I know I’m late to the game when it comes to the news about Doug Flutie’s Maximum Football game shutting down operations, but I wanted to offer some thoughts and a thank you to the team. I first heard the news yesterday from SGO and I have to say, I was sad and also frustrated with the news because of what it means to the sports gaming community, specifically the sports gaming community.
When I first heard about Max Football 2019 I was super excited because as a life long football gamer, I like most people was heartbroken when two things happened – EA stopped making NCAA Football and EA acquired the exclusive license to make “Simulation” NFL football games. We can debate it all we want, but the general consensus is that Madden got lazy without competition and people wanted NCAA football back.
Enter Doug Flutie’s Maximum Football.
For the record – I’m a big fan of small business and I’m a big fan of innovation. The news of Max Football was really exciting and I jumped in as quickly as I could to get more news. What I encountered was truly a breath of fresh air and something I want to help people understand, especially when it comes to the difference between Max Football and the AAA titles like Madden.
From the jump, it felt like the devs were one of us – gamers first, players of a game that is meant to be fun, football focused and community focused. They, like others out there (Axis Football) appear to be listening to what the community was saying and responding with their best attempt to satisfy those wishes.
Max Football was known for a heavy investment in customization of just about everything – logos, colors, etc but they also let their fans and supporters in the door early through their Patreon program (which we at League Crawler supported) by giving those people a say in lots of aspects of the game. One of which was even the styling of the logos in the game and even the backdrop/template screens/visuals/layouts the game’s UI revolved around. I remember throwing my feedback out in their Discord channel on some of the ideas and I have to say, it was refreshing.
To say Max Football was capitalizing on a gap that existed is selling it short. I mean – if you had the ability to fill the massive whole in sports gaming left when EA stopped making NCAA Football, it would be a decent gamble to see if you could make it happen. But I always felt like the devs LOVED the game and the fans just as much or more than just selling their product. They regularly interacted with the community through their Patreon and Discord outlets – something that is sorely missing from a lot of the AAA titles.
In fact, I remember when I got news that Max Football was interested in partnering with people, leagues, brands, etc in the community for their Bowl games. I sent the nicest, most professional letter asking how much it cost to get in on that and to my surprise, they said – just get us your artwork and we’ll get you in the game.
Yes – and here’s the proof:
Max Football was $29.99. What does that mean? It was never a AAA title and was always going to look like it. What else was it? It was something that gave gamers another option from the exclusivity of Madden and/or the lack of another NCAA football game to try. The community reception was mixed to the game at best and while I understood it, it was frustrating.
“Game looks like trash”, “Get back to me when it’s online”, “Cant import this or that makes it a no go”
This is purely instinct and conjecture but I’d be willing a lot of the same people that looked down on Max Football are the same people that argue Madden is trash as well. My thoughts were, if we want something to continue to grow and get better, we need to support it so it can have the longevity and resources it needs to get better. That may be “soap box” level thinking, but I love that these guys tried, made two really games, put their heart and soul into it and made a lot of people happy. I’ll remember it fondly and be excited if/when it ever comes back. I’d venture to say that with the news that EA is bringing back their NCAA Football game at some point, that might have been the reason Max Football decided to shut down operations? I haven’t dug deep enough to say that for sure – but what I will say is:
If you’re a 100% AAA title sports gamer, by all means – stick with the titles that are out there. Madden isn’t as bad as the rap it gets and some of the hate is overboard or unwarranted, especially the hate given to the devs. But if you’re just a sports gamer in general, I’d encourage you to support other games as well with your time, feedback, social media shares and of course your dollars and who knows maybe the work that Max Football put into their game is some of what got EA’s interest enough to jump back in?
Again – who knows, but what I do know is – like Max Football, there are a bunch of football games out there that I’d encourage you to take a look at.
Axis Football – We have the lead developer of Axis Football, Danny Jugan on our podcast a few weeks ago and was really fun to talk to. They are currently working on their next title and despite also not being a AAA developer, Danny is very passionate about his game and says when it comes to Franchise Mode, he’d go toe to toe with Madden any day.
Retro Bowl – I accidentally discovered this game a little over a year ago and WOW have I really enjoyed it. Check out the Operation Sports full review here or just take it from me and the 30 seasons I’ve played of this game – it is awesome. I generally don’t spend money on mobile games but I did this one and have to say, it is incredibly deep, fun and worth your time.
2 Minute Football – This is a game I’ve played for a while and is extremely casual but also very fun. What I like about it is it’s always evolving and getting better, like any good game should do. I’ve also been in contact with the lead developer and we’re going to have him on the podcast at some point this year. Definitely worth checking out.