At a panel at the MI6 Game Marketing Conference earlier this week, Steve Allison, chief marketing officer for Midway, made some particularly notable comments regarding his company's ditching of the NFL license for its Blitz
series of games.
Allison commented on Midway’s biggest hit of last year, Blitz: The League
, which represented a large risk for Midway: "There was a quote that my boss (our president) said at our NFL meeting, when we were trying to work out the license - we told them we needed to go back to what Blitz
is to keep our license with them." This references the fact that earlier NFL Blitz
titles included behaviors considered edgy by the NFL, including excessive endzone celebrations and harder tackles.
He continued: "The rumor was that the NFL didn't renew the license [with Midway]. In fact, we didn't renew it with them
- and this was before the Electronic Arts exclusive." Midway subsequently went on to produce Blitz: The League
, a title significantly more successful than the previous NFL-licensed Blitz
Allison continued, explaining that, at the time, Midway president David Zucker commented to the NFL representatives: "What are my choices? I can continue to do something that nobody wants [and make a traditional football game], or I can make the game that the NFL doesn’t want you to play?"
According to Allison, the NFL rep's jaw dropped at this comment, asking: "You’re not serious", to which Zucker replied: "I’m totally serious." It's unclear exactly what the NFL thinks of the unlicensed Blitz
title, but in comments to the Los Angeles Times in late 2005, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy did state: "We obviously don't have anything to do with it. However, we're continuing to look at it to make sure it does not include NFL trademarks such as team names and logos."
Elsewhere in the panel, Allison also revealed some interesting numbers on original IP for Midway: “We’re very committed to original IP, and the risk of new IP. But the truth is, if you run down the new IPs launched (by all companies) in a cycle, the success rate is about 4% in the best years, and it was 2% last year. So new IP is important to all of us, but launching new IP is very, very risky. That’s why, instead of just making a Max Payne
-like shooter with the Psi-Ops
team, we decided to partner with Chow Yun Fat and John Woo for Stranglehold