Your Thoughts on Potential Interest in Unlicensed Football Games

Posted March 18th, 2015 at 12:30 pm


It’s been nearly five years since a console football game last released that didn’t carry with it NFL and NFLPA licensing. Backbreaker in 2010 followed All Pro Football 2K8 from 2007 and neither received a sequel. The last truly successful unlicensed game was Blitz: The League which came out in 2005.¬†The limited market, greater development costs, and higher consumer expectations have made projects such as those increasingly difficult to justify and stay alive beyond the conceptual process.

Joe Montana Football 16 though looks to be the next to try it and could learn a lot by assessing what worked in those past attempts and what failed. The image released earlier this week was¬†seemingly intended to quash the rumblings that the game would include NFL licensing. There’s also Mutant Football League apparently still coming down the line.

Vote in the poll and leave your thoughts in the comments. Will you consider purchasing future unlicensed football games? If yes, what specifically do you need to see from an unlicensed product to buy in? Poll results and analysis will be posted early next week.

  • Roggie

    As long as it has a legit franchise mode and good gameplay, then who cares if it has real players or teams. After a couple of seasons, the “real” teams aren’t close to what they actually are anyway.

  • Keith.

    For whatever it’s worth:

    EA made its announcement of its new golf game on twitter on Monday afternoon. Since that time, the announcement tweet has been re-tweeted 227 times and favorited 159 times.

    Meanwhile, Joe Montana tweeted the first screenshot of his new game a few hours later on Monday night. Since that time, Montana’s tweet has been re-tweeted 719 times and favorited 579 times.

    My interpretation of all that is there’s definitely interest in a new football game, licensed or not. Is that interest 3 times greater than the interest in a new EA golf game? Hard to say, but the social media numbers don’t lie.

    • Difference is actual media coverage. The McIlroy announcement was covered on ESPN, even debated on First Take (yuck). I wouldn’t expect much golf traction on Twitter either, since the demo for golf trends older.

      Maybe we’ll see some of that when the Montana game is officially announced. But I doubt it gets much coverage as an unlicensed game outside of here, Operation Sports, and the like.

      • Keith.

        We may be surprised by the amount of media coverage that a Montana game is going to receive — certainly didn’t take long for this article to appear:

        “EA Stock: Will Joe Montana Football 16 Threaten Madden?
        Say goodbye to being the only NFL game on the market. It’s time to compete, EA.”

        I wouldn’t expect ESPN to cover it, since they’re in bed with EA. But then again, who really cares what ESPN has to say about this stuff.

    • Chip1010

      Counting up RTs and faves isn’t going to tell us much. Just way too many variables. Twitter is an echo chamber of people who talk to like-minded people; one famous person’s RT can skew the numbers wildly; some of these are just bots; Joe Montana’s personal account has way more followers to begin with than EA’s golf game account; and so on.

      I’m no expert at measuring this stuff, but I feel pretty confident that if both games came out tomorrow, the PGA game would outsell an unlicensed Joe Montana football game by a pretty wide margin.

      • Keith.

        A pretty wide margin? You’re overlooking how far EA’s driven its golf series into the ground.

        For a frame of reference:

        TW14 (PS3): 140,000
        TW14 (360): 180,000

        Total: 320,000

        BackBreaker (PS3): 150,000
        BackBreaker (360): 160,000

        Total: 310,000

        I’m no expert at measuring this stuff either, and maybe you’re right. But I’ve got to believe a quality Joe Montana football game would outsell BackBreaker, especially when you consider the football-starved customer base has only grown in the time since BackBreaker’s release. Guess we’ll see soon enough.

        • MoneyMayweather

          how much did EA pay for you to say that?

        • Iown You

          You’d think so, but the football gaming “community” is one of the dumbest, most apathetic “communities” in gaming. This is proven by all the opportunities they’ve had to spend money over the past 10 years, but instead decided to not spend a dime and just complain as if they had other options, smh.

          Considering that, it’s a miracle any company is willing to deal with the brats of this fold.

          • Keith.

            Call me crazy, but with yesterday’s announcement that Windows 10 is coming this summer, and some other things that continue to add up, I’m thinking that company is Microsoft.

          • Iown You

            Yeah, it is something how things are pointing in that direction. Luckily I was given an XBOX One this past holiday so I’ll be ready for whatever goes down on console, but for PC I would probably need to make a few minor upgrades to run this game to op-level.

  • Kaz McFly

    EA has ruined the Football for the most part. The same stale and half hearted effort every year. They announce a new feature and the implementation is bad. They don’t listen to the people that play the game at all. I welcome a new game to the fold even if it generic. If I can customize my team and stadium and there is depth and great game play …Good bye Madden. I hope the rumors are true that they are working with 2k.

  • Weekend Roady

    With EA mum on the NFL license I wonder if they have the CFL and Arena licenses anymore too? I’d like to see an unlicensed game have a decent creation suite, but it would be interesting to see a game that included some alternative licenses in the game. Have there be a “fantasy” game upfront with historical players and what not, but also CFL, Arena, and maybe some other minor indoor leagues included for various season modes as well. Surely these licenses wouldn’t cost “that” much, and could make the game instantly appealing to football fans in the markets where those teams are. Games that are more Euro-centric do this all the time (multiple leagues in the soccer games, for instance). Just an idea…

    • EA is not allowed to make any deal with Arena Football through 2017 due to terms of a class action settlement.

  • Tazdevil20

    If you asked me this 6 years ago I would have said “no”. I will also say, for any other sports game, it would not work AT ALL. However, football gaming is completely different. EA has made such a horrid mess of football gaming, at this point, even many NFL die hards (myself included) are willing to bypass the NFL branding for a legitimately playing game. The community is so starved for a good, quality game (along with talented and passionate developers who actually tell the truth) that they are willing to play it. The caveat to this is that it HAS to be high quality. It does not need to boil the ocean in year one, but it has to do things well that madden does not. The most basic of that list is MOVEMENT. Yes… Player movement in Madden is still the worst of all games. If the game plays really well on the field, it will grab attention. 2nd (arguably first) is the need for an engaging, realistic and immersive online enabled franchise mode. Whether guys want to play alone or in a league or 32, make it incredibly deep and immersive. With these two elements alone, it would be successful. Remember, success doesn’t mean “outselling” madden. You aren’t going to do that. Success is making a profit and producing a high quality product that spreads by word of press and mouth and it being a “must play” game.

  • Coco G

    If online play is good ill buy it. I dont care about franchise mode, i dont care about real nfl teams. Just a good fun sim football with good online and im all in!

  • MoneyMayweather

    Joe Montana Football on sega genesis was really fun so judging by that game the bar is set really high right now.

  • Jesse

    Yeah, ask Backbreaker and All-Pro 2K Football how that worked out…

    • Iown You

      Yep, but consider that both of those game did just about everything wrong. Terrible uniforms, terrible team names, terrible logos, no player development, no franchise, bad player models (BB’s were the worst), terrible marketing. You do all of that and there is no chance in hell to succeed.

      JMF can learn from those mistakes, but we can already see that they’re repeating some. Their PR efforts have been total garbage, and while the overall graphics look great, those helmets don’t. If they have some time left (and I doubt it), they’d better get those helmets reshaped.

      • Keith.

        Hadn’t seen this before, but now that I have I’d say their decision to use Unreal 4 looks to be a wise one:

        • Iown You

          Unreal 4 is just plain nasty. It offers a springboard for the modern type of football game we need. What can be done with UE4 is the advantage JMF will have over Madden. If this team is talented, they will be able to exploit Madden’s weaknesses and capitalize on them. I don’t expect the game to be entirely more robust year 1, but I do expect the technology to impress people more than they expect.

          Madden is still using ANT as their primary animation tech (straight to C, no companion ware unless you count Moven’s mocap tech, but c’mon, lol), and brother, ANT is as old as dirt; it simply isn’t capable of outputting high fidelity animations, that’s why so many of the animations in Madden look like they’re moving at a lesser frame rate than the total screen refresh. I mean, really, Madden’s tech is literally a piece of shit, and that’s not even being subjective, that’s just taking what they use and looking at the outcomes as they are.

          • Keith.

            I don’t know anything about computer tech, but Madden’s animations look absolutely primitive compared to what we see in PES, NBA2K and The Show.

            And with JM16 using Unreal 4, it sounds like we’re about to see things taken to a whole new level. Just like the OS poster said we would.

  • TMack1986

    Anyone knows when the game is slated to be released? Any clue?

    • Given the name having 16 in it, that would suggest it’ll be out this year, and if they want a chance to sell it they’d have to get it out before Madden. July has been the rumor.

  • JD2339

    Possibilities with this engine will give the game a major advantage. Hopefully the developers and the console hardware can take advantage of the technology. I am hoping there will be a PC version and it isn’t full of bugs.