Madden NFL 16 Primer: Why 'Draft Champions' Matters

Why Nintendo’s Madden 25 Failure Was Inevitable

It's probably not good that I don't know the name of Nintendo's online service.
It's probably not good that I don't know the name of Nintendo's online service.

Nintendo’s Wii U console was supposed to be one of the next big hitters in home video game systems, but after EA Sports revealed Madden 25 wouldn’t be making an appearance on the platform, questions began to arise that have answers rooted in years of negligence.

Cross my heart, hope to die, you will not find someone who runs a Madden site that appreciates more what Nintendo has done for gaming over the years. You’re reading an article from someone who liked Luigi’s Mansion, who has a secret Animal Crossing addiction, and has played enough Wii bowling to name his profile “Strikemaster” in his spare time.

But even I, with all my Nintendo affection, know that the loss of a major sports title was a long time coming. Yes, there are some ties between Nintendo’s refusal to adopt EA’s Origin service that could have played a role in Madden’s absence, but really what I think it boils down to is Nintendo’s years of online negligence coming back to haunt it, and I don’t think Luigi will be around this time to clean up the mess.

It’s no secret to anyone that Nintendo is late to the online arena, having chosen to ignore it on the GameCube, and awkwardly (and in some cases prohibitively) including it on the Wii. While Nintendo has been able to survive in the absence of a true online gaming platform, it did so primarily on the strength of its first-party titles. While that may speak volumes about Nintendo as a developer, it speaks even more about their lack of care toward its third-party partners.

Because Nintendo has waited so long to become a player in the online scene, they’ve effectively isolated their demographic to casual fans that take interest in offline, or local multiplayer titles. For sports games, that’s not just bad, it’s deadly. Everything that fans expect from sports games today, is rooted in the online experience, and Nintendo just can’t provide it.

Ever since players first started testing their skills against one another online in sports games, the genre essentially became online-only. Sure, there are things you can do in Madden 13 on your own, but at its core it’s an online multiplayer game, and because of that no one wants to buy it on anything with the words “Wii” in it.

Everything about the online arena is based on communities. Whether it’s your favorite websites, your social profile, or your Xbox Live account, it’s all dealing in communities. Communities are built steadily over time, and with sports games it’s not a simple matter of which console you would rather buy a title on. Online is about where your friends are, and where you need to be not feel alone; It doesn’t matter to me if the Wii U had a vastly superior version of Madden, because all of my friends play on the 360.

All these years of Nintendo waiting to jump on the internet bandwagon has left them with a barren online community that is going to take a lot of work to build up, before anyone decides to cross over. Sports games will not work on a Nintendo platform until it can find a way to be competitive with Xbox Live or the Playstation Network, and there’s no way around that. Secure all the exclusive features you want, but if my friends aren’t going to the party, then neither am I.

The decision to show up on the internet at the 11th hour is a decision by Nintendo that may not be particularly harmful to their own lineup of games, but it’s a loss of downs in the sports world that I don’t know if they’ll ever be able to get back. Not anytime soon, anyway.

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  • Wii U Madden

    so cross your heart and hope to die, hope you don’t die when you see my
    two websites, one for madden on the wii and the other (current) is for
    madden on the wiiu… and
    … I even created a facebook account and twitter accounts called wiimadden and
    wiiumadden for recruiting purposes for the madden nintendo games

    • GoMadden

      Oh snap. Good job. You’ve got a tough road ahead for you.

  • yienwae

    I’m a fan of the Madden franchise, but honestly, I did not buy the U for Madden. I bought it for the exclusives and the new experience which in my opinion has made it worth the purchase. I have Madden 13. And though it is not great compared to what was released on the PS 3 and the 360, it was a decent game. N has its own online communities, and though they are late in the game, it takes time for those various communities to develop.

    You just don’t get a powerful online community from a console that was released just under 5 months ago and the launch title like Madden 13 or COD BO 2 are mainly ports. The online gaming community for N fans will develop as more titles are released. There is an already thriving community called MiiVerse that is quickly evolving. But I believe it will take time.

    Hopefully, by then, EA and N will work out their differences because that hurts everyone as a whole.