decade and it featured many modes and features.
Madden NFL 2001
Madden NFL 2001 featured a segment called "Great Games" where you would be put in a situation where you control one team and would have to win the game with a set amount of time. If you win, you unlock either a new team or a team stadium. Overall there were more than 60 teams and over 80 stadiums in Madden NFL 2001.
Madden NFL 2002
Madden NFL 2002 featured for the first time create-a-team. Where you would make a team and play with that team in either Play Now or Franchise mode. It also featured Create-A-League mode but it never caught on. Create-A-Team was not featured in Madden NFL 13 and moving teams was first featured in Madden NFL 2004 called "Stadium" in the Franchise mode of the game.
Madden NFL 2003
There are multiple modes of game play, from a quick head-to-head game to running a team for a whole season or even multiple seasons. Online play, which was a new feature for Madden NFL 2003 (in this version there are also mini-camp challenges) was only available for users of the PlayStation 2 console, Xbox console, or a Microsoft Windows PC until early 2004.
Madden NFL 2004
Also, starting with Madden NFL 2004, EA Sports created the new Playmaker tool, using the right analog joystick found on each of the adjustments previously unavailable in prior installments of the franchise. One such adjustment includes the ability to switch which direction a running play will go without changing the formation. Prior to the Playmaker tool, the Player could only call one of four available "hot routes." With Playmaker and the use of the right thumb stick the player is given 4 additional Hot Route options. When the quarterback has the ball the Playmaker Tool can be used to make receivers alter their routes mid-play. When running the ball on offense, the runner can control the direction in which the blocker is going. Defensive alignment adjustments, however, were not available leading to obvious imbalance in favor of the Offensive player.
Madden NFL 2005
In Madden NFL 2005, EA Sports ran a campaign with the Theme "Fear the D" emphasising their improvements on the "other side of the ball." In an attempt to re-balance the players experience, EA gave a Playmaker Tool to the defense. Similar to the offensive Playmaker Tool, the defensive Playmaker allows the player to make pre-snap defensive adjustments. EA Sports further utilized the right analog joystick on defense by creating the "Hit Stick", an option on defense that allows the controlled player to make big hits, with a simple flick, that increases the chances the ball carrier will fumble. Also introduced for the first time is the "Formation Shift." This new feature allowed players to shift their formation in the pre-snap audible menu without actually changing the play. For example if you call a run play up the middle out of a goal line formation, you could then call a formation shift and make your players spread out into a four wide receiver formation while still in the same running play. The problem with this new function was that EA also added a fatigue penalty for the defense causing defensive players to get more tired each time there was a formation shift. This led to players on offense calling multiple formation shifts each play making the defensive players too exhausted to keep up and force them to substitute out of the game until they are fully rested. This led to more imbalance that could only be fixed by turning off fatigue.
2005 also added "EA Sports Radio", a fictional show that plays during the menu screen of Franchise mode to provide a greater sense of a storyline during gameplay. It features Tony Bruno as the host, who often interviews players and coaches about how the season is going and also has quiz questions in which fake listeners call in to make attempts at answering football-related questions. It included mock interviews of famous NFL players and coaches throughout the in-game season. Some fans have criticized EA Sports for not including new features to the 'programming' as the radio became stale after only two seasons in franchise mode, but the feature drew acclaim for adding content to the Franchise menu. Also added was the Newspaper where the player could look at National News from licensed USA Today and Licensed Local papers for almost each of the 32 NFL teams. Lastly, 2005 also saw the introduction of multiple progressions during franchise mode. Previously NFL players in Madden would only progress or regress at the end of each season. Now at the end of Week 5, 11, and 17 the game would use a program to "progress" your players based on their performance in addition to end of season progression.
Madden NFL 06
In Madden NFL 06, the "Truck Stick" was introduced. This feature allows the offensive player to lower his shoulder and break a tackle, or back juke to avoid one. Another new feature is the Superstar Mode, which allows the player to take control of a rookie, and progress through his career. This includes an IQ test, interviews, workouts, the NFL Draft, hiring an agent, and other aspects of a superstar's life.
