The best-selling video game in August, according to The NPD Group, was Madden NFL ’09. Nearly 2.2 million units were sold in the U.S. After reading a great essay on the game’s namesake, John Madden, I’m wondering how many were purchased by aspiring (or actual) NFL defensive coordinators.
Bryan Curtis, writing in yesterday’s New York Times Play Magazine, examines the “intellectual legacy” of Madden, which Curtis calls “Maddenism.” He credits the former head coach and current football commentator with instilling in the football-watching public a much-more nuanced and detailed appreciation of the game. He’s done this through his commentaries, but more so with his game. The ’09 installment marks the 20th anniversary.
Madden worked closely with EA Sports founder Trip Hawkins, starting in 1985. He wanted it to be real. It has become so real and so detailed that it actually could be a tool to scout opposing offenses.
“When, in 2005, EA Sports secured the exclusive rights to use the names and likenesses of N.F.L. players, the league began sending EA programmers its ‘all-22’ film: the eagle-eye view that shows the whole field rather than the restricted network-TV box. EA’s programmers use the film to laboriously reverse-engineer every team’s playbook, making Madden NFL one of the best ways to study actual football plays. Shaun Alexander, the running back who was on the cover of Madden NFL ’07, told me with some astonishment that the programmers had sussed out about 75 percent of the plays run by the Seattle Seahawks.” (Emphasis added.)
For the record, here’s how Madden NFL ’09 did on each console in August:
Microsoft Xbox 360, 1 million units;
Sony PlayStation 3, 643,000;
Sony PlayStation 2, 424,500;
Nintendo Wii, 115,800.