In 1984, John Madden, former NFL coach and commentator, met with Trip Hawkins and Joe Ybarra, the founder of Electronic Arts (EA) and his right-hand-man,�?o discuss the possibility of creating a football video game. Hawkins and Ybarra, interested in making such a game, wanted to apply Madden?s expertise from both on and off the field. Madden agreed to participate, but only if the gameplay was as realistic as possible, producing a huge technical challenge to include 22 on-screen athletes running real plays. EA released the first game, John Madden Football, for the Apple II home computer in 1988. However, the Apple II did not possess the sophisticated memory and sound, pixel quality, or number of joystick ports for the game that Hawkins envisioned. Although the gaming community considered the 1988 release a modest commercial success and EA felt that it had adequately established itself in the home computer market, the real victory came in 1990 when EA developed a second version, this time for the Sega Genesis. Game consoles were an entirely different domain from personal computers such as the Apple II. Although Nintendo controlled the console market at the time, EA began negotiations with Sega, Nintendo?s Japanese competitor, whose Genesis system had the graphics, processing speed, and controls that made it ideal for a sports game. This new Madden transformed the industry, inspiring the developers to publish a fresh edition annually to generate ongoing profits for both EA and Sega. In 1993, EA re-titled the series as Madden NFL, after acquiring the rights to use official NFL teams and players. In 2004, EA paid a reported $300 million to sign an exclusive contract with the National Football League for rights to teams and players that extended until 2013. This effectively eliminated other NFL-based game competition, such as the NFL 2K series developed by Visual Concepts.
When it comes to gameplay, Madden developers consider authenticity paramount. Each play comes from actual NFL coaching film and receives approval from the NFL before integration into the game. Minute changes in players? gear are tracked, voice commentary within the game simulates a real TV broadcast, and accurate player statistics receive continual updates. In fact, since 2004, EA has run Super Bowl simulations using the latest Madden NFL, announcing the results prior to the actual game and accurately predicting eight Super Bowl winners over the course of ten years. Furthermore, appearing on the cover of a Madden game has become something of a status symbol. John Madden stopped appearing on the covers in 2000, and Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George became the first individual player featured in 2001. In 2003, the Pro Football Hall of Fame opened a Madden NFL exhibit, acknowledging the series? contribution to the larger world of the sport. Madden games have appeared on multiple platforms, from PCs and handhelds to home consoles such as the PlayStation and Xbox. Madden NFL 13 became the first game in the series to have Kinect support, and therefore the ability to recognize voice commands. Madden evolved into a multi-billion dollar franchise thanks to games that remain entertaining, authentic, and yet still strategy-based, and which appeal to players across a wide range of ages and social demographics.