EA also introduced the QB Vision feature in the 2006 installment. With this feature, a cone of spotlight emits from the quarterback during passing plays, simulating his field of vision. To make an accurate pass, the quarterback must have his intended receiver in his field of vision. Passing to a receiver not in the cone reduces pass accuracy significantly. The size of the quarterback's vision cone is directly correlated to his Awareness and Passer Accuracy rating; Brett Favre and Peyton Manning see nearly the entire field at once, whereas an inexperienced quarterback such as J.P. Losman or Kyle Boller sees only a sliver of the field. This feature also allows for bigger plays and more interceptions.
Also, EA sports added the Smart Route. This means that when pressing a hot route to the corresponding receiver, you put the analog stick down and the receiver will run to the first down, and you can throw him the ball.
While current gen Madden remained the same with the exception of a "Smart Route" and "QB Vision", this was also the first year Madden was released on the next-gen Xbox 360. It was completely stripped down, almost every change made in the previous gen was wiped away.
Madden NFL 07
In Madden NFL 07, EA introduced Lead Blocker Controls which allow users to control blockers during running plays. In addition, EA redefined the Truck Stick into the Highlight Stick. With the Highlight Stick, users can have their running backs perform different running moves and combos, instead of just bowling over defenders. Truck Stick features still exist for bigger backs, but not for smaller backs who would never realistically use them anyway. Instead, more agile backs perform acrobatic ducks and dodges to avoid tackles.
Madden NFL 08
In Madden NFL 08, the Weapons feature was added, allowing superstar players to be noticed. Randy Moss, for example, is a Go-To-Guy, allowing him to make amazing one-handed grabs. Peyton Manning is a Franchise QB. It also includes new skill drills, Hit Stick 2.0, and Ring of a Champion features. Madden NFL 08 was also the last Nintendo Gamecube game ever released.
Madden NFL 09
Madden NFL 09 was released on August 12, 2008. Citing business concerns, EA chose not to release it on the PC platform. The game features quarterback Brett Favre on the front cover. Madden NFL 09 was the first of the series to offer online, league game play, allowing up to 32 players to compete in an online, simulated NFL season. According to EA Sports Senior Producer Phil Frazier, up to 32 players will be able to participate in competitive games, the NFL Draft and conduct trades between their teams. The game was also the first of the series to incorporate a Madden IQ. The Madden IQ is used to automatically gauge your skills through a series of mini-games consisting of run offense, pass offense, run defense, and pass defense. At the end of each of the drills, the player receives a score ranging from rookie to all-Madden. The final Madden IQ is a mixture of those scores which is used to control the game's difficulty.
Madden NFL 10
Madden NFL 10 was released on August 14, 2009. Compared to previous iterations, Madden NFL 10 has been extremely transparent with its development efforts, maintaining a weekly blog updates as well as a constant presence on various message boards. A new design team has also taken over the game, including members from NFL Head Coach 09. The direction of Madden NFL 10 has been shifted to much more of a realistic and simulation focus, with info already released including Procedural Awareness (a robust head tracking system), a new philosophy on player ratings, and big improvements to realism in QB play, WR/DB play, and other areas across the game. Madden 10 has several new features including the PRO-TAK animation technology, which allows up to nine man gang tackles and fumble pile-ups to help players 'fight for every yard', in this year's tagline. Madden 10 also features an in-game weekly recap show called The Extra Point. Madden 10 offers a series of multiple play packages. This allows for more options to score. This version features a completely overhauled rating system for players, featuring new categories such as throw on the run and specific ratings for short, medium, and deep passes. The Wii version has been criticized for the cartoon-like graphics, as opposed to the more realistic graphics of the other platform releases. The game's soundtrack features rap, alternative rock, rap metal and hard rock bands such as Nirvana, Pantera, System of a Down, and Kid Rock.
