Creator of Madden Football Launching a New Indie Sports Network

A new studio is looking to make sports titles without the use of team branding.

Robin Antonick is a bit of a legend in the gaming industry. With Trip Hawkins, he created the original John Madden Football back in 1988. Madden Football has since become the most successful sports video game franchise in history, and has built Electronic Arts into the juggernaut it is today.

So when he announced a new Indie Sports Network (or ISN) this morning with industry veteran Robert Lindsey, it caught some attention. Sports games (Madden in particular) have done little to innovate in the gameplay department and have relied mostly on exclusive licensing of those particular sports brands. Antonick is looking to change that.

“The industry model for sports games is stagnating, with an on-average $60 annual investment for a new roster minimal iterative improvements, year over year. I’ve long wanted to shake things up by placing the creative power and value into the hands of the players themselves,”

ISN has their sights set on popular sports like football, baseball, and hockey... but their first entry will be focused on basketball, with Grudge Match: Street Basketball. They describe the game as having competitive, arcade-style gameplay with a heavy emphasis on creating your own characters and teams with the potential to be sponsored and reach Pro level. There also seems to be a gym/training element to the game that could mean levels and stats for your players... but is currently only referred to as "Basketball IQ".

“We believe that sports game enthusiasts want something more; that, as true fans, it’s better to play and create your own story rather than relive someone else’s glory,”

ISN plans on developing the title with the help of a $500,000 Kickstarter campaign. The platforms they've announced are PC, Mac, Linux (which means Steam OS is likely), and oddly enough... OUYA. Like we've seen with many Kickstarter campaigns, with stretch goals, much of that is bound to change. It should be noted that with the Grudge Match Kickstarter, they are taking advantage of the FreeTheGames Fund, which helps developers by matching pledge dollars in exchange for timed exclusivity on the OUYA platform. 

So what do you guys think? Can sports games be successful without the branding of professional sports teams? Efforts to fund a new Mutant Football League game with Kickstarter fell very short of its target goal last month. If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, go donate on their Kickstarter campaign now.

Published Nov. 7th 2013
  • Ryan Kerns
    Featured Columnist
    Thanks :) It's kind of ironic that the creator of Madden will be going up against the beast he helped create.
  • Robert Hein
    Featured Contributor
    Fantastic news, great catch! And I love the picture choice.

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