Joe Montana Football 16 Screenshot Appears to Confirm an Unlicensed Game

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Posted March 16th, 2015 at 5:45 pm

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After months of speculation revolving around Joe Montana Football 16, and more recently faulty rumors backed by questionable motivations, an image provided by the game’s namesake on Twitter has seemingly cleared up one of the major questions about the upcoming product: it won’t carry with it any NFL licensing. 

The screenshot, which you can view full size here, shows off generic teams, players, and stadium.

Unlicensed games have generally struggled to gain traction in a marketplace dominated by league-backed offerings. The last successful one, Blitz: The League, released in 2005 and took full advantage of the creative freedom that comes with being unlicensed. Other attempts since include All-Pro Football 2K8 and Backbreaker which have failed for various reasons.

If done right an unlicensed game could be successful. No, it won’t compete in terms of sales, but there is a niche there that has been under-served since the exclusive license was established 10 years ago and there won’t be restraints inherent with a league partnership. The cost of the license has hampered development of Madden all the while the NFL has clamped down on any creativity from the developer. That has resulted in mediocre products from EA that have lacked innovation.

Developers have already commented that the game will have a focus on Franchise Mode, which is important considering that was arguably the biggest fault that sank APF 2K8’s chances. They could look at making it more of a story experience, which has proven successful in NBA 2K, and was the basis for Blitz: The League.

Questions will naturally turn to how much customization the game will offer. Don’t anticipate something robust that will allow you to create, share, and utilize NFL copyrighted material. They’re not going to open themselves up to that potential lawsuit.

Not having the NFL license does mean Montana 16 could be headed to consoles and those behind the game have done nothing to dispel that possibility. Though there is some question over the NFL’s exclusivity with EA Sports given the company’s hesitation to comment on the matter, it was far more likely that if Montana were to be a console-based game it would be unlicensed, and it would have to be to beat Madden to the market this summer. Were this solely a mobile game they would need the NFL license to compete there.

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  • Keith.

    The screen shot looks great — reminds me of a cross between 2K and BackBreaker. Can’t wait to see it in motion.

    The fact that The Golf Club made its development money back in just 3 months can only mean great things for the future prospects of this game.

    • Jesse

      Madden looks great too when it’s not moving…And if you think this screen shot looks better than Madden 15, you’re a complete clown.

  • Ross

    They did a great job at getting almost every sport section of every forum excited for a day. Good job. Now I can go pre-order Madden 16.

    • Adam Baker

      Smh. Well I guess Madden can be good if your into MUT. Other than that, what are you looking forward to in 16?

  • tragly

    Will wait for Keith to come here and say he didn’t want NFL anyway and how this game will blow away Madden.

  • gaming365forever

    My opinion I believe this game has a great chance to succeed.
    And EA wouldn’t be nothing without that NFL License.
    There game plays the same as last gen and those graphics aren’t next-gen
    Only when your zoomed in….Let’s not doom this game before it even gets
    A chances.

  • hungryandrew

    I’ll wait for more info, but it’s definitely positive, to have a option besides madden. If it plays well and is fully customizable, I think it can make some noise.

  • That really doesn’t signify much. Tons of mobile games use the Unreal Engine also.

    • Tazdevil20

      Why does anyone think this is still a mobile only game? You are not going to compete with madden as a mobile game, period. Unless Joe Montana and Grow are clueless, which I doubt, this is not going to be a mobile game. Seeing the artwork being done and the posted tweets, it seems like it would be a bit much for a mobile only game. Also, if it was mobile, why not use the NFL license? This is not a mobile game and I think we can be relatively certain of that.

  • I think it’s important that they implement some creative ideas. Doesn’t have to be over-the-top stuff, but taking advantage of the creative freedom is critical.

  • Kent Mutsberger

    “Don’t anticipate something robust that will allow you to create, share,
    and utilize NFL copyrighted material. They’re not going to open
    themselves up to that potential lawsuit.”

    There wouldn’t be one. Just look at Don Bradman Cricket. No licences at all, and when you boot the game it asks if you want to download the “best” user-created teams and players.

    Of course, the “best” user-created teams and players are all the official ones.