Madden NFL 11
Madden NFL 11 was released on July 27, 2010 (moved up from its original release date of August 10, 2010 for promotional reasons), and features Drew Brees on the cover. It features several new additions to the franchise, such as Online Team Play, Online Scouting and online attribute boosts for co-op play. Along with these new game additions is a new rating (sponsored by Old Spice) known as Swagger. Although early speculation was that this new rating would be reflective of "confidence" or "composure," it was quickly confirmed to be directly tied to a player's personality for celebrations.
Madden NFL 12
Madden NFL 13
Madden NFL 13 was released on August 28, 2012, and features Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson as the cover athlete. Madden NFL 13 is the first Madden game to be released on the PlayStation Vita, and is also the first game in the series to have Kinect support as well as a new physics engine promoting real in game physics.
Madden NFL 25
In early 2013, EA Sports announced that the next installment of the Madden series will be released on August 27, 2013. As this installment is the 25th anniversary of the series, the game will be called Madden NFL 25, instead of numbering it Madden NFL 14 with the year like the previous versions. It has also been stated that EA Sports is looking to include actual NFL referees in the game, with all 17 head officials getting their faces scanned in the game. The cover vote will consist of two brackets containing past players ("Old School") and active players ("New School"), with the winners from each bracket competing in the final.
"Old School" player and Pro Football Hall of Famer Barry Sanders was chosen as the cover athlete for Madden NFL 25 on the April 24, 2013, episode of ESPN's SportsNation. The "New School" finalist was Adrian Peterson.
License history and spinoffs
Until 1993, the Madden series did not have official licenses from the National Football League or National Football League Players Association (NFLPA). Madden NFL '94 was the first game in the series to include real NFL teams, and Madden NFL '95 added an NFLPA license for real players. The licenses restrict EA from including certain content in current Madden games, such as the humorous ambulance that picks up injured players in 1991's John Madden Football II. The NFL Coaches Association sold the rights to have NFL coaches' names appear in the Madden NFL games; Madden NFL 2001 was the first game in the series to feature this license. Neither New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick nor Bill Parcells appeared in the game as they are not members of the NFL Coaches Association. Likewise, non-NFLPA players (such as Thurman Thomas during his playing career) do not appear in the game, instead being replaced with generic placeholders.
In 2004, EA signed an exclusive license through 2009 with the NFL and the NFLPA to give the company the exclusive rights to use the NFL's teams, stadia, and players in a video game. This exclusive license prevents other official NFL video games. The deal, reportedly worth $300 million and later extended to 2013, has been widely criticized. Some competitors, such as the Blitz: The League series, have elected to continue, seeking to distinguish themselves through innovative gameplay while others, such as the NFL 2K series, have ceased production. In 2007, 2K Sports released All Pro Football 2K8, which used former NFL stars.
Head Coach series
In August 2006, EA Sports debuted NFL Head Coach, which utilized the Madden engine to create a football management simulation. The game was criticized as buggy and unrealistic. EA Tiburon rebuilt the game from the ground up, addressing flaws and creating a proprietary engine, over the course of three years. NFL Head Coach 09 was released on August 12, 2008 bundled with the special edition of Madden NFL 09 and as a standalone game on September 2, 2008.
Madden NFL Football
Prior to 1999, every annual installment of the Madden NFL series primarily featured Madden on its cover. In 1999, Electronic Arts selected Garrison Hearst to appear on the PAL version's cover, and has since featured one of the league’s top players on every annual installment despite Madden's opposition.
While appearing on the cover has become an honor akin to appearing on the Wheaties box, much like the Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx, certain players who appeared on Madden video game box art have experienced a decline in performance, usually due to an injury.
- Garrison Hearst appearing on the '1999 PAL cover was known to be the "start" of the curse, as after his appearance, he broke his ankle and was out for two seasons. Upon his return, however, Hearst rushed for 1,206 yards and won his second NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award.
- After Barry Sanders' appearance on the 2000 cover, Sanders abruptly retired before training camp, falling just short of the record for most career rushing yards.
- Dorsey Levens appeared on the PAL version of the 2000 game, and the Green Bay Packers, whom Levens was playing for at the time, failed to make the 2000 playoffs, and Levens was eventually released the year later.
- After Eddie George appeared on the 2001 cover, the Tennessee Titans lost in the divisional round in the 2000 playoffs. Late in the 4th quarter with the Titans down 17–10, a Steve McNair pass was bobbled by George and intercepted by Ray Lewis for a touchdown, sealing the game. George also never averaged more than 3.4 yards per carry for the rest of his career.
- Daunte Culpepper led the Minnesota Vikings to the playoffs in 2000, but after appearing on the Madden NFL 2002 cover, he threw 23 interceptions as the Vikings slumped to a 5–11 record. He also tied the record for most fumbles in a single season. While his career looked to be back on track in 2004 with a career season, he blew out both knees in 2005 and 2006 and never resembled the player he was at the start of the decade.
- Marshall Faulk appeared on the 2003 cover, and his career (and the success of the St. Louis Rams) severely declined afterwards. He did not register another 1,000-yard rushing season and his yards per carry average dropped from a consistent 5.4 over the previous three years to 4.5 in 2002 and 4.0 in 2003 and 2004. He started 21 out of a possible 32 games from 2002–2003 as knee injuries got the better of him. He underwent reconstructive knee surgery in 2005 and retired that same year. Since 2007, the Rams have a record of 22-73-1.
- After appearing on the cover of Madden NFL 2004, Michael Vick broke his fibula in a pre-season game against the Baltimore Ravens, and the Atlanta Falcons went 5–11. Years later it was discovered that he participated in an illegal dog-fighting ring and he was sent to prison.
- Ray Lewis, 2005 cover athlete and middle linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, had his season cut short in week 15 with a wrist injury. It was also Lewis' first season without an interception.
- In 2006, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb tore his ACL and meniscus in his right knee while jumping out of bounds in a game versus the Tennessee Titans, ending his season. McNabb also suffered a sports hernia in the first game of the season.
- Running back Shaun Alexander, then the league's reigning Most Valuable Player, was featured on the cover of Madden NFL 07, and sustained a foot injury that caused him to miss six starts. As a result, Alexander’s rushing statistics were substantially less than those from the previous season, and he never returned to true form. Alexander himself has asked, “Do you want to be hurt and on the cover, or just hurt?"
- In 2007, GameSpot and CNBC reported that a large number of LaDainian Tomlinson's fans, who believed in the Madden Curse, were strongly opposed to EA Sports' initial decision to feature him on the cover of Madden NFL 08, so much that a fan created SaveLTfromMadden.com to voice their disdain. Tomlinson eventually declined the offer, but stated it was solely due to contract negotiations.
- Madden NFL 08 cover featured Vince Young, the starting quarterback of the Tennessee Titans. Young missed one game of the 2007 season due to a minor injury, but for the rest of the season was roughly even with his 2006 performance. When Young appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to officially announce that he would appear on the cover of Madden NFL 08 he derided allegations of becoming the curse’s next victim, and stated, “I've done prayed about it and we're gonna go home and try to get to the playoffs and try to get to the Super Bowl. We'll see what happens."  In contrast, Young suffered longer-term injuries in 2008 (from which he came back in 2009) and 2010, which, combined with a coaching dispute, led to the Titans releasing Young prior to the 2011 season. Young played for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011, Young himself declaring the Eagles were a "Dream Team". The Eagles finished 8-8 in 2011 and 4-12 in 2012. Young was released by the Eagles in Spring 2012. Young was signed by the Buffalo Bills in May 2012, but was cut by the Bills prior to the 2012 regular season. In August 2013, Young was signed by the Green Bay Packers but released before the regular season began. This after Young stated in 2007 he would one day "be in the Hall of Fame".
