Gripe all you want about Madden NFL 08 being the only video game released this year with the current NFL roster. It doesn’t matter. As certain as the sun rising from the east and setting in the west is the fact that when Madden ’08 hits the store shelves today, it will instantly rise to become one of the year’s top sellers. This year’s version will be available on 10 different gaming systems and will range in price from about $30 to $60.
There are other football games on the market, such as 2K Sports All Pro Football 2K8, but they are forced to use depictions of historical NFL figures such as Jerry Rice and John Madden, and made-up team names instead of current trademarks. EA signed an exclusivity deal with the NFL in 2005.
Each year, EA tries to revolve the promotion of the game around a central theme. An example in the past was a “hit stick” used to add emphasis on defense. This time, the theme is a “read and react” feature that utilizes an “icon system” within the game to allow users to immediately identify the strength qualities of each player. These icons are on the field, so if you’re a savvy player, you can identify mismatches on the field instantly and be able to react accordingly.
Individually, some of the versions will have features unique to each system. The Nintendo DS version will have Paper Football, a game popularized by school children that features a paper triangle pushed back and forth on a school desk. The Nintendo Wii has a family feature that allows for a parent to use simplified controls when playing an avid child gamer.
One of the quirky new features of the game on many of the versions takes advantage of a deal EA struck with jewelry giant Josten. Players will achieve certain skill levels in the game that will unlock designs to create a championship ring, and will be given a code in which they can subsequently send to Jostens’ Web site. Jostens will then make and sell the ring with any of the 32 NFL team logos for between $149 to $495.