The story behind Madden NFL and how it became a video game dynasty (via marc). EA saved more than $35 million by reverse engineering the SEGA console, and signing a deal that guaranteed they wouldn’t give the technology to competitors.
Hawkins assembled a team to reverse engineer the console — that is, figure out a way to make EA’s games run on Sega’s hardware without its technology or approval as a way to avoid licensing fees altogether.
The game has evolved far beyond it’s modest roots, and can be somewhat daunting to play for the first time. I find the same thing when I try to