postheadericon Madden NFL 21: The History of Madden

Hawkins, the CEO of EA, approached American sports legend John Madden and was offered the chance to create a computer video game based on the American football that Madden loved so much. John agreed and so began the journey (literal and metaphorical) that EA and the entire production team embarked on in order to create the sport’s first realistic simulation title.

John Madden is a former NFL player and coach who was inducted into the sport’s hall of fame. His playing career was cut short by a double knee injury that prevented him from making his debut with the Philadelphia Eagles. Almost a decade later he would begin his coaching career with the Oakland Raiders where he would climb positions until he became the team’s general coach in 1969 and would retire 9 years later having won a Super Bowl and lost a couple of finals along the way.

In other words, by the time Hawkins and Ybarra approached him, Madden was a legend who commented for CBS, he was already known as an analyst so targeting someone who was so high was difficult. In fact, it was his third option after Joe Montana and Joe Cap. The first already had a deal with Atari and the second asked for royalties, so Madden was perhaps his last option.

Not only was John Madden going to lend his image for the cover, but he would help with his knowledge and experience for the first installment. His contribution was spectacular as the development progressed along with his comments on what the strategies were like in the field and how they could be represented. For the coach, this was the perfect opportunity to create a tool that would bring the strategies to the general public.

Finally in 1988, after four stages of development, more than double what a normal title development used to take back then, John Madden Football was released for the Apple II. Unlicensed for teams or the league, but with options for weather, injury, customization, and team building and strategy.

EA would not get the NFL license until 1994, and the team’s license until 1995 when we would finally see players on the cover sharing space with the Madden legend. Obviously, the technological advancement brought all kinds of improvements to the game, various teams, advanced strategies (endorsed by Madden), franchise mode, full seasons, practice mode, multiplayer of up to six people, etc. EA games have become a phenomenon and are its third best-selling franchise in its catalog with more than 110 million copies.

Currently, the franchise is run by EA Tiburon, a studio bought by Electronic Arts in 1994 and has provided better facilities every five years. They are currently in Miami and have more than 500 employees, although they have already announced a move to Orlando to still expand the spaces in which their developers can operate.

So basically Madden’s legacy as a franchise not only led EA to make its first hit game and bring it to what it is today (supported by other hits too, of course), but it paved the way for how sports should be and look like, both inside the console and outside of it. There is no sport that has taken things from video games to broadcast TV in the 90s ke FOX did. In fact, the recent VAR for soccer is very similar to the technology used in FIFA.

John Madden recognizes: “It is already much bigger than me (the franchise), when my grandchildren play it they do not associate it with his grandfather, they do not think of me, they only think of playing Madden.”

Madden NFL 21 is on the new generation of consoles (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S), and also on the past generation (PS4 and Xbox One). Therefore, if you are enjoying the game as much as we do, don’t forget you can buy NFL Madden coins on MUTeamGo!

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