Poll Results Demonstrate the Challenge for an Unlicensed Football Game

Posted March 25th, 2015 at 11:45 am


Given that anticipation for a new football game has been especially high in recent months, with Joe Montana Football 16 expected later this year and Mutant Football League coming at some point down the line, it’s interesting to evaluate the market for such games. There have been so few unlicensed sports games to emerge over the last decade as companies have avoided the risk with development costs rising and consumers demanding all products meet a quality threshold which necessitates those costs.

With over 3700 respondents in the poll posted last week the results put into perspective just how any unlicensed sports game has an uphill battle compared to the licensed titles. Consumers will buy, or strongly consider, licensed games based on the leagues alone while unlicensed games have to prove their worth to even get any consideration. 

Only 6% stated they would buy an unlicensed football game no matter the circumstances. Now compare that to how many people buy Madden every year simply because it’s the NFL product and it’s easy to see just how much that license means. 30% declared that there was nothing which would convince them to buy an unlicensed game. A licensed game naturally gets to go after a much larger consumer base.

Still there are many who would at least consider an unlicensed product should it prove to have the feature set and gameplay quality they desire or a concept they find intriguing. It’s almost an even distribution with 23% leaning towards buying should it prove attractive, 20% lacking any sense of where they would go but remaining open, and 21% feeling as though they probably wouldn’t purchase the game but not closing the door on it entirely.

The poll results don’t mean an unlicensed game has zero chance of being successful. Theoretically the games can be innovative and hyper-focused on certain elements, or tap into an under-served market like “arcade-style” games, and sell enough to be profitable because they aren’t shackled by licensing costs. Of course the road is paved with more games that tried and failed – but generally having specific reasons why they were sunk – than those which were able to find a sufficient audience.

  • Cedbenson

    Pasta and Operation sports love to create negativity for anything that appears to be a threat to Ea. I really pray that a new football game will come along to put an end to the Ea monopoly and make football video games fun again. Ea and their greed stifle competition and innovation. The greedy people responsible for denying people a quality representation of Americas favorite sports should be forced to pay! Financially or physically!

    • No one is “creating negativity” be assessing reality.

    • PJ

      The facts from the poll don’t fit your agenda so you accuse OS and Pasta of being inside EA’s pocket. Tired argument.

      • Keith.

        OS is like EA’s minor league team. Do you even know how many guys have gone on from OS to join EA/Tiburon? Some even get sent back down to the minors, like Chase Becotte, to continue with OS afterwards. You really think OS is ever going to bite that hand that feeds? And last I checked, there was no PRP league with the guys who make 2K, The Show, PES, The Golf Club, etc. Just Madden. So you do the math.

    • GaSouthern6

      So you’re suggesting that a gaming company should be beaten because their game stifles competition and that Pasta is somehow an operative for EA spreading their propaganda…I bet you’re real fun at parties

    • Ryan Perry

      Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but was it not the NFLPA that realized they could make more money by making their rights exclusive, thus creating competition and driving up the price tag? EA just made the highest bid. You can criticize their game all you want, but I don’t think you can criticize them for winning the rights.

      • Keith.

        Yep, you’re wrong. EA was desperate and made the pitch for an exclusive to Roger Goodell simply to put their competition out of business.

        Thankfully, the documents from Pecover (Madden Monopoly) lawsuit have spelled it all out for us.


        • BravesFan24

          Goodell wasn’t commissioner when EA reached an exclusive deal with the NFL, that was Tagliabue.

          • Keith.

            If you read the link I posted, it mentions what Goodell’s job was at the time. Larry Probst at EA is who made him the pitch. Give it a read sometime if you want to know the truth.

        • Iown You

          Yeah, but nobody bothers reading those. They’d rather just remain uniformed, listening to idiotic non-insiders like BShadows on YouTube or guys on OS like Coogrfan who put faith in anonymous poster’s words about a contract none of us have ever read.

        • Fed’s Watching

          That’s a dead-link. Leads to a 404 Error.

    • Skopin

      To be fair, EA isn’t denying anyone a quality representation of the sport. It’s only denying people a better representation of the sport in the context of the league.

      Any company can make a football game, and make it as good/bad a representation of the sport as they wish. EA has only prevented the use of the NFL license. Of course, that means sales will suffer, regardless of how good the game is.

      A large portion of the consumer base doesn’t want to play a sports game with generic teams. I don’t see how Pasta is creating negativity by asking people about it.

