In the world of competitive gaming, the Madden NFL series combines the best of eSports and traditional sports. Legendary football coach and sports commentator John Madden first signed on with the recently founded game development firm Electronic Arts to back a football simulation video game in 1984.
From the get-go, Madden insisted on realism in the game. In a 1984 meeting on an Amtrak train with EA founder Trip Hawkins, Madden rejected the proposal for a seven-on-seven version of the game. If he was going to put his name on the game, the field needed to have 22 players, just like regulation NFL games.
It took until 1988 to complete a working game that met Madden’s standards. That year, the first version of Madden NFL for the Apple II computer hit the shelves. Developers’ initial concerns that having 11 players on each team was more than current computer processing could handle were confirmed, though—the first version of Madden NFL offered only limited features and suffered from slow performance.
Shortly after Madden became available, Sega contracted EA to create a version of Madden for their new platform, Genesis. EA produced Joe Montana Football for the Genesis, a game derived from the same basic design of Madden but with less realistic graphics and less commitment to following the actual NFL playbook.
EA eventually signed the rights to Montana off to another developer to focus on Madden. For much of the next 15 years, Madden faced stiff competition from both Joe Montana Football and Sony’s NFL Gameday.
The tide started to turn in Madden’s favor in the late 1990s with the rise of 32-bit games that were better equipped to handle the complexity of the game’s graphics. Madden NFL ’96 was the first version of the game to be available for the PlayStation, and in 1999 the game debuted its wildly popular Franchise Mode.
In the early 2000s, Madden began to consistently outcompete other football simulation video games on the market and became popular with actual NFL players.
Since 1995, EA has sponsored a “Madden Bowl” for the NFL’s top Madden players. This single-elimination tournament is held over Super Bowl weekend in that year’s host city.
Since 2011, the game’s online team player feature has allowed groups of three to compete together. For those who aren’t pro football players, competitive Madden began in underground rings and house-rules cash games but quickly became legitimized by both professional sports and the video game industry.
Madden Nation, which featured competitive Madden players competing in tournaments around the country, ran on ESPN from 2005 to 2008. EA also hosts a number of official Madden NFL tournaments.
Understanding Madden NFL’s General Gameplay and Competitive Ruleset
Thanks to John Madden’s commitment to realism, Madden NFL follows the same rules as regulation NFL football: offensive players move the ball down the field using running and passing plays while the other team’s defense tries to prevent them.
The offense has four downs to run the ball 10 yards before possession passes over to the other ream. A touchdown (successfully running the ball into the other team’s endzone) is worth six points, a field goal is worth three points, and a safety is worth two points.
If it is your first time playing Madden NFL and you are unfamiliar with rules of football and the typical covers for each position, the Skill Trainer mode is a good way to learn both the rules of the video game and the rules of NFL football.
Many non-American gamers from all over the world have learned the rules of American football and become NFL fans from playing Madden.
All Madden NFL games come with several different playable modes. Arcade mode is an ideal mode for beginners as it provides players with more buffs.
It offers a less realistic experience, but it allows players to execute some spectacular moves. If you’re looking for an experience more like playing real NFL football, switch the game into Competitive mode.
Fortunately, you can toggle between difficulty with either Competitive Rookie mode or Competitive Pro mode. In addition to adjusting the game’s difficulty, some modes offer you different ways to flavor your playing experience.
Madden NFL’s Franchise Mode lets you manage multiple teams across multiple seasons. In Ultimate Team Mode, you can collect different cards by completing challenges or trading with other teams to build the best roster of players.
As the player in Madden NFL, you alone control every aspect of each team. This means you decide which players are on the field.
Once the game begins, you can control one player at a time. The players you are not controlling will be piloted by AI.
While the game seems to replicate the experience of real NFL football as closely as possible, time limits have been shortened to make the game more fast-paced and interesting.
Understanding the Madden NFL Championship Series
Have you ever wondered what goes into setting up a Madden competitive league or how to compete in the Madden NFL tournament? Here are a few details as to how EA works to operate Madden NFL as competitive eSport.
EA, the developers of Madden NFL sponsor multiple competitive Madden brackets, one of the largest being the Madden NFL Championship Series. To enter, participants must be 16 years of age or older and have a valid EA account connected to a supported gaming console and a copy of Madden.
Players between the ages of 16 and 18 will also need their parent or guardian’s consent. To compete, players must first accept Official and Event Rules.
Anyone eligible can register to compete in the championship series online, but only certain players may be invited to participate in live, in-person tournaments.
Each registered player competes on behalf of a one of 32 official Madden NFL clubs. Each club will track its current leader board on the official Madden Championship website.
At the end of the season, the top 16 players on each platform (either PC or gaming console) will compete in double-elimination brackets for club champion on their platform. The winners on each platform will then face off to determine the club’s champion in a single-round elimination game.
Club champions are then entered into the Live Championship Event, where they compete in five rounds of single-elimination games for up to $150,000 in cash prizes and the title of champion. Including prizes for runners-up, EA gives out $750,000 worth of prizes to participants.
Whether you’re a long-time competitive Madden NFL player or you’re new to eSports, I hope you enjoyed learning more about competitive Madden and how EA runs competitions. Share your tips for competitive Madden NFL in the comments!