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.

  • newtonfb

    I have a PS4 but I would buy an xb1 day one if JMF 16 was released and looked good.

    • Keith.

      Looking more and more like this is going to happen. So excited that we may be playing a new NFL game this summer — can’t frickin’ wait.

      “He said they recently worked on horror film Grave Shivers, which has been nominated for an award in the US, and are working on a big name American Football game as well as finding time to work on their own adventure game.”

      “Project Title: Project M
      Studios Previous Work:
      Forza Horizon 2
      Ryse: Son of Rome
      Forza Horizon
      Preference to applicants with:
      • Console experience, especially next-generation systems
      • Expertise in OpenGL ES, DirectX 11, console graphics APIs

      Talent Required:Technical Artist
      • Passionate about working with developers to create quality-focused content to push the limits of the engine.”

      • Mark

        Thx Keith! I so want this! I’ve browsed this guy T.J. Laurman’s Twitter, and he’s a sports FANATIC. Doesn’t make his claims true, but for me it validates what he enjoys, and thus why he couldn’t hold back on the info. But here’s where I have a problem believing this 100%……..why in the heck would Microsoft release this game having only announced it ONE month in advance!? Makes little sense marketing wise.

        • GetGwap247

          Maybe to go hand and hand with windows 10

        • HardRockZombie

          I think where we are with games being announced years before completion, announcing a game that gets people excited and release it within a month or two would create a lot of marketing sense

      • Mark

        Thx for the link Keith!

  • OnQore

    Why couldn’t the release date of mid-July be believable?! NFL 2K5 was iniatlly released July 20th while Madden 2005 was set to release August 4th. Maybe this means that Madden 16 would get an earlier release too?!

    • There were no release date stipulations at that time. Something that all leagues now have corrected. Besides the price point, which irked the NFL more than anything, the early release was another thing they they had a problem with.

      • Iown You

        Whether MisterFootballSF’s claims are all accurate or not, there is certainly evidence, not proof, but evidence that seems plausible to at least consider that the man’s post may have some validity to it. Dissecting his post is a start, but it has to go further. You have to look deeper and consider the material evidence that actually exists. Again, this is evidence, not proof.

        Here we go:

        2K involvement claim evidence #1 = Joe Montana re-tweeting a JMF 16 promo pic with the 2K logo on it. Joe never responds to anything from people he doesn’t know, and he’s very careful about what he tweets and re-tweets, but he decided to just randomly re-tweet THIS from a person he doesn’t know???

        It would be both stupid and unprofessional to re-tweet the promo pic of your product with a logo of a company you don’t work with. Joe Montana has never been known to do anything stupid or unprofessional in public. He’s much smarter than that.

        2K involvement claim evidence #2 = would anyone consider it customary to post a picture of a game from another company you don’t work with, with so much praise, calling it a “Daily Devotional? Could you imagine EA’s NBA Live staff posting a pic of a running NBA 2K and calling it their “Daily Devotional”? Could you ever have imagined 2K posting a pic and praising MLB The Show and calling it their “Daily Devotional? I can’t.

        NFL game claim evidence #1 = artist Joseph Harford put up postings of models he was working on for Joe Montana Football, but what he said about it is what’s big. His text read, and I quote: “Working on a Joe Montana character for an NFL game. I will post the progress here so far.”

        NFL game claim evidence #2 = Now, we know he’s working on JMF. He already in #1 claims to be working on an NFL game. Now we see him working on an NFL stadium as he says: “Working on an NFL Stadium Environment in UE4.”

        What? A professional designer with AAA credits is just working on an NFL stadium for the hell of it for a hobby? All while he’s working on a supposed unlicensed football game? Does that make any sense?

        NFL game claim evidence #3 = In the very job posting for JMF, this picture of an NFL stadium was posted:

        PC claim evidence #1 and 2K involvement claim evidence #3 = Damon has plenty of experience with PR. He knows the principle that if your company is not doing business on a specific platform, you either A. Say the game is not coming for it or B. You never talk about how strong a market there is for your game on that platform.

        Instead, Damon said the following: “We do feel that PC sports market has been underserved. Awesome that NBA2k is there.”

        ^^^ Notice two things there, 1. He acknowledged that the market for his game is viable on PC. If he weren’t serving PC, he would be breaking rule B.

        2. He mentioned NBA 2K. A 2K game. Why? No one was even talking about a 2K game in that conversation… why does he keep bringing up 2K? He’s done that a few times now. Hmmmmm…

        PC claim evidence #2 = Someone asked Damon if this were a PC-only game, and Damon responded: “can confirm it’s not PC only.”

        Granted, he didn’t say it was definitely coming to PC, but he also didn’t deny that it was like he had denied other things that weren’t, such as:

        Claim that they were working with EA denied: “100% certain we aren’t working with EA.”

        2K Involvement claim evidence #4: When Damon was asked if he was working with 2K he responded: “that is certainly uncertain.”

        Ask yourself, why would he clearly deny working with EA, but not deny working with 2K?

        Microsoft involvement claim evidence: Joseph Harford is a graphic designer on Joe Montana Football. He has a background with Microsoft Studios, in fact on some of his art you see the Microsoft Studios wordmark branding logo. Harford worked on graphics for various games, including Ryse Son of Rome.

        ^^^ Considering the fact that Ryse has been argued as the best looking game ever made, and considering that the Unreal Engine 4 is (as all Unreal Engine versions are known) known for the ability to process very high levels of details and strong animation fidelity that many other engines cannot compete with, there are some dots that can be connected to MisterFootballSF’s claims about graphics and animation quality in Joe Montana Football. JMF team has certainly pulled out the big guns in that department.

        4 Final Points:

        1. About the claims of it being exclusive to XBOX One and the rest of the stuff dealing with the NFL deal; my stance on that has always been that unless the NFL states it in writing or I’ve actually seen the contract myself, I can’t say for sure what the deal stipulates exactly to the letter. I’ve always heard people say the NFL was upset about the 2K5 price, but I’ve never seen the NFL say a word about it, plus I have no way of knowing whether 2K was paying the NFL a lump sum per year or paying royalties only, or both. So if there is or isn’t flexibility in the deal to the degree that would allow for what MisterFootballSF has mentioned, it has to be deemed to remaining inconclusive as we have no public evidence to work with, and ultimately no proof either.

        if the XBOX One exclusivity is true, the fact that they refuse to say what platform it’s on, and the fact that the XBOX One doesn’t exactly have a sparkling reputation right now, would make it understandable for them not to want to broadcast that until they absolutely have to.

        2. Once people started to post about artforgames and the Joe Montana NFL stuff they found there, every asset on the site was taken down in about 24 hours. That was nearly a week ago. The site hasn’t returned since. Coincidence?

        3. The JMF staff is bringing this on themselves. When you don’t tell people even basic preliminary info that you would tell in an initial press release like pretty much every gaming company does, things can go wrong. I’ve been saying this from the beginning. Now look what’s happening. First an article questioning if the game even exists, and now this.

        It’s bad for them if it’s true because it just shows evident of how poorly they’ve handled revealing just basic information, and it’s bad if it isn’t true because handling this differently would’ve likely avoided this.

        4. The last two 2K football games came out in July. Nothing would be out of the ordinary there. Besides that, they’d be taking advantage of not having to compete directly with Madden’s release schedule, and would be releasing inside the window NCAA Football has left vacant due to its operations being ceased. If they release after Madden, the game has very little chance of picking up momentum, because once Madden is entrenched, it’s a done deal. 2K realized this before which is why they moved to a July release schedule with their last two games.

        Whether or not the deal in place has any bearing on this, is something we have no evidence or proof of.

        • Well detailed post there.

          If 2K was involved, it kind of invalidates the claims of the poster in question though, since the game would not be first party.

          But if exclusivity had gone by the wayside this would seem more plausible to me.

          • Iown You

            But that brings up a two-fold question that we have to ponder:

            1. If Microsoft is publishing the game, is that alone enough to qualify as a first-party title, to the extent that having a non-in house developer wouldn’t change the designation?

            My understanding has always been that first-party simply means that the console company is publishing the title and that a developer who may or may not be in-house is developing it. However, I have heard non-in housers referred to as “second-party”.

            2. Is the deal between EA and the NFL such that it would prevent development from an outside developer not owned by the first-party publisher?

            Now, I’ve never known of 2K Sports lending tech or working in an outside capacity before (maybe they have and I just don’t know about it), but one thing I’ve learned about life is that just when I think I have something pegged I get surprised by a whole new deal, lol.

          • If Microsoft published a game developed by another party (in this case 2K or whoever) that would be second-party, as I understand it.

            The deal with EA/NFL, through Madden 15 at least, prevented anyone from having an NFL license on consoles, PC, and handhelds. That left open mobile and social. Didn’t matter whether it was first party or not, Microsoft/Sony/Nintendo could not obtain the NFL license.

            That may have changed with the extension EA signed after M25. We just don’t know because EA refused to say – which in itself suggests something was amiss. EA may have felt they no longer needed an exclusive and that would mean far more favorable terms financially for them.

          • Iown You

            Good point. Nobody wants to say a word about what happened with the specifics of that extension, and it’s odd considering that they couldn’t contain themselves to broadcast it in the past. So there’s at least a chance, just a chance, that something may have changed between the last extension and this current one to allow some headroom not previously available.

            One thing’s for sure. This has really started to get interesting. I’m glued.

          • It’s nice to have something like this actually. With all the cancelled games, to have a new one would be exciting, even if it didn’t turn out to be what people dreamed up for it.

          • mhunterjr

            It’s first party if Microsoft is paying for an published it.

        • Keith.

          Nice job. I’d also add the April 2013 interview with Montana and Damon Grow, which I’d never watched until yesterday. Again, there’s an awful lot of “evidence” that just fits.

      • Kevin J Michaud

        If Joe Montana Football is a generic game, the release date is perfect. They don’t have to follow the NFL stipulations and have a month to a month and a half before having to directly compete with Madden. If you’re a football fan, why not pick it up? it’s not like NCAA is coming out this summer.

        • Well yeah, if it’s not licensed, that’d be the right time for it. But claims are being made that it carries NFL licensing.

          • Kevin J Michaud

            I don’t put much stock in that post. Bu t lots of evidence shows joe harford from airship studios is working on this game including a pic of him on Damon grows Twitter during the mocapping. His company has worked on ryse, forza 2 and far cry. It’s pretty evident a jmf game is coming to pic and consoles. The release date and if the nfl is involved are the big questions. I’m going to guess generic taking advantage of ncaa release time and a lack of a pc game. That makes the most sense.

  • Ryan Perry

    Keith, is that you?

  • 40yearoldsurgeon

    If this is true, i’m getting an Xbox One. I have a PS4, but the fact that 2k is involved means Madden is dunzos. We have all been waiting for 2k to come back with a real football game. I haven’t been to a midnight release in years. When this comes out, i’ll be taking a day off just for that.

  • The point is the person is claiming the basis for the game being possible is that it’s always been an option to have a first party do a licensed game. That’s factually incorrect.

    Is it possible the latest agreement, signed within the last 18 months, is no longer exclusive? Yes…as I pointed out. But that’s not what this person is claiming as the reason they can do the game.

    When someone comes out of the gate and is wrong with a major point of their story, you have to question the credibility of everything that follows.

  • MoneyMayweather

    What happened last year when everyone was claiming NFL 2k was back yeah Can’t fool me again this game will never be exclusive or have NFL teams what a bunch of BUllshit

    • blerred

      That was because of hip hop gamer who makes shit up. Random forum poster has more credibility then him lol

      • MoneyMayweather

        a couple of guys made that shit up too I was all excited at E3 and was let down hard!

  • Iown You

    Are you crazy?

    • J.D. The Horseman

      Half Horse, half man.. something here isn’t normal..

  • jr

    I’ll buy for the right price

  • Larry Asberry Jr.

    PoF: The NFL does indeed allow anyone to access their license again. The exclusivity with EA is gone. EAs renewal did forgo exclusivity. Second, the post tried to justify the cost of game within the article, noting football’s wider appeal and the success of MLB: The Show.

    That being said, I owned both Joe Montana games and loved them. If a new game on a modern engine released with 2K Dev help, it’s a day one purchase for many.

    Thanks for reeling in the expectations though. I needed that.

    Regarding first party, if MS Studios publishes the game, it would technically be second party. That would, however, make it exclusive.

    • Tazdevil20

      How do you know the exclusivity is gone?

    • Iown You

      If MS publishes and develops the game, that would make it first-party. If MS publishes the game, but a company they don’t own/control develops it, that would be considered a second-party development.

    • Tazdevil20

      I’m still waiting on the answer to this question. I want to know how you know that the exclusivity is gone.

      • Tazdevil20

        Come on Larry, I know you liked my post so I know you are there. Answer the question…

  • The blame is on both parties. The NFL is too restrictive, and EA doesn’t push to innovate. There’s really no question as to that being true over the years.

    • Lacarious

      Its just very hard to believe that company A paying millions upon millions to comp B and then have comp B tell them how to make a game. Especially when everyone in their right gaming mind completely hates the product that comp A generates. And comp B knows zero about game making. I’m thinking the only thing comp B would be concerned about is having real life scenarious within the game. I.e. ray rice. If EA truly wanted to innovate, the NFL would applaud them for generating more NFL luv while also increasing the NFL market. EA put all the innovation in those millions of $$ going to NFL. That is the only thing EA banks on. Knowing there are no NFL licensed games other than the crap that is madden.

      • Tazdevil20

        Couldn’t agree more with this. The NFL has nothing to do with the terrible player movement and interactions, lack of animation context, crappy challenge system, broken features, awful passing system, lack of penalties, etc. etc. as the list goes on. This is all on that shitty development team. They’re garbage. They’ve always been garbage and they will always be garbage. Making excuses for them after all this time helps NO ONE.

  • Primetime Hero

    According to Polygon, Windows 10 launches “this summer.” (June 21 through Sept. 22) That makes this rumor a little more interesting.