August 22, 2006



The Madden '07 video game hits stores today. Which means that millions of young males will spend the next week and a half hidden in their homes, with their XBox controller slowly becoming an extra appendage. Madden has changed the world in a way that nobody could have ever imagined possible from just a video game.

How much has the game changed the world? Ask anyone under the age of 35 what they think of first when they hear "Madden". They'll immediately tell you about the video game, usually launching into a story about how they beat their buddy with a fourth-and-30 conversion with two minutes remaining. Press them a little further and they'll talk about his Monday Night Football announcing. Virtually nobody knows that Madden was a Super Bowl-winning coach.

And now Madden is so popular that it is a name that everybody around the country knows - up there with Tiger, MJ, and Kobe. And that's partly from his MNF announcing, but it's more from the Madden line of video games. Madden is the most popular and realistic video game on the market; one Sunday my dad woke up from a nap and looked at the TV, where he was surprised that the Falcons were killing the Bills. (He discovered a few minutes later, to his relief, that it was just me playing Madden.)

The other great thing about Madden is how much better the game gets over the years. They could just update the rosters and upgrade the graphics a bit, and they'd still sell millions of copies. But they don't. They continue to redo the game almost completely each year, adding features such as the passing cone or NFL Superstar mode.

How popular is the game now? Earlier in August, EA Sports released a pay-per-view that would let you watch a preview of the video game for only $19.99. In other words, people would plunk down $20 to watch a commercial for a video game. I haven't seen any stats on this, but I would imagine that there were plenty of people willing to do so.

(And I hope that Madden continues to give Michael Vick completely unrealistic ratings. He's nowhere near that good in real life, but it makes playing with the Falcons so much more fun. And I would love to see some other features, such as being able to unlock the field from The Longest Yard when you're playing with the Bengals, but that might have to wait until next year.)

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