- Luis Castillo appeared on the Spanish version of Madden NFL 08, and broke his tibia during the first game of the 2011 NFL season. He was released by the San Diego Chargers for the second time on July 19, 2012.
- Brett Favre appeared on the cover of Madden NFL 09 as a Green Bay Packer, under the impression that Favre was retired. However, shortly after the decision, Favre came back out of retirement and was traded to the New York Jets, where he was plagued by poor on-field performance and an off-field sexual harassment scandal. He also suffered an ankle injury as a Jet and later suffered a shoulder injury as a Viking that would end his career.
- On September 10, 2009, Larry Fitzgerald, wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals and safety Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers, were both featured on the cover of Madden NFL 10. Since this was the first year that there were two athletes on the cover, many believed the Madden Curse would be split up evenly between Polamalu and Fitzgerald. Others speculated that the curse would cause twice the damage to these athletes. Polamalu sprained his MCL in the first half of the season opener and missed the next four games. After returning, Polamalu played in three more games before injuring his posterior cruciate ligament on November 14, 2009 against Cincinnati, and missed more games as a result. The Steelers went 9-7 and missed the playoffs. Fitzgerald, on the other hand, started all 16 regular season and both playoff games for the Cardinals. He did not attend the Pro Bowl due to a rib injury, leaving Steve Smith of the New York Giants to take his spot in the 2010 Pro Bowl. He recorded 97 receptions (third-most of his NFL career), 1,092 yards (fourth-most), and a career-high 13 touchdowns.
- Madden NFL 11 cover athlete and New Orleans Saint Drew Brees played in every game of the 2010 NFL season. However, he threw twice as many interceptions (22) that season as in the 2009 Super Bowl-winning campaign (11). Also, his quarterback rating dropped nearly 20 points, and the Saints lost in the first round of the playoffs to the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks, the only team to date to make the playoffs with a losing record in a full-length season. He made the 2011 Pro Bowl as a reserve, after being unable to participate in the 2010 Pro Bowl, as the Saints had made the Super Bowl. Brees played 6 weeks of the NFL season with a torn MCL, a fact that was first outed by his teammate, Heath Evans, later confirmed by another teammate, Jon Stinchcomb and, eventually, Brees himself. More recently, the Saints were implicated in a bounty scandal. The Saints lost draft picks, and head coach Sean Payton was suspended for the 2012 NFL season. Former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was the subject of the scandal, was suspended indefinitely. Williams was re-instated in 2013 and signed with the Tennessee Titans.
- Madden NFL 12 cover athlete Peyton Hillis missed five games in the 2011 NFL season with a hamstring injury and missed one game with strep throat, causing his numbers to decline continuously after the second week. Hillis suffered a re-injury to his hamstring during practice before week nine. In addition, his divisive behavior in the Browns locker room during the season, particularly with regards to his contentious contract negotiations, were the subject of much media attention. Hillis eventually left the Browns, signing a with the Kansas City Chiefs during the off season as a free agent. When asked about his significant decline, Hillis pointed towards the infamous Madden curse as a factor, saying "Things didn't work in my favor this year. There's a few things that happened this year that made me believe in curses. Ain't no doubt about it.". Three weeks into the 2013 NFL Season Hillis was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Since his excellent 2011 season, he played for 3 teams and amassed less than 1,000 yards rushing.
- Madden NFL 13 features Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson on the cover. Johnson was not affected by the Madden Curse, as Johnson broke Jerry Rice's single-season receiving record of 1,848 yards, and many other records as well. He ended the season 36 yards shy of being the first receiver ever to have 2,000 yards receiving. However the Detroit Lions, Johnson's team, finished with only 4 wins and 12 losses. In May 2013, Johnson admitted to playing with broken fingers throughout the season.
