Madden NFL 2004 continued the trend, featuring artists like Blink 182, whose song Feeling This is listed in the game as Action.
“(It was) so early … that the name of the song in the game is different from the name of the same song on their album,” Schnur said. “They hadn’t even named the song yet.”
Madden NFL 2004 was another smash hit in the gaming world, introducing players to the possibilities of owner mode (complete with a custom stadium builder) and the mind-bending talents of virtual Michael Vick, the game’s cover athlete, who remains a legendary figure in Madden lore.
With my anticipation for Madden reaching new heights, I pre-ordered my copy of Madden NFL 2004 from Toys R Us. When I picked up the game, I also acquired a custom, Madden-branded PlayStation 2 controller and a Prima Games guide that taught me how to beat the blitz (hint: run slants). I immediately left for a vacation with my family — and spent most of the time in the hotel room, attempting to lead Kelly Holcomb and the Browns to the Super Bowl while the sounds of Jet, Killer Mike and Blink 182 filled my ears.
“I’m a big believer that the discovery of music is critical to one’s personal identity,” Schnur said. “So we wanted bands and songs that would last with you forever, even as times changed and sounds differed, those sounds would be reminiscent. They would be nostalgic to those moments in time that meant to you.”
As in-game musical discovery opened new avenues for artists and bands to reach new audiences, the demand to be featured in an EA Sports game also increased. Madden led the way, but the company’s FIFA (now known as EA Sports FC) and NHL titles became desirable homes for artists, too.
Before long, Schnur and EA didn’t need to convince bands to submit their tracks. The artists started coming to them.
“I knew we had ‘made it’ when Green Day called me not too many years later and said, ‘Can you come to Ocean Way Studios in Hollywood? We want to play you some songs,’ ” Schnur recalled. “They played us, on guitar, American Idiot. And said, ‘When do we need to finish this by to get it into Madden?’ “
American Idiot debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 on Aug. 21, 2004 — 12 days after the release of Madden NFL 2005, on which it was featured. The song peaked at No. 61 on Oct. 30, squarely in the heart of football season.
“When bands like Green Day came around — and Outkast, if you think about it, they were already established at the time — when artists of that stature came around and wanted to debut songs in Madden, that was meaningful,” Schnur said. “We weren’t competing with radio. … We were just making sure that our selections would be impactful enough to last a lifetime.”