John Madden created the definitive football video game back in 1993 with Madden NFL. Developed by EA Sports, a new version of Madden is produced before each NFL season. The newest edition, Madden NFL 18 was released this August and is currently approaching one million copies sold. We rank every Madden game from 2000-2018, starting with this list below.
19. Madden NFL 2000 (Cover Athlete: John Madden)
Madden 2000 was the last version to not feature an NFL player on the cover. While this is far from the strongest title in the series, it did set the table for the Madden games that we know and love today. This game has the first version of franchise mode, which would go on to be Madden’s biggest attraction.
18. Madden NFL 10 (Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald)
This is the first and only game that features more than one athlete on the cover. Polamalu and Fitzgerald had just met in the Super Bowl, making this one of the most talked about covers in the series’ history. Unfortunately, the cover was the best part of this game.
17. Madden NFL 2001 (Eddie George)
Madden NFL 2001 broke a lot of ground in the gaming industry. George was the first solo cover athlete, NFL Europe teams were included for the first time, and the game made its debut on PlayStation 2. With more than 60 teams and 40 stadiums featured, Madden 2001 was definitely innovative, but a little too ambitious at the same time.
16. Madden NFL 2005 (Ray Lewis)
EA Sports was given an incredibly difficult task having to follow up the ultra-popular 2004 game featuring Michael Vick on the cover. Baltimore Ravens’ LB Ray Lewis truly does serve as the inspiration of this game’s theme. The tagline for the version was “Fear the D.” Both the hit-stick and soundtrack were polarizing. The sudden rise of the competitor game, ESPN NFL 2K5, did not help either.
15. Madden NFL 13 (Calvin Johnson)
Detroit WR Calvin Johnson was deemed the winner of the game’s first cover athlete vote. It was one of the most complete versions with more than 80 hours of commentary from broadcasters Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. Big-name players like Cam Newton and Tim Tebow had personalized end zone celebrations as well. Fans reacted poorly to the game’s soundtrack though, which featured original compositions instead of the usual licensed songs.
14. Madden NFL 2002 (Daunte Culpepper)
2002’s game is known mostly for producing the first case of the “Madden Curse.” Catalyst of the Vikings’ high-powered offense, QB Daunte Culpepper, saw his season stats essentially cut in half after appearing on the cover. Sadly, Culpepper’s swift decline may be this game’s lasting legacy. It does have an expansion draft option, which gave this version a unique touch in an otherwise formulaic game.
13. Madden NFL 09 (Brett Favre)
The cover of ’09 features QB Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers….I mean, New York Jets. This game received a lot of buzz before it was ever released due to Favre’s return to the NFL in the big apple. Gamers were jubilated at the disappearance of the passing cone, which appeared in the previous three versions. Play-by-play commentary is provided by Tom Hammond and Cris Collinsworth this time and the game went on to sell more than three million copies.