Where We Talk About a Football Video Game Without the Word "Madden" in the Title

Backbreaker might be the most beautiful football game you'll ever play on a console. . .but is it doomed by its inability to get an NFL license because of EA's monopoly? (Backbreaker screenshot comes via IGN)

I've been a little scarce this weekend for a couple of reasons.  The first is that I had a ton of stuff to do for the college class I'm currently taking that I've neglected a great deal over this past week.  Reading to do, papers to write, all that sort of fun and excitement.

The other reason. . .and, I'll admit, the primary one. . .is that yours truly picked up a PlayStation 3 this weekend, and I'll be darned if there's any chance of actually putting the darn thing down.  If anyone out there is on the PlayStation Network, you can find me out there under the handle DailyNorseman.  And speaking of football video games. . .

That screenshot at the top of the article there is from a game called Backbreaker.  It is set to be released for the PlayStation 3 and the XBox 360 on 1 June.  And that's not some fancy CGI trailer or something that's solely being used for advertising and stuff like that. . .that's an actual gameplay screenshot.  Here's a video if you'd like to see more.



So, as you can see, the game itself is amazingly gorgeous.  The other part of its appeal is that its being built around what's known as the Euphoria Engine, which is the physics engine behind games such as Grant Theft Auto IV.  The folks at Natural Motion, the company behind Backbreaker, claim that that means that there is no "canned" animation for things such as tackles, pass receptions, or anything else you might imagine seeing on a football field.  So, in theory, the players will react in much the same way that they will on an actual football field. . .and, as anyone that's played Madden for any number of years knows, that doesn't always happen in that particular universe.

This means that there will officially be a new kid in town when it comes to football video games in the next month or so here.  But no matter how gorgeous this particular game looks, it has one thing working against it that it may or may not be able to overcome.  The NFL license for football video games has been exclusively the domain of Electronic Arts since 2004 (a deal that was recently extended until 2012).  Therefore, neither Backbreaker nor any other football video game that comes down the pike can make use of the names of the NFL teams, nor the names or likenesses or any of the NFL players.

Now, Backbreaker does come with the ability to edit any of the teams and/or players that a player would wish. . .and with the online community for games like this being what it is, I'm guessing that there would be a National Football League modification for Backbreaker within days of its release.  But some people might not want to go through the trouble, menial and minimal as it might be, in order to make that happen.

I, personally, really hope that Backbreaker succeeds.  Yeah, Madden is cool and it's nice that they update the rosters every year and all that, but for the most part, Madden has been really stagnant for a really long time, and hasn't really been terribly innovative since. . .not surprisingly. . .the folks at 2K Sports were no longer able to make NFL games anymore due to EA's exclusivity agreement with the league.  If Backbreaker can be successful, it can either a) serve to be the kick in the tail that EA needs to make Madden something more than just an annual roster update, or b) get the NFL to drop their exclusivity agreement with EA and allow more than one company to make NFL video games again.

What say you folks out there?  Would the NFL license be enough for you to either purchase or not purchase a football game for your home video game system of choice?  Discuss it down below, and join the rest of your Sunday evening, ladies and gentlemen!

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