How Michael Vick Changed Madden Forever

Vick_maddenI included this in the Roundup (capitalize that ish) this morning, but it’s worth calling out further as it is one of the best pieces of sports video game writing you will ever read. Owen Good of Kotaku takes a look at how Madden 2004 Michael Vick forever changed video game quarterbacks and the Madden series. Good assumes that, tomorrow, EA Sports will announce that 2004 Vick is on their All-25 Team for the upcoming Madden NFL 25 as the best quarterback in the game’s history. Because:

Michael Vick may, for the rest of his life, remain a contemptible stereotype to much of the public: A brutal or stupid man. A laughingstockA guy who did federal time. Still, there is one aspect of his football career that cleanly escapes the wreckage of his personal scandal, that lives on almost as a separate identity, and is a mortal lock to return tomorrow.

It’s the Michael Vick of Madden NFL 2004. The incandescent, unstoppable, oh-god-don’t-let-him-run, oh-please-don’t-make-me-throw Vick, the last of sports video gaming’s otherworldly performers. He arrived—with his jaw-dropping, unheard-of 95 speed and totally unfair 97-rated acceleration—at the sunset of the dorm couch’s dominance over online multiplayer, and in the age when what you got on a disc was what you played with for a year.

Subsequent editions of Madden, Moore said, were still forced to respond to the disruption Vick caused. “If you remember, Madden 2005, that was the year of the defense,” Moore said. “We added the hit stick and quarterback spies on defense.” Vick, and the advent of mobile quarterbacks seen today, changed the game in real life, but it changed Madden more immediately. “We had to combat the real offensive year everyone had seen in Madden 2004.”

Ray Lewis took the cover after Vick, and the Hit Stick introduced in his Year-of-the-Defense edition remains one of the most spammed control inputs in video game history, sports or otherwise. “To this day it’s still probably one of our top features,” nodded Moore. Defensive formations with QB spies—linebackers who sit back and neither drop into zone coverage nor attack the runner, but read what the quarterback is doing—have likewise clamped down on a mobile quarterback’s ability to draw Family Circus cartoons all over the playbook in Madden.

For my money, Madden 2005 was the best football video game ever made, largely due to those new defensive controls that were implemented partly because of Vick’s dominance the previous year. The 2005 gaming season was also the year 2K Sports’ NFL 2K5, with T.O. on the cover, legitimately challenged Madden. But Madden’s new defensive playmaker controls and, if I recall correctly, the addition of Tony Bruno as in-franchise radio commentator sent Madden to another level of excellence. It’s been a somewhat downhill journey since.

Go read.

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19 Responses

  1. Just a point of perspective: EA willingly chose to put AARON BROOKS on the back cover of the game.

  2. Personally I found the NFL2k games far superior to Madden. I wish the NFL wouldn’t sign these contracts for one company to make their games. I’d love to get back into 2k. Now as for the MLB2k games? Pure crap. Makes me want a Ps3 over my xbox 360 just for MLb the show alone. Oh and yes, I’m a fucking nerd.

  3. Madden 2006 with 5 on the cover had the most ridiculous video game athlete… T.O. You could literally throw the ball anywhere within 25 yards, and he would catch it and break tackles.

    That and you knew it was a videogame because McNabb never threw a ball in the dirt.

  4. I won a PS3 three years ago, but I use it to watch DVD’s/Blu-Ray and stream anime. Playing videogames never occured to me. Still hasn’t.

    1. Dude, going off-topic here (right), but other than even MLB the Show, play the Uncharted series. Doesn’t matter if it’s not your genre, wasn’t mine, but they are just incredible.

  5. Aaron Brooks is me and Mikes cousin. It was my idea to put him on the back cover tho. The only contribution I ever made to Madden 🙁

  6. Online was terrible for this game. I used to put the setting on all-madden 15 min quarters and play all day. Oh how I miss being a 13 year old kid.

  7. Best article you’ve had in a while Kyle. Stick to this fantasy stuff and I’m sure you’ll find more fans. Keep away from the “real media’s” stuff.

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  9. Madden 2005 was not the best football video game ever made. That distinction goes to NFL 2K5 and it’s not even close. There are some who believe that game is still better than any iteration that EA has put out since. 2K5 was the whole reason why EA had to go and secure the NFL license that year. Not only because 2K dropped the price to $19.99 for the game but because they were going to put Madden to shame if they were allowed to continue on with the ability to make NFL licensed games. All we have to do to understand this is see how 2K came on and made EA’s NBA Live franchise a distant second in every category there is. True sim football video game enthusiasts wait quietly for the day that 2K is able to make an official NFL game again.

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