When Madden Made Montana

John Madden Football (Sega Genesis)
I’m very excited for football season to be in full swing, despite the injuries to Darrelle Revis and Ray Lewis. I thought I’d revisit a story I wrote for the sport section in GMR Magazine, Athletic Support. It was a sidebar to my Madden Retrospective. I’m pretty sure it’s still not widely known, even with Madden Football being as popular as ever. Big thanks to Rannie Yoo for her invaluable help with the story.

Madden = Montana?
Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins is a shrewd businessman, but he may have pulled the most amazing feat in the gaming industry in 1990. While working on the first Madden for the Sega Genesis, Sega came to Hawkins with a problem. They too were working on a football title, Joe Montana Football, but things weren’t going as well as they had hoped. What they wanted from Trip was to abandon Madden, and use all his work for the Joe Montana title.

Rather than scrapping Madden in favor of Sega’s Montana, Hawkins had a proposal: He and his team would use Madden’s technology, tweak it a bunch, and make it into a different enough game that Sega could sell as Joe Montana. All the while, EA would still put out Madden. Sega agreed.

In actuality, much of what made Madden great was scaled down for Montana, though Sega still got a pretty good game out of the deal. Both titles were in the top 5 of sales for that year, and few gamers ever knew they were basically developed by the same people.

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