      Personally, if the game represents the sport and presentation of the real thing, and is fun to play, I am more than willing to give it a chance, NFL license or not. But not everyone is like that.

      • Look at Super Mega Baseball. Unlicensed, and damn near won the PRP Sports Game of the Year Award. If the game is good, it’ll be recognized, it just won’t be a huge seller.

        • Tazdevil20

          I think people misunderstand “success”. No football game starting out at this stage of the game is going to rival Madden in sales. People who buy madden (mostly) buy it just because it’s “Madden”. They are not interested in a better game. However, There is a large enough community of adults out there who want a REAL football game – at least what we had 11 years ago. You do not need to attempt to “outsell” Madden in order to be successful. Madden is an embarrassment to simulation gaming. I laugh at their silly developers. They are inept in every fashion and it shows in the sloppy, comedic, calamity they release called Madden every year. It’s time for something else and the fact remains, with compelling gameplay and an immersive league, an unlicensed football game can be very successful.

    • Keith.

      If the OS mods closing down all of the JM16 threads wasn’t bad enough, this tweet from Douchebag Donnie Moore really takes the cake. What an a$$hole.

      “Donny Moore @Donny_Moore
      20 hours ago
      @JoeMontana @UnrealEngine looks like 20th century video game technology, no offense. Good luck guys!”

      • Chris Quintal

        OS does have an agenda as does ea n both are in cahoots to cause disdain! Anyone who apposes the agenda will be labeled a troll and banned from any n all forums lmao! Did mommy not give you enough attention when you were a pup lol!

      • Iown You

        Donny Moore is a bitch. And what’s funny is that JMF is graphically on the same level as Madden based on that photo, so what is he even talking about?

        So unprofessional. That’s why so many guys who leave Tiburon have a hard time ever finding work in gaming again, lol. What a stupid ass thing to do, smh.

        • Keith.

          Hopefully JM16’s animations will embarrass Madden’s the same way that Madden’s and NBA Live’s animations are embarrassed by 2K’s, PES’s and The Show’s. Then Douchebag Donny’s quote will look great framed on the wall in a few years when he’s out of the industry, where he belongs.

      • Stubborn

        Madden looks like PS2 in high def

    • Chris Quintal

      This is true and anyone who disagrees is a os or ea rider! These are the facts and people are ignorant to think otherwise! EA has ruined football video gaming; its bad enough they bought the license but to not make one good game in 11yrs is almost impossible but ea did it lol.

  • GaSouthern6

    I still pop in Blitz The League 2 on my 360 every now and then just because it’s fun as hell to play. Not realistic in any sense at all but that’s the beauty of it IMO. Its nice to take a break from the sim stuff every now then, especially when the NFL has restrictions to what EA is allowed to do. If JM Football can take the right advantage of not being under these restrictions, I’ll definitely buy.

    • Iown You

      I still want a sim, but it would be hot to have some of the features BTL had, plus the production depth it had. That’s something none of these non-NFL football games have had.

  • BQ22tdo

    I don’t feel like there is much of a choice anymore. Just flat out, we need something else out there. I don’t like saying stuff like this, but man you 30% who won’t even give the game a shot? You are the problem. You are actively making Madden worse and hurting our chances of ever getting a decent alternative. There is no upside to your position, you are flat out wrong and making things worse for everyone.

  • Kid Fleetfoot

    Announced names of real players either present or legends or created with made up names are great. I don’t like announced numbers however, not at all. If a game is good I can do without the present/legends. Unlicensed is fine too just as long as there are names and not numbers. It’s the play-ability of the game itself that matters the most, the fun factor.

  • MoneyMayweather

    Madden wasn’t that bad it wasn’t a 10/10 game but it wasn’t a 5/5 game either. Madden is at a point where the game is playable. you have fun but it leave you empty every time you finish a game it’s not fulfilling. Madden 06-11 were awful games that sold millions. the game starts getting playable in madden 12 now people want 2k or JMF. I”m all for a new game but with NFL teams and you should be too. unless the game play is mind blowing but I doubt it will be first try out the box. Madden took half a decade to make the game fun again at least halfway decent where you don’t feel ripped off it’s gonna take companies at least five years before they are on a playable level I’m all for JMF but it’s not gonna be great the first game out

  • scamglob7

    Councilman Holleman District 24 Council Member

  • Stubborn

    I promise to buy 5 copies, so there.