The NFL has more control over ‘Madden’ than you probably realized

Madden_NFL_LogoEA Sports, the developer of ‘Madden’ games for the past 25 years, is famous for it’s catchy, straightforward company catchphrase: If It’s In The Game, It’s In The Game.

Seems like, with the ‘Madden NFL’ series, that’s not even close to being the case.

While it’s no surprise that the NFL is very protective of its brand, it is apparent that the league will pull out all stops to keep it’s image squeaky clean.

Sports Illustrated’s “Extra Mustard” section took a look today at eight features that the NFL has prevented or eliminated from the extremely popular ‘Madden NFL’ series. Some of the features date back to the days of the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo.

Ambulances, player celebrations and total team customization were all victims of the NFL’s tight leash. Even realistic things like contact between players and photographers on the sidelines and dynamic stadium attendance had to be left on the cutting room floor.

This is all amplified by the fact that the NFL, NFL Players Association and EA Sports have an exclusive agreement, preventing any other video game maker from developing a game with any of the league’s protected assets (meaning logos, players’ likenesses, etc.). These assets are what drive sales.

Several companies have tried their hands at making non-NFL games; 2K Sports’ ‘All-Pro Football 2K8’ and Midway’s ‘Blitz: The League’ series come to mind. But none had the staying power or sales figures that ‘Madden’ manages year in and year out.

With the NFL in total control of EA’s cash cow, what ends up in the game is only there because the league allows it.

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