When asked about the "Madden Curse", Chris Erb, the EA Sports director of marketing, commented, "I don't know that we believe in the curse. The players don't believe in the curse." To earn the honor of being put on the game cover, a player is usually coming off of a strong year and some regression the following year is to be expected, though many cover athletes had season-ending injuries. The injuries that Madden cover athletes experience could be attributed to the physical nature of football.
Starting with Madden NFL 12 fans have voted to choose the cover athlete. Whether or not the Madden Curse exists, EA believes that many fans voted against their favorite player in hopes of avoiding it. The Madden Curse has become so prominent, that it's even gained the attention of the gambling world, creating odds on how likely an injury will occur to the player appearing on the cover. In December 2010, EA announced their plans on developing a movie based on the Curse, which will be a comedy, and not based on fate-based horror movies like Final Destination. As of June 2013, EA hasn't commented on the status of the Madden Curse movie since the initial announcement.
The Madden Bowl is a single elimination tournament held on the most current edition of Madden NFL. It has been held since 1995 during Super Bowl weekend in the host city and, in the past, participation included NFL players and celebrities. The Madden Bowl's participation has changed over the years from being an event held with athletes, musicians, and celebrities, to become an event where only NFL players who are invited to participate get a chance to play. Participants in the Madden Bowl are free to choose whichever team they like. Winners receive a Madden Bowl trophy and recognition in the upcoming Madden video game.
The 2006 Madden Bowl, held during the weekend of Super Bowl XL in Detroit, Michigan, was televised on ESPN and premiered in April 2006. It is not to be confused with Madden Nation, which was a reality television show that chronicled a cross-country trip to crown the best Madden player in America, which also aired on ESPN.
As of 2011, the Madden Bowl competition utilizes the new Online Team Play feature included in Madden NFL 11. Rather than competing as individuals, players form groups of three to square-off for the trophy.
Madden Bowl winners
- 1995: Reggie Brooks
- 1996: Reggie Brooks
- 1997: Jimmy Spencer
- 1998: Morris Chestnut
- 1999: Ray Mickens
- 2000: Terry Jackson
- 2001: Jacquez Green
- 2002: Jacquez Green
- 2003: Dwight Freeney
- 2004: Dwight Freeney
- 2005: Michael Lewis
- 2006: Alex Smith
- 2007: Alex Smith
- 2008: Willis McGahee
- 2009: Antonio Bryant
- 2010: Maurice Jones-Drew
- 2011: Patrick Willis, Chad Ochocinco, and Maria Menounos
- 2012: Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, and Tim Tebow
Rookie Madden Bowl winners
Annual EA Super Bowl simulation
Since 2004, EA games has run a simulation of the Super Bowl using the latest game in the Madden NFL series and announced the result. The game simulations conducted by EA have correctly predicted eight of the last ten Super Bowl winners. They were incorrect in 2008 and 2011, in which wild card teams won in real life. EA also releases a computer-generated description of the simulated game as if it were a summary of the real Super Bowl. The results of the simulated and actual Super Bowl games are listed below.
- 2004: Patriots 23, Panthers 20 (Actual score: Patriots 32, Panthers 29)
- 2005: Patriots 47, Eagles 31 (Actual score: Patriots 24, Eagles 21)
- 2006: Steelers 24, Seahawks 19 (Actual score: Steelers 21, Seahawks 10)
- 2007: Colts 38, Bears 27 (Actual score: Colts 29, Bears 17)
- 2008: Patriots 38, Giants 30 (Actual score: Giants 17, Patriots 14)
- 2009: Steelers 28, Cardinals 24 (Actual score: Steelers 27, Cardinals 23)
- 2010: Saints 35, Colts 31 (Actual score: Saints 31, Colts 17)
- 2011: Steelers 24, Packers 20 (Actual score: Packers 31, Steelers 25)
- 2012: Giants 27, Patriots 24  (Actual score: Giants 21, Patriots 17)
- 2013: Ravens 27, 49ers 24  (Actual score: Ravens 34, 49ers 31)
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