Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

The Madden Killer That Wasn’t

April 21st, 2009 · No Comments

mikeditkapowerfootballMicrokhan is one of the few (American) football fans who doesn’t lament the retirement of longtime TV announcer John Madden. For far too long, the noted fried-food enthusiast has filled airtime with nothing but head-thunkingly obvious comments. His typical pre-kickoff riff over the last decade has gone something like this: “To win, I think they’re gonna have to score some points. But they’re also gonna have to play well on defense.” Thanks, Scoop.

Madden’s departure does, however, revive memories of a bygone era in sports-themed video games, back when the Sega Genesis ruled the roost. It may seem hard to believe now, but Electronic Arts’ Madden NFL franchise was never pre-ordained to become a $2.4 billion behemoth. Back in 1990, more than a little smart money was on Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka and Mike Ditka Power Football. Oh, what could have been, had Accolade Inc. been able to arrange a licensing deal with the NFL. But for reasons lost to history, Power Football’s publisher screwed the pooch in that regard, and players such as poor Microkhan were forced to control generically named blips.

Worse still, the franchise launched just as Ditka was on the downswing. He was fired a year after the game’s release, and never quite recovered his Super Bowl Shuffle rep. Nor did the Power Football franchise, the vanishing of which cleared the way for the precipitous rise of Madden NFL.

Lesson learned: Never peg your gaming franchise to a specific competitor, since they’re bound to fail sooner or later. That, in a nutshell, is Buster Douglas’s legacy to us.

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