The Madden NFL franchise is one of the best-selling video games of all time. ESPN’s Outside the Lines took an in-depth look at the history of the game, including the early development of the concept:
The biggest pain was conceptual: What was a football simulation supposed to look like? How should it play? “Football” on the Atari 2600 console featured three-man teams composed of players who resembled and moved like ambulatory kitchen appliances. Everything was new: play-calling boxes; an “oomph” (read: turbo) button. Ybarra tried a TV-style camera angle. Finding holes at the line of scrimmage proved impossible. He switched to the god’s-eye, end zone perspective still used in today’s games. The game played better, but it still looked like bleeding Lego blocks.
Not really Jocks vs. Nerds. Instead, it’s Jocks + Nerds = $3 billion.
I can’t find video of the original 1989 version, but here’s the difference 20 years makes, with gameplay footage from 1992 and 2011: