When Madden defeated the NFL 2K series in the video game football wars of the 2000s, Electronic Arts was able to purchase exclusive rights to the NFL License. With the NFL License rights, Electronic Arts has had a monopolistic grip of the football gaming world. With monopolies, you can rest assured that companies will not develop their best product because they have no incentive to show their best hand when no one else even has a hand.
Can Backbreaker make EA improve their game?
What is Backbreaker?
Backbreaker is a football simulation that is being developed for the Xbox, 360 PlayStation 3, and iPhone. It is scheduled to be released on June 1, 2010. While Madden tries to create a football game that appeases to simulation and arcade fans, Backbreaker is looking to attract fans of a more realistic feel of football, similar to the NFL 2K series.
Backbreaker hopes to make up for the lack of an NFL License by creating a game with realism that appeals to the simulation and arcade gamers. By using a Euphoria engine, Natural Motion is developing a system that will result in realisitic tackle that isn’t defiant of real-life physics. They are also developing a camera angle that will allow gamers to feel more involved in the game with closer action. Backbreaker will also include online play and a franchise mode, along with a mini-game.
Why Madden needs competition
From Madden 94 through Madden 06, I was a Madden fanatic. I wasn’t one of those addicts who’d take a Madden holiday upon its release, but I played it extensively throughout the NFL season and into the following spring. I would buy the PlayStation and PC versions of the game and try to increase my skills on both. I would play numerous ranked games on the PlayStation version while joining numerous Madden PC leagues, including running my own league for a couple of years.
After 2006, I steered away from Madden. I got busy with college and found Madden 2007 bland. I didn’t start playing Madden again until Madden 2009. I played it for a few months, but ended up selling it. Considering the circumstances, it wasn’t a bad game. With no competition and a monopolistic grip on the NFL License, it was actually pretty good. Still, with no incentive to create a game that is worthy of the next-gen consoles, EA isn’t going to develop a game that is worthy of the next-gen.
Can Backbreaker be the game that sim football fans have desired since the NFL 2K series? Can Backbreaker make enough of an impact on EA to improve the quality of their game?
Can Backbreaker be successful without a NFL License?
Although it lacks the NFL License, Backbreaker will feature an editing engine that will allow users to have complete control of team customization. This will also include a fully featured logo editor.
I’ve been a believer that a football game with realistic gameplay and an in-depth engine to customize teams and players could become a successful video game football franchise. Having played NCAA Football and the MLB the Show series, I have seen people willing to put the effort in creating updated rosters in order to create a better experience for other gamers. There would almost certainly be gamers who would create a customizable roster featuring teams that were as resembling the NFL as the customizable aspect would allow.
With no NFL License, it is critical that anyone trying to capture market share from Madden develops a total team customization system that is extraordinarily detailed. It’s not convenient for gamers to have to wait on updated teams and rosters, but players will wait if the gameplay is sound.
Releasing Backbreaker in June is a smart marketing maneuver
When I learned that the release date of Backbreaker would be June 1st, my immediate reaction was that it was silly to release it over two months before preseason. Now, I believe it’s a brilliant marketing maneuver by Backbreaker.
The attention that the NFL Draft attracts in April proves that football is a sport that generates interest all year around. By July, gamers are enthusiastic about the NCAA Football update that is released by the middle of the month. I remembered I used to count the days that the newest Madden’s would be released months ahead of time.
Backbreaker can take advantage of releasing their game before EA’s major titles because it make it more likely that fans of football simulations will give Backbreaker a try while they are waiting on NCAA or Madden. If they released it at the same time as NCAA or Madden, it would negatively affect the amount of people who would try it because they would get hogged down with NCAA or Madden and never give Backbreaker a chance.
I think the release date is a witty strategy by Natural Motion in order to get more people to play their game, but its going to be important that this game makes a good first impression on football fans that give it a try.
Can Backbreaker compete with Madden?
Backbreaker will never be able to defunct Madden. It’s extremely unlikely that Backbreaker could challenge Madden in overall market share. What I hope Backbreaker can accomplish is solidifying itself as a realistic simulation that gamers can be proud of, something they haven’t had since the ESPN versus Madden Wars in the middle 2000s. It’d be great to see someone challenge EA enough to force them into making Madden into the football version of MLB the Show.
Look out for Backbreaker at your local rental gaming outlet in June.
Jason Weissman, “Can Backbreaker break EA’s hold over football?” Game Rant. March 23, 2010. May 5, 2010.
“IGN’s Official Backbreaker Page.” IGN. May 5, 2010.