Madden 23 must honor John Madden with this huge change

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Madden 22 has already given a quick homage to legendary namesake John Madden, but EA Sports can do more with a huge change in Madden 23.

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We're taking a look back at the impact John Madden had and the ways that EA Sports can highlight that legacy with Madden 23 as the next installment in the legendary franchise that bears his name.

EA Sports must honor John Madden, and not just in Madden 22

The sports and gaming worlds were both rocked by the news this week that legendary coach, sportscaster, and Madden franchise namesake John Madden has passed away.

EA Sports was swift to react, and the following image went live on their social media accounts as well as being added to Madden 22 as an in-game pop-up.

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Madden 23 22 John Madden
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THANKS, COACH: EA Sports posted this message online and in-game

It's understandably just the first step in what should be a lengthy process to honor John Madden and the impact he has had on sports gaming and the Madden NFL franchise.

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At this point, the most likely ways to honor John Madden in Madden 22 will end up being connected to Ultimate Team, and when that mode is so wrapped up in pumping microtransactions out of fans it'll make even well-meaning gestures from it seem hollow.

However, with the timing in the year, EA Sports needs to instead turn their focus to how John Madden can be honored in the next installment of their gaming franchise.

Madden 23 could pay homage to John Madden with a huge change

While most players recognize the Madden 22 world we live in, and the ways the game works and has worked for several years, the franchise has a rich and lengthy history.

Everything goes back to John Madden Football, and while it wasn't the first football video game ever, it was easily the most impactful.

Released originally on the Apple II in June of 1988 before jumping to MS-Dos, Commodore, Amiga, Sega Genesis, and Super Nintendo (SNES) in the next few years, John Madden Football is where it all began.

BONE-CRUSHING: This is the original Sega Genesis cover
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BONE-CRUSHING: This is the original Sega Genesis cover

By 1994, the "John" in the title was removed and it took official NFL branding for the first time with the release of Madden NFL '94 on Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, Sega CD, Game Boy, and Game Gear.

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With a few exceptions and one-off alterations, that name structure has stuck for nearly three decades, and it's time to bring it back at least one more time.

When the clock rolls around this June and EA Sports is ready to announce the successor to Madden 22, it should be the reveal of John Madden NFL 23.

John Madden 23 absolutely must have him back on the cover

As it always does, the NFL will naturally disappear from the colloquial name of the game, and many fans will simply call it Madden 23, but it's still important to have "John" in the title.

The other change that has to come along with this, or truly is needed whether they alter the title or not, is that John Madden must grace the cover once again.

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From John Madden Football in 1988 to the release of Madden NFL 2000, John Madden was always on the cover, even if he had a few NFL players with him at times.

John Madden last graced the cover for the Hall of Fame Edition of Madden 07, and another Special Edition would be a fitting nod.

John Madden 23 22 07 Hall of Fame Edition
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HALL OF FAME: John Madden last graced the Madden 07 cover

The most likely choice by EA Sports looks to be the creation of a John Madden Special Edition, possibly even dubbed John Madden Football 23, but there's still more they could do.

Gameplay additions, like incorporating his legacy into Franchise Mode or a single player career mode like Face of the Franchise, could be a huge step, and they could take a page out of the EA Sports NHL playbook and port an emulator version of Madden NFL 94 into the game as well.

At this point there's no doubt that EA Sports will make sure to honor John Madden's legacy in some way, and it's an opportunity for them to truly deliver with the impending release of Madden 23.