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Game on: Madden franchise shows branding typically bests innovation

Lovers of sports related video games almost always circle one particular date on their calendar every year without fail: the release of the new Madden offering.
Madden Football in all of its incarnations for the better part of 25 years has become the standard bearer when it comes to sports games in terms of gaming, graphics and other game play attributes as it relates to football being played on a video gaming console.
The proof is in not only the longevity of the game but the fervor and anticipation the release of the game on a yearly basis. The sales numbers don't hurt the lure of the game, either. Fans flock to stores or start placing orders online before the release of Madden in droves to get their hands on the latest edition of the game, even though only 12 months ago they just spent $60 on last year's version.
When it comes to Madden, most of that logic doesn't translate.
The irony of Madden is that the game carries a "curse" with it, namely the player on the cover being labeled as the next to suffer some sort of season ending or catastrophic injury. The game itself, despite being essentially the same game year after year, still manages to make headlines and continue to sell well.

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A lot of what makes Madden successful has to do with the namesake specifically. John Madden, the long time coach and NFL broadcaster, is a larger than life character in how he coached and then called games, so his magnanimous nature and natural charisma made him the quintessential poster boy for pro football games.
No matter what other NFL name tried to sell video games, none had the tenure Madden is enjoying, including legendary Joe Montana and his sports talk football game for Sega.
Madden, the game, also made a name for itself as being incredibly innovative and groundbreaking in the mid to late 1990s and even into the better part of the new millennium. The last few years, however, Madden has lost some of its luster simply because there are only so many changes and alterations to the game that still are left to be made. Despite Madden not necessarily change the game year after year recently, the brand and the legacy behind the years and years of success typically lead gamers and sports fans in general to opt to buy the game, even if last year's model is perfectly fine to keep playing.
That's the magic behind not only marketing by a franchise that finds itself virtually untouchable in terms of having its popularity wane even if one release after another feels like a rerun.

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