    • Weekend Roady

      Nice to hear from someone familiar with DBC – they really found a cool way around the whole licensing thing. That said, the only way to get “real” jerseys and what not is to mod the PC game, but I love how DBC comes basically pre-packed with real player names/faces and as close as possible kits right out of the gate.

      Big Ant Studios is doing something similar with Rugby League Live 3 too, where they release the creation tools to the public to play with months before the games release. That way the teams are available the moment the game is released. I believe RLL is mostly licensed, but it is nice to see a developer give the users so much freedom of choice and creativity. I miss that in sports games, it seems most of the major releases are supplying less and less creative content tools every year.

  • kennylc

    Whenever people complain about EA’s “monopoly” I always remind them that some of the blame should be directed to 2K. OK… so you lost the license, big deal. To just say “welp… there’s that. Pack up the office” is not a strong business model. They could have easily continued on, and as Pasta noted in his article, they would not have had the constraints of the license. 2k should have seen the error with APF not having a franchise mode and dealt with it. Instead, they just packed it up. That’s a loser attitude.

    I truly wish I could round up investors because I would absolutely produce a game. The first mistake that 2k (and Backbreaker) made that I wouldn’t is to release this game with the intentions of going head to head against Madden. Release the game in May to coincide with buzz generated from the draft. Let people play the game knowing that when Madden drops in August, people are leaving the game. And be ok with that I recognize that EA is Walmart and I’m a mom and pop store.

  • Keith.

    EA continues making Live even though it can’t crack 100,000 in sales on either PS4 or XBone. And, that game has licenses to pay.

    A digitally distributed game without licensing costs doesn’t have to sell huge numbers these days to be a success. Again, see The Golf Club.

    • Skopin

      I’m sure Live is costing EA a ton of money right now. And The Golf Club did not have a direct competitor, much less a well-established one, when it released.

      As long as the gameplay and AI are good, this game should do decent. I’m definitely looking for something better than what’s out there. They just need to focus on all the things Madden does wrong/doesn’t do at all (ie DB/WR interactions).

    • Iown You

      Good points. The thing that’s going to be big here is how (and if ) they use the lack of licensing to their advantage, and there are plenty advantages.

      For the record, while I think the game looks great, those helmets are a bit strange. Not sure what they’re going for there exactly, but I’d love to know why they look like that.

  • Zarbor

    No but common sense does….

  • Marcus Jackson

    I hope this means Madden has some comp.

  • MoneyMayweather

    GOD Please let the 2k developers be the one developing the game oh god please.

    • 2K is not involved.

      • Adam Baker

        Has that been confirmed?

        • From people within the studio yes, to multiple people with sources. No one will go on record commenting on a project they’re not involved with however.

          • Adam Baker

            I would love to see some evidence to support that. Based on Damon Grow’s Twitter it appears at the very least 2K has an influence on the game. Saying without question they aren’t involved isn’t true unless you have solid proof of the contrary.

          • There’s zero proof of any 2K involvement, but multiple insiders with sources have said they are absolutely not involved. You can choose to hold out hope for it but I’m not sure why or what good that would do.

          • Adam Baker

            Naa I’m not holding out hope I’m just saying I haven’t publicly seen it confirmed. Until I do there’s good reason to believe there’s 2K influence in this game, just look at Damon Grow’s Twitter.

            As far as them developing the game I don’t believe that they are but I also can’t say for sure that they aren’t, apparently neither can Grow or Montana lol

    • ConCity Soldier

      I think 2k are publishing the game not developing it. 2K wouldn’t develop a game using Unreal Engine 4. But we’ll receive more details on this game later.

  • ImOnaDrugCalledSheen

    No NFL License……..and were done.

  • Kevin J Michaud

    Looks good. I don’t think it’s coincidence the qb is rolling to his left. Maybe a subtle of pointing out a SIM focus and emphasis on mechanics for sucess

  • D Rock Shock

    IDC about generic teams since im pretty sure the PC version is going to have mods for real teams

  • George W Obama

    Sounds good. Any competitions good at this point (if it in fact is good enough to be). I personally wouldn’t care if they had NFL Licensing, as long as its a quality game. I mean when you don’t have competition, these games stagnate. MLB The Show is going that route, and certainly Madden and NHL has stagnated for years. Good luck to them.

  • PachterStation

    EA. Distant memories of Road Rash, Desert Strike, PGA Golf, Shox and the FIFA games on the Mega Drive/Genesis, then it started to go down hill. PGA European Tour was the best golf game. Tiger Woods endorsing the PGA games, it was a disaster. I remember those ice hockey games on the Mega Drive, also legendary games. Never been one for American football games. But I’m guessing like FIFA, it’s the same old every year at £50 a time. Enough people pay the money, not forgetting DLC, so yearly updates will always be out there.

  • 40yearoldsurgeon

    If they calculate the assisted tackles correctly, make the franchise mode deep, presentation was like NFL2k5, and gameplay like NFL, i will never ever go back to Madden.

  • Valkyrine

    Looks like Back Breaker. But most people buy football games for the NFL license. No way EA will let that puppy go.

    • Iown You

      BackBreakers players looked like robots. These JMF players don’t look like robots. I don’t get the BackBreaker comparisons at all.

  • jr

    Not even gonna waste time getting excited until they confirm it will hit consoles

  • Andy MD

    I’d buy it just for the chance that it’s as good as APF2K8 was. Had they kept updating that game with new hall of famers or recently retired all stars, it would be a solid game in the marketplace by now.

  • joe

    Madden has set the bar so low its hold is shakey at best

  • Jesse

    Exactly my fucking point, genius…Great job, you win a cookie.

  • Jesse

    It’s just hard for me to “buy in”. With no NFL, no purchase…I really don’t care if JMF is the greatest football game and grants everyone’s wishes to be the perfect football sim, I will not touch it. Same as how great Tecmo Bowl was, ( I know, apples to oranges, etc.) and when it was released on the Xbox Live arcade, it bombed without an NFL license. But, the game was still the same as we remember…Why is that? Gee, hmm…let me think?

    • Iown You

      The game wasn’t the same as we remember unless you count them throwing in the SNES version you could switch back and forth to (a version of TSB I hated). Tecmo Bowl Throwback was utter shit. The animations were screwed up, the models just flopped over after being tackled. Passing over the top had about a 0.5% success rate because the game all but disallowed it. Just utter shit. And to make it all worse, customization was too limited. That game was a joke.

      Anyway, you have a right to feel how you do about not having an NFL game. Just understand that it makes you a label whore and not a diehard sim footballer. I’d give anything to play a new football game that doesn’t play the dinosaur Madden is, and until you (and the rest of the unhappy football gamers) gain that mentality of football first, we’ll never get out of this, because even a non-NFL game needs a chance to grow, and if it grows at some point there may be an opportunity for the tides to change someday.

      • Jesse

        I never said I was an unhappy Football Gamer…Not a label whore, either…I AM A FAN OF THE NFL. Not a fan of the Cleveland Houndogs or the New York Skyscrapers, or even the Arizona Blazers, etc. There is no connection, what-so-ever. And, “gain that mentality of football first…”, dude, they are fucking video games. If you want the shit to be that real, get 21 of your buddies, and play it. Like, I do every Saturday. Maybe that’s why I’m not “concerned” with video game football as much as you, I actually get off my ass and play it…Outside. And not sit in front of my TV for 14 hours a day and bitch and complain about a fucking video game not being “real”. Right? Good.

        • Iown You

          LOL. And you here commenting on “fucking video games” just like the rest of us, so don’t try to minimize their importance to you to try to win an argument, smh.

          I don’t have time to round up 21 people and play games in my backyard. I’m too busy making money to waste that kind of time. But hey, if you have that kind of time on your hands, more power to you.

          Playing video games is also part of my job since my job as a programmer in this industry kinda requires it… so I spend a lot of time playing them. It doesn’t suck.

          And all you’ve done is proved my point. I’m a fan of the NFL, too, but I’m a fan of the sport of football first. In your mind, there is no football without the NFL. You’re more a fan of logos and names than the sport of football itself. And hey, you’re entitled to that thinking, but you have to accept what it means. You’re the one saying it, I’m just pointing it out as it is…