Joe Montana Football 16 Microsoft Exclusivity Rumor Doesn’t Add Up

Posted March 3rd, 2015 at 5:15 pm


Joe Montana Football 16 was announced last July simply to make its existence known along with the intent for it to release this coming summer. No information about the game was provided and since then very little has been disseminated. Originally thought to be just a mobile game the developers – or Montana who seems to be running the show – have left the eventual platforms open to speculation.

A post made by a new user, with absolutely no established history, on the Operation Sports forum is creating a bit of a stir. Generally something random like that would be tossed aside as a likely attempt at trolling the readership. However some want to put stock into it because of the effort that evidently went into writing it, and because they’re hopeful for another NFL game, but the details within are sketchy at best. 

Factually, and logically, there are some things that work against the credibility of the story.

The game is called Joe Montana NFL Football 16. This is an NFL game. First-party stipulations that the NFL has always left open & the NFL’s exclusive relationship with Microsoft allows for Microsoft to have an NFL game. Microsoft Studios is the publisher.

This right here could be enough to discredit the entirety of the post. The NFL exclusive license that EA secured in 2005 and renewed multiple times has never allowed for a first-party (Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo) to make a licensed game. That was the case in baseball, where 2K Sports secured a third-party license, but EA Sports had the full exclusive on consoles and PC. The agreement did not include mobile or social gaming, which is why many companies have secured licensing for games on mobile devices and Facebook.

That being said EA stealthily renewed the license again before it was set to expire following Madden NFL 25. The company dodged comment on the status of exclusivity in the agreement which raised some eyebrows. It’s possible the deal EA and the NFL has now is no longer exclusive. I even floated the idea that something could have been in the works back then as it would’ve explained EA’s silence on the matter.

However the way the author of the post states the information, as though it has been an option for Microsoft over the last 10 years and they’re only now taking advantage of the loophole, is entirely inaccurate.

First and foremost, this game will be for XBOX One and PC only. This is why they haven’t mentioned platforms. They’re taking early advantage of the Windows 10 cross-plat tech and the game will be out as part of 10’s 3-month launch cycle in the middle of this year.

Microsoft is deadly serious about gaining ground and winning the console war (doubtful to happen at this point though) and throwing tons of money at incubation and trying to buy new IP that they can turn into big series’ titles is top priority for them right now. They believe this game can be many times bigger than MLB The Show due to the larger NFL fanbase, and because so many XBOX One owners identify as serious NFL fans.

Certainly there are enough fans to potentially support two football titles. The question hasn’t just been about exclusivity however, rather the development costs to build a game essentially from the ground-up. It would take exceptional effort and money to do so, plus the licensing costs, and even then the new game would be fighting for only a segment of the market. It would be a difficult project for any developer and publisher to justify.

Microsoft could definitely use an exclusive like this though, and it would have much greater impact than baseball, where the majority who are interested (and that’s just a fraction of those who buy NBA, NFL, or FIFA) have already purchased a PS4. A new NFL game would become a selling point to those trying to decide between the Xbox One and PS4, and those already with a PS4 who previously didn’t see a reason to have both. I would have no idea how the game would line up with Windows 10’s release given that there’s no date attached to it yet besides “late 2015” which wouldn’t seem to line up with a game planned for the summer.

The game was demoed and it went well. Actually, “well” is an understatement. People went crazy. NDA’s were and still are in place for them. That’s why you haven’t heard anyone saying anything, but a lot of people are having a very hard time because what they seen was unbelievable and it’s been impossible to go back to Madden or even take Madden seriously after that. It’s like, how you felt when you had an NES and you saw Sega Genesis for the first time. The step up in quality is THAT big.

The graphics, animations and AI are all obscenely good and modern. It looks like a game that was built for this new generation, not just a port over from last generation with a ton of sloppy tweaks. The animations are easily the most crisp of any sports game ever made. Comparing the animations to Madden, it’s going make Madden look like a PS1 game by comparison. This is going to be embarrassing for EA Tiburon, like The Show Vs MLB 2K and NBA 2K vs NBA Live embarrassing.

This is some extreme hyperbole, and reads as though this person has a rooting interest either in the upcoming game in some capacity or in creating a stir in a trolling attempt. It’d be great if it were true, but “people going crazy”, “what was seen was unbelievable”, “impossible to go back to Madden…or take it seriously”, “most crisp sports game ever made”, Madden will “look like a PS1 game by comparison”, and “embarrassing for EA” – these statements do nothing to make the poster seem like a reliable source. It sounds just like how EA employees tried selling the “next-gen” version of Madden 06 actually and everyone knows how that game turned out.

Expect Joe Montana NFL Football 16 out in Mid-late July.

This is another major problem with the post, that which relates the the prospective release date. The idea that the NFL would allow another licensed product to release 4-6 weeks before Madden is just not believable. That the NFL, who has been in a tight relationship with EA for so long, and still works closely with them while accepting hundreds of millions of dollars from them, would allow a competitor to come in and undercut their sales is simply not a realistic scenario.

There’s a reason why the contracts in sports where there are competing titles specify restrictions on release dates. For example, MLB games can not go out before the first Tuesday in March, while NBA games can’t release prior to the first Tuesday in October. Otherwise the fighting to be the first out of the gate would never end. An unlicensed game, like All-Pro Football 2K8, has the freedom to release whenever the publisher would desire.

There’s reason to be intrigued by what’s going on with Joe Montana Football 16. However it would not be wise to get invested in the project as though it will be some savior to those who have been dissatisfied with Madden. Everyone will root for more sports games and the competition that would create but until there are some facts at hand, not just rumors with questionable credibility and motive, it’s best not to get hopes up too high.