I love football, and I used to love football games, but I’ve become so disgusted with the lack of choice and lack of innovation in the genre that I’ve basically given up. I haven’t played a Madden game in years now, and I don’t feel like I’ve missed anything. This debate club is about which franchise should go away and die, and I can’t think of a better one than Madden Football.
It seems like a not-so-gamey choice, right? I mean, it’s a sports game, which has always been somewhat of a fringe genre in gaming anyway. Sure, sports games are games, but they’re kind of separate from the typical, nerdy video game fare that most think of when the term video game is brought up. Perhaps a more mainstream choice would have been Call of Duty or The Sims or World of Warcraft. Those franchises all tend to polarize people in a more traditional video game way.
The thing that is so incredibly frustrating about the Madden franchise is that unlike any of the franchises listed above, Madden has a legitimate monopoly over an entire genre of games. There are other MMOs, other life simulators, and certainly other first person shooters, but there is only one choice when it comes to an NFL licensed football game. Before you jump down my case for that being the same in other sports, let me point to two things. First, this is simply opinion. Second, football is by far the most popular sport in the United States. I’m sure that Madden outsells virtually any sports game here in the states (I’m sure FIFA destroys it internationally though).
To make matters worse, the 2K football series was pretty great. Everyone knew it was pretty great. It was pushing the football simulator in the right direction by forcing EA to up it’s own game and deliver a consistently quality product. So what did EA do? Instead of making a great football game every year, they just threw an ass load of money at the NFL for the exclusive rights to the brand. A shrewd business move, sure. What’s best for gamers, of course not.
So now those who are fans of NFL football games are stuck with one choice. I can’t think of any other genre so strangled. If you don’t like Call of Duty there is Halo, Planetside, Titanfall, Borderlands, Counter-Strike, et. Al. I mean the list of FPS choices literally goes on and on and on. The same for MMOs, for RPGs, for strategy games and racing games; it’s only football that is like this. It’s completely ridiculous to me that this system exists. And, for full disclosure, if there were suddenly 10 choices for football games this year, I might not buy any of them, I might just be over the whole football game thing. But regardless of my personal feelings on the genre, there are many people who love those games, and who would love to have more choice than what EA alone provides.