Yahoo – For the first time in over 15 years, “Madden” is getting some competition in the world of football video games.
The NFL revealed on Tuesday morning that it’s ending its years-long exclusivity deal with Electronic Arts on football games. “Madden” will continue to be produced in partnership with the NFL, but the NFL is also working with 2K Sports — the company behind the smash-hit “NBA 2K” franchise.
That new arrangement encompasses a “multi-year” deal that includes “multiple future video games” — the first of which is expected to arrive next year, in 2021.
The worst thing that ever happened to Madden was the exclusivity deal EA signed with the NFL because it removed any real competition. Madden was always the best football game on the block, but only because it actually had to be. 2K closed the gap when I was in high school and a ton of people still argue that NFL 2K5 was the best, albeit 2K’s last, football game ever made.
Thats not just me looking back fondly on the PS2 days either. NFL 2K5 got a 9.2/10 on GameSpot, a 9.4/10 on IGN, and a 92% on Metacritic, which bested Madden reviews in two out of three as Madden 05 actually got a 9.5 from IGN. Still pretty damn good for a game that just ended up getting shelved a few months later.
So once 2K was no longer there to keep pushing Madden, things got a little stagnant. Madden was always introducing new features with every version of the game, some more beloved than others (I actually enjoyed the Vision Cone), but just look at this run of iconic additions.
- Madden 99 – Franchise Mode introduced
- Madden 03 – Online head to head play
- Madden 04 – Vick God Mode/Playmaker Control/Owner Mode/Mini Camp
- Madden 05 – Hit Stick
- Madden 06 – QB Vision Cone/Superstar Mode
- Madden 07 – Truck Stick
Madden was always trying things out because they had to keep the game fresh. Once any shred of competition was removed, Madden was able to just update the graphics and the rosters each year and sell you the same old shit for $59.99 every August. Madden 07 (released in 2006) was the last year any substantial feature was added to the game in my opinion and that was FOURTEEN YEARS AGO.
I would love for these two giants to go head to head like the good old days, but it seems like 2K may try and go in a slightly different direction.
Notably, 2K says the games it’s creating are “non-simulation football game experiences” described as “fun, approachable and social experiences.”…EA issued the following statement in response to Tuesday’s announcement: “EA Sports is the exclusive publisher of NFL simulation games, and our partnership with the NFL and NFLPA remains unchanged. Our agreements have always allowed for non-exclusive development of non-simulation games on various platforms.
Whatever the hell that means, your guess is as good as mine. It seems like, through 2021 at least, 2K won’t be able to create a true “simulation game” so we may not get a direct competitor to Madden right out of the gates. Perhaps something thats officially licensed by the NFL, but maybe a little…different? Something a little more…arcade style. Something like…
Now we’re talking!
But so help me god if 2K tries to pass off some card based garbage mobile game. Just give us something that will make the folks at EA a little nervous so we start getting legitimately innovative games once again.