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The Top 7... Bitter rivalries

ESPN NFL 2K (Visual Concepts / 2K) versus Madden NFL (EA)



Choosing sides: For almost two decades, the name John Madden has been synonymous with videogame football. Every year since 1989 has seen a new and wildly successful entry in the series. The franchise is a giant, but one competitor proved that it wasn't invincible. With what many consider better graphics, tighter controls, smarter AI and more innovation, the NFL 2K games converted legions of Madden fans.

Highlights: 1999's original NFL 2K won the critics over, but it wasn't until 2002's NFL 2K3 and the addition of the ESPN brand that Madden had legitimate reason to be concerned. Suddenly, the upstart had real-life credibility. And when ESPN NFL 2K5 debuted a full two weeks earlier than Madden NFL 2005, at a remarkable price tag of only $20, the upstart had everyone's complete attention. The tide in videogame football seemed to be turning...

Never underestimate the power of money. Mere months after the revolutionary release of ESPN NFL 2K5, Madden's publisher EA struck an exclusive licensing deal with the National Football League. No other game would be allowed to feature the NFL's players, teams or stadiums. Then, in a massive middle finger to both 2K's football title as well as all of its other sports titles, EA snatched up the rights to ESPN, too. For the next 15 years.

Outcome: With a single blow, NFL 2K and all other serious challengers were destroyed. Madden immediately became a monopoly and, some argue, just stopped trying. Although 2K was eventually able to strike a deal with the NFL players' union to use the likenesses of retired athletes in its upcoming All-Pro Football 2K8, the Madden developers must realize that the true rivalry is dead. They won and we, the consumer, lost big time.

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34 comments

  • TheHungryLemur - June 1, 2011 1:07 p.m.

    It had to end with Mario VS Sonic. Sega does what Nintendon't!
  • TR4rules - October 11, 2010 5:23 p.m.

    I love all theses games, except madden, unreal and quake. I can't stand multiplayer focused only games. However the game i hate the most aand the saw fit to cement the feelinf was madden. I loved the 2K football series, it was always better and then ea decided that couldn't make a better game so they decided that they would make the only one
  • AlexMercer1337 - November 9, 2009 10:31 a.m.

    I CANNOT believe that Halo and Call of Duty weren't included in this article.
  • pyro9393 - December 7, 2008 10:44 p.m.

    sonic and mario rule but only the orginals and id take re over sh any day
  • ryno - December 2, 2008 3:02 p.m.

    i like resident evil better than silent hill
  • Monkeylink - November 30, 2008 11:40 p.m.

    Mario And Sonic Have been competing since they were made And they both SUCK
  • ShadowOps117 - May 18, 2013 7:51 p.m.

    Shut up.
  • cultofbananas - October 10, 2008 8:03 a.m.

    Wow. I hate EA more than ever... I knew they had some sort of corrupt hand in buying out the NFL, but 15 YEARS?!?!
  • AA95mp - September 8, 2009 2:06 p.m.

    i haven't played quake 2 but i love unreal tournament so it's ut for me.
  • ShadesofGrey - June 27, 2009 4:19 a.m.

    FF IX... I could just never take it seriously. How was it ever an attempt to "hearken to the old school"? The FF IV, V, and VI casts were all serious, grownup characters. As great as the gameplay was, IX is the only FF game I've never WANTED to replay. Steiner is to blame. The coolest/strongest playable character... and he has a look and demeanor that absolutely refused to be taken seriously. Take FF X, replace Auron with Steiner. That game would suck, too.
  • KillerPotato - June 4, 2009 3:25 a.m.

    Sony freaking made final fantasy awesomer, nintendo was good but Sony is better
  • 4everbored - June 1, 2009 8:49 p.m.

    you forgot pro evo and fifa
  • reroxas - March 20, 2009 4:31 a.m.

    I think (no offense) to RE fans which I am though Resident Evil 4 was NOT scary it was amzing don't get me wrong but it didn't give me the thrill. While Silent Hill is scarier, But on the whole equal. But to tell you the truth I expected the Final Fantasy one to be about FF against Dragonquest not Nintendo FF vs. Sony FF. The sony FF is ALOT better than nintendo FF. Every Final Fantasy from 7-12 (not counting 13 ain't out yet) except for 9 and give or take 11 proves that but the remakes of 3 and 4 were good but Sony's was alot better.
  • CoD_22 - March 17, 2009 7:53 p.m.

    @skstorm, it wouldnt be cod4 vs halo it would be cod vs moh. i cant wait for the next moh even though i love cod. moh:european assault on ps2 was the first shooter i played. i decided not to get airborne when i got my ps3 xmas 08
  • Toprockerturner94 - February 7, 2009 2:37 p.m.

    ive never played final fantasy nintendo so i'll have to go for sony
  • Toprockerturner94 - February 7, 2009 2:35 p.m.

    tekken rocks its definately the best fighter ever.ive only ever played virtua fighter on the sega master system and i didnt enjoy it
  • Toprockerturner94 - February 7, 2009 2:32 p.m.

    street fighter is the best. though mortal kombat is good for its fatality's and fighting humor street fighter for me has the edge over mortal kombat
  • GamesRadarBrettElston - February 5, 2009 10:33 p.m.

    Just keep in mind this was posted in July 2007, months before either CoD4 or Halo 3 were out. Still had a lot of fun with it though. It's also from the old site design, hence the many pages instead the now-standard four.
  • gutlessVADER - February 4, 2009 11:16 p.m.

    wat u like sucks wat i like rules i hate u adn wat u like
  • noobeater - February 4, 2009 7:02 p.m.

    im sorry but i think mario hands down beats sonic be it then or now (certainly now) oh and i by far prefer mortal combat however with resi v silent hill ...silent hills which i have only recently played its more tough....silent hill is terrifing but i think resident evil is more fun good article

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