Madden NFL has long been king of the sports games, and it’s backed every year by a marketing push that begins well in advance of the game’s release. Just like every other sports game on the market, each new iteration of Madden is pitched as the best version of the game ever made, and there are millions of gamers who happily climb aboard the hype train every year.
One area in which Madden has distanced itself from other sports games, however, is the relationship it has with the sports league the game is based on. Many NFL players are diehard Madden fans, and some of them even openly lobby EA Sports to get their in-game ratings increased with the arrival of each new season.
The biggest “get” though, for any NFL player, is landing the cover of the game. The unveiling of each season’s cover athlete usually marks the formal beginning of EA’s marketing push, and so it seems that the campaign for Madden NFL 16 has begun. EA Sports revealed today that Odell Beckham Jr. will be the cover athlete for this year’s title.
Beckham Jr. is a wide receiver for the New York Giants and is only entering his second season as a pro. He had an outstanding rookie season, even though the Giants didn’t make the playoffs. The final vote came down to Beckham Jr. and Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots, the former managed to trump the latter and take the cover spot.
Beckham Jr. reacted to the news today on Twitter:
Man I just personally wanna thank all the love and support from everybody for voting today !! It's mean so much to be on the cover of Madden— Odell Beckham Jr (@OBJ_3) May 14, 2015
If a new trailer from EA Sports is any indication, this year’s game is aimed at letting players “be the playmaker.” The trailer showcases some of the top playmakers on various teams, including Beckham Jr., Gronkowski, and Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Fans of the actual sport and not just the game will note that the end of the game trailer seems to be a nod to a catch that put Beckham Jr. on the map last season. At the 30 second mark, the trailer shows Beckham Jr. making a one handed grab over a defender.
The cover athlete made a very similar catch in front of a national television audience on Sunday Night Football last season against the Dallas Cowboys. He caught the ball with one hand, held onto it by his fingertips, and then pulled it in for a touchdown – despite the fact that the defender had committed pass interference. Top-tier stuff, indeed.
It looks like Madden NFL 16 will have an emphasis on creating big plays like that one. Not much additional information is available at the moment, but EA Sports will no doubt be looking to build off a stellar effort from last year’s game. Admittedly, EA would be smart not to rest on its laurels, if those rumors about Microsoft and 2K collaborating on a new football game turn out to be true.
Madden NFL 16 will release August 25, 2015 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.