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Madden’s Missing Link

Chances are, if you’ve played sports games, you’ve played Madden at some point in your gaming life.  This isn’t remarkable.

Chance are, if you’ve enjoyed football, you’ve tried a fantasy football team at some point in your life.  This, too, isn’t remarkable.

So as big as Madden is to gaming football, and fantasy is to football fans, why have these two juggernauts not merged in a meaningful way?  EA has had an ESPN license for 5 years for their games (even if they aren’t using it on Madden presently), and ESPN runs a fantasy football league, so this is not a big stretch.  Even if the NFL steps in and does not allow Madden to use ESPN, there is always the NFL network, whom I’m sure would be happy to take up the charge.

And the possibilities are really endless here.  Online drafts and mock drafts are obvious.  But you have an opportunity here to give a great draft experience through a console experience.  You can have a local “offline” draft that utilizes Madden as a way of progressing the draft, complete with inputting selections, saving the results, exporting them to an ESPN or NFL.com fantasy football league.  Having a draft board in Madden would likely be enough on its own to make fantasy football fans buy the game.

Number 1 fantasy pick this year?

And this doesn’t have to be free.  Fantasy football nuts pay money to buy draft kits, get into advanced leagues, and more.  It wouldn’t hurt to have basic functionality for free, but upgrading the league to include watching games, red zone highlights, or following the action in some way through the Madden engine could be monetized.  The best part? You get people playing your game for longer.

It wouldn’t be hard to stream these highlights into clips during an actual game you’re playing, get fantasy updates on the ticker while you’re running for a touchdown and more.  Online connectivity makes all of this not only possible, but so EASY, that I struggle with contemplating why it hasn’t been done yet.

Let’s take it a step further, and incorporate Dynasty and Fantasy.  During the offseason you can’t use the fantasy option right?  Wrong! Link it to your dynasty, and everyone has a hand in trying to make their fantasy team a success.  Add in the possibility of players throwing games so that players their opponents have on the fantasy side of things don’t get good points, and you have a whole new dynamic to dynasty (win dynasty, or win fantasy? Can you do both?).  And of course, you could just have a CPU driven dynasty, with human fantasy players involved on the weekly trades, starts and more.

Cover boy AND fantasy stud

You would be reaching a whole segment of people who might not even play games, but would get involved with Madden for the fantasy possibilities.  Charging for some of the fantasy services allows for people to pick up one copy of the game, but generate revenue from them for years, and generally, fantasy players tend to play leagues year after year.

And this is only football.  Granted, it is the biggest fantasy sport, but baseball, basketball, hockey and even golf have fantasy leagues.  Revenue possibilities are everywhere.

Of course I’m just throwing out a wouldn’t it be nice scenario, but as I go into this weekend preparing for an ESPN fantasy football draft at my friend’s house (in which I have the #1 pick no less), I had to think about how awesome this draft could have been if we could utilize Madden for our draft board.

And I’m left wondering why I can’t.

What do you think? Do you play fantasy football?  Would a draft feature be interesting to you, even if you don’t play fantasy football?  Should this be implemented not only in football, but in other sports? Should Fantasy and Madden stay separate?

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