On Thursday, EA and the NFL announced a renewal of their exclusive licensing agreement, meaning football video games will continue to suck for another undisclosed length of years. Madden veterans remember when this deal was first announced in 2004, a sad turning point for the industry.
The prior year, 2K Sports released NFL 2K5 for only $20 a month before Madden came out. The game was pretty sick, featuring a new ‘first person football’ mode, awesome celebrations (that came with a risk of fumbling into the end zone), and Boomer highlights. The pass defense AI was trash however, so Madden’s Ray Lewis title with a ton of defense innovations kept them holding on to king status.
2K5 was still legit though, so football gamers were optimistic that the competition would breed great products for years to come. That all died with the exclusive rights announcements and Madden devs have been mailing it in since. Sad times.
That being said, I will give EA credit for trying a little at the start for Madden 06. They introduced a very controversial ‘QB Vision’ feature that everyone hated, but it was a legitimately good idea. Playing zone defense starts with looking at a QB’s eyes, and this was a way to do that in a video game. After all the Vick cheese that happened the year before, there needed to be a way to level the playing field between pocket passers and scramblers.
Even though you could turn it off easily, the Madden community was beyond outraged and the message was sent to never again disrupt their comfort zone. At the point, there was no good reason to mess with further innovations and the game sucked forever from then on. (Maybe it got better, but I’ve had no reason to find out)
Speaking of said Vick cheese from the 05 game, I always found it hilarious back then to watch Madden Bowl matches consisting of two scrambling quarterbacks (mostly just Vick) and a rotation of three glitchy plays being called the entire game. That’s why it gave me great joy to learn that this year’s Madden champion won without attempting a single pass. The rosters were set via salary cap drafts, and he just used a punter for a QB and o-linemen for WRs and ran the ball every play. Amazing! What a joke e-sports are. It’s getting bigger and all yeah yeah, but I doubt it ever peaks to levels of say… current day women’s soccer.
Also, one very important but sad Madden note is that Charles Rogers died last November. RIP in peace to a legend. It doesn’t matter what he accomplished on the field; we should be forever grateful for his performance in the best Madden commercial of all time…