02:05 PM - July 30, 2013 by MMChrisS
Trip Hawkins, EA President in 1984, had a plan.
In 1984 and in the rising world of video games, Hawkins was after obtaining John Madden's name on a new football game from EA which was going to feature football with a lot of passing and around six or seven players on each side of the ball. It seemed simple enough and by meeting with Madden in a train car -- the conversation was going to be a long one.
However, John Madden was insistent, he wasn't going to put his name on a game which did not feature 11 players on each side of the ball. This presented Hawkins and EA with a problem: that type of a game was very technically advanced at the time and there was no guarantee it could be made.
Hawkins pleaded with Madden that the technology couldn't exist yet, but Madden continued to insist he wasn't budging on this key piece of the deal. The game had to have 11 players, no matter how tough it was to make.
To Hawkins, this was almost certainly not the meeting he anticipated.
Madden's vision for the game was of an educational experience for fans. Eventually, both sides agreed to bring a game featuring 11 players on each side of the football to market.
The original Madden took three years to complete, which was quite a long development cycle in the 80s for a video game. The first game featuring the Madden name was finally released in 1988 as John Madden Football on Apple II computers, it featured 11-man football and several other important gameplay features which helped establish the series: fatigue, injuries, large (for the time) playbooks, adjustable quarter lengths and even a play editor.
However, EA's first go of John Madden Football was incomplete in so many other ways: there was no season mode, no real teams, no real players. However, the game sold well enough to garner a sequel, which itself sold well enough to garner another sequel.
Now, twenty-five years later, through several editions and plenty of controversy, the Madden NFL series has sold over 100 million copies and become one of the biggest names in video games and entertainment on the planet.
Not bad for a conversation and dream shared on a train car.
Over the next 25 days, OS staff members and readers will be sharing our favorite stories of Madden NFL football over the last 25 years of Madden. If you are interested in submitting an essay to be featured on the frontpage, you can submit your favorite Madden story to editor Chris Sanner at [email protected]. Please keep the length under 400 words!