First published in 1988, the Madden franchise gradually became the top selling and highest rated football-based videogame available.
On December 13th, 2004, EA Sports announced that they had secured the exclusive rights to the NFL and its players' union until 2009 (and then later extended it to 2012). This prevented any other publishers (notably 2K Sports) from releasing a game that included NFL players, teams, or stadiums until the license has expired.
The EA Sports Madden Challenge is one of the most popular video game tournaments in the world, attracting thousands of spectators and players every year. "The Challenge" visits a variety of major cities, each with a 256-player tournament. The winners of each major city then compete for a $50,000 Best Buy gift card and $10,000 in cash.
Madden Cover Athletes
2013 Calvin Johnson (Detroit Lions)
2012 Peyton Hillis (Cleveland Browns)
2011 Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints)
2010 Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald (Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals)
2009 Brett Favre (Green Bay Packers/New York Jets)
2008 Vince Young (Tennessee Titans)
2007 Shaun Alexander (Seattle Seahawks)
2006 Donovan McNabb (Philadelphia Eagles)
2005 Ray Lewis (Baltimore Ravens)
2004 Michael Vick (Atlanta Falcons)
2003 Marshall Faulk (St. Louis Rams)
2002 Daunte Culpepper (Minnesota Vikings)
2001 Eddie George (Tennessee Titans)
2000 Dorsey Levens (Green Bay Packers)
1988 - 2000 John Madden
For the cover of Madden 2009, EA chose the retiring Brett Favre for the cover. However, after the game shipped with him in his Green Bay Packers uniform, Favre changed his mind and signed with the New York Jets. In response, EA provided an alternate cover, with Favre in a Jets uniform, that fans could download and print out to replace the Packers version. They also provided a game update that added Favre to the Jets lineup.