The popularity of the NFL is unrivaled in the United States of America. In terms of sports, football dominates, at least in terms of viewership and betting. The game has integrated itself into the popular culture of American society, and is an integral part of the American experience. Even those that aren’t fans of football are at the very least familiar with the Super Bowl and their state team.
With such an overwhelming popularity, it is not much of a surprise to learn that the NFL has attempted to broaden their reach. Whether it be through online betting sites, where checking out the point spread is being made easier and easier by the day, or films that focus on the hardships of football, the NFL has had quite the success when it comes to growing an audience. One of the most successful tries to reach a broader audience comes to the NFL through their licensed video games.
The popularity of video games is certainly on the rise, and the various sports organizations have not let that go unnoticed. Among the sports video games, FIFA is probably the most popular. However, the NFL has managed to succeed in creating some truly fantastic games, the best of which we are going to take a look at in this article.
ESPN NFL 2K5
Broadly considered the greatest, or at the very least one of the greatest, NFL-licensed video games, ESPN NFL 2K5 was released in 2005. Back then, video games were just catching on in the mainstream, and for many football fans, it was this game that pulled them into the hobby.
Nowadays, Electronic Sports has an exclusive contract with the National Football League, meaning they are the only ones that can release NFL-licensed video game media. However, ESPN NFL 2K5 comes from an earlier era, and it is the last game of the pre-EA period of NFL video games.
The game is narrated by Chris Berman, and features a franchise mode, where the player must go through the process of preparing their team for a match. The attention to detail and realistic portrayal of football is what draws most fans to this game. And while EA has done some great things with the franchise, it is still a shame that games like ESPN NFL 2K5 are no longer being made.
The Madden Series
Speaking of EA games, you can’t get much better than the Madden Series. Named after sports commentator and football legend, John Madden, the game has had plenty of hits, and admittedly, quite a few duds. But in this article, we are focusing on the good. And when it comes to the good, you can’t get much better than Madden 2005.
Certainly considered the best of the EA-licensed games, Madden 2005 came on the heels of ESPN NFL 2K5, and proved that the series is in good hands. For a series that has been going on for quite a while, Madden 2005 stands above the rest as the best of the bunch.
For those who don’t want to go all the way back to 2005, however, Madden ’11 is a pretty great game. While still over 10 years old, it still holds up in terms of graphics and gameplay, and is certainly worth checking out for a more recent Madden experience.
Coming off of the back of FIFA Street, which was a huge success, Electronic Arts released their first installment in the NFL Street series. And though at the time it did not reach the same audience as FIFA Street, the NFL variant was successful enough to boast two sequels. However, the original remains the best, and certainly the most beloved among fans.
As the name suggests, NFL Street is a “street football” video game, where the player takes control of a team of seven and goes up against an opposing team. The game can be played in single-player, against an AI-controlled team, or in multiplayer, where two players go up against each other.
There are several game modes that the game features, keeping it diverse and interesting, and significantly boosting its replay value. However, the best feature that NFL Street boasts is the “style points”. Style points can be earned by pulling off special moves, and enough style points will trigger a “gamebreaker”, a concept taken from the NBA Street series.