A Nation’s Obsession Returns

By Lloyd Vance
Updated: August 14, 2008

PHILADELPHIA — At the stroke 12:00 AM (EST) on Tuesday August 12th a feeding frenzy like no other seen occurred as people of all different ages, sexes, races, and you name it, lined up not to get food or to get the new iPhone, but to seize their copy of the latest release of their prized game John Madden football. Madden NFL ’09 debuted for gaming systems Xbox 360, Xbox, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2 and Wii to a mob scene.

Not even 20 years could dampen the spirits of loyal gamers that have made Madden America’s most popular video game by far. Worldwide incredibly tens of thousands passed up sleep because they needed to have their copy.

I could hardly believe my eyes as grown men were seen clutching their copy of Madden NFL ’09 and gleefully looking for their cell phones to call out sick from work.

Stores are now even having tournaments, food, prizes, and other incentives for the sleep deprived Madden players. The game, which started as a small venture by former Raiders Head Coach and Commentator Hall of Famer John Madden and a small company called Electronic Arts in 1989, has grown into a global obsession.

EA sold 7.4 million copies in North America in 2006, including 2 million in the first week. The numbers don’t lie about the overwhelming popularity of the game as overall it has sold more than 60 million copies and generated over $2 billion in retail sales in it’s first 17 years on the market.

Those numbers are staggering when you factor in that copies of Madden sell retail for $30 to $60, depending on the game system. The game has its own money driven worldwide tournament called the “Madden Challenge” and is played every where from NFL Locker rooms to Church Basements to College Dormitories and of course people’s homes.

Madden even has its own community where fans are connected by the internet via DSL lines. The funny thing about the game John Madden football is that it is enjoyed by a truly eclectic group of fans with many of them not being “big” NFL fans or having any idea that John Madden was first a great head coach in the NFL compiling a record of 112-39-7 (Overall) including a victory in Super Bowl XI in 1976, before becoming the face of the game.

I have to admit that I am a big fan of the game and I owned several versions of the game for quite awhile going back to my Sega Genesis days, but don’t think I wasn’t crazy enough to wait in a five-hour line for this year’s copy. I can bide with my 2007 dated copy, because I really don’t have enough time to play that often anymore.

But even though I don’t have the time, I have always loved Madden due to the fact it brings people together around NFL football and the realism of the game is bar none (you are GM, Head Coach, Quarterback, etc). Growing up in Philly, Madden Football was the game of choice for my brother, our friends, and myself.

We spent countless hours playing, fighting, and of course trash talking over the “best game” ever in our opinion. We loved the chance to become our heroes Randall Cunningham, Emmitt Smith, Reggie White, Christian Okoye and others during the moments that we played the game.

With the release of Madden ’09, now a new generation of fans will have the chance to emulate their players of choice.

Madden NFL ’09 features an innovative Adaptive Difficulty Engine (Tailors the game to match your playing style), All-new virtual Training Center (Instantly improve your game with these drills), EA Sports BackTrack (Incorporate feedback on the fly allowing you to learn from your mistake), a new broadcast presentation, online leagues and more than 85 new features and enhancements, making it the most authentic and adaptable game in sports video game history.

This year’s cover player is “Mr. Controversy” himself, newly minted New York Jets quarterback Brett “the Jet” Favre – the legendary quarterback is featured in a Green Packers uniform, but players can download the new cover at EASports.com.

The 17-year veteran will try to avoid the “Madden Jinx” that has claimed Eddie George, Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb, Marshall Faulk, and Shaun Alexander in recent years.

So to all Madden players worldwide I say, “Let the games and the trash talking begin”.

Happy Maddenoliday everyone!!

NOTE: To learn more on Madden NFL 09 listen to an interview with Madden lead producer Ryan Ferwerda at our friend site EMQB.com