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Madden Franchise:
Celebrating its 10-Year Anniversary in 1999

The Birth of Madden Football
Back in 1986, the CEO of Electronic Arts (EA) met with John Madden as he was traveling on a train en route to broadcast a NFL game. Of course Madden does not fly and the Madden cruiser had yet to be born. So on the train the CEO and various EA programmers spoke to Madden about collaborating on the first PC football game. Madden was very interested and liked the ideas he was hearing. When it was suggested by EA though that the game would feature two teams of seven players, Madden wouldn't hear of it. "If it's not 11 on 11, it's not real football," Madden said. "I will not put my name on it if it's not real."

And at that historic moment the direction for the Madden franchise was set. Even though it sent EA back to the drawing board for another two years before they could perfect a game that had 22 players, that's what EA did. Each and every year that Madden mandate has motivated the EA team to produce the most realistic and authentic football game possible.

Madden is known as the best there is at communicating what is happening on a football field. During his broadcasts each Sunday during the NFL season he becomes a teacher. As a Super Bowl winning coach he knows the X's and O's, but what sets him apart is he can communicate advanced football theory in easy to understand language. EA wanted to tap into that knowledge so that the video game would be extremely deep in gameplay and artificial intelligence, yet easy and fun to play.

History of Madden Football
The first Madden Football game ever made was called "John Madden Football" and it ran on the Apple II computer. It shipped in 1989 and was an instant success. Since that time EA has made the game available on numerous other gaming platforms including an assortment of Apple computers and PCs, the Commodore 64, Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, Amiga, 3DO Multiplayer, Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and Nintendo 64.

Still the King
EA SPORTS'™ John Madden Football™ series has sold more than 13 million units over the lifetime of the franchise.

Success brings increased competition though, and the market has become crowded. Even in a highly competitive field though Madden reigned supreme last year. According to the TRSTS Video Game Report published by the NPD group, Madden NFL 99 was the number one selling PlayStation® sports video game in 1998 in North America. The NPD group reports that Madden NFL 99 on the PlayStation sold 1,128,366 units in 1998. That number is over 164,000 more than its closest competitor in the sports category.

Madden NFL 99 and other earlier versions of Madden for the PC also dominated the PC football category in 1998. According to the market research firm PC Data, the Madden franchise of PC football games accounted for 57% of the PC football market in 1998. The next closest competitor registered only 7.3% of unit sales.

Madden Bowl
For the past five years at the Super Bowl the John Madden video game tournament, or "Madden Bowl," has been held to crown a champion among the players. The tournament helps determine who has ultimate bragging rights in the NFL.

"There are a lot of guys in the league who are die-hard video game players," said 1999 Madden Bowl winner, Ray Mickens of the New York Jets. "We all play in the locker room during training camp and in hotel rooms when we travel during the season, and the competition is intense. It's all practice for the Madden Bowl though, because that is the one tournament where you have to put up or shut up."

The Competitive Standard with Video Football Gamers
"For the last seven years I've been putting on video football tournaments up and down the West Coast," said Jeff Strong, Founder, West Coast Tournaments. "From the very beginning the game that kids have requested is John Madden Football, so that's the game we've used in the tournaments. They say it is the most realistic and the most fun. That's all I need to hear."

"We check with the kids from the various youth groups that we stage tournaments with every year to make sure we are using the game that is most hip," said Dave and Margaret Hammond, Founders, National Electronic Football Challenge. "We want our tournaments to be a big hit with the kids so its important that we continuously check with them to make sure they are getting what they want. Every year it's been Madden Football. It's always been, and still remains, the game these kids pull out when they want to match up with their friends."

Future of Madden Football
"The most important thing to me is that we need to keep pushing the limits of what is possible in a video game," said Madden. "The minute we stop innovating and working hard we'll stop being the leader. That's the way it is in the NFL and that's the way it is in video games. First of all we have to always stay current with the game so that it reflects what is actually happening in the NFL. When some teams were using the run-and-shoot we made sure we had it in the game, but as soon as it fell out of favor we yanked it quick. As playbooks change, new stadiums get built, teams move and player personnel change, we have to have that in the game. We always have been the best in terms of providing that level of detail and it's important to me that we continue in that direction."

"From a technology standpoint the future looks incredible for the game," said Executive in Charge of Production, John Schappert. "As we enter the next generation of console video game systems with 128 bits of processing power, and as PC CPUs keep getting more and more advanced, the possibilities are endless in terms of what we can do from a graphical and gameplay standpoint. We've been using motion capture technology for a number of years and that has really improved the look of the game. This year we captured the moves of Jamal Anderson from the Falcons, and Terrell Owens from the 49'ers. We'll continue to bring more advanced physics into the game. Each year the game has reached new levels of realism, and new technology will allow us to continue to blur the gap between the game and reality. We look forward to utilizing all the technological advancements the new systems have to offer to create the best football game on the market, just as we have for the past decade."

The very first Madden. (1989)



Madden 1997


Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Related Link: Madden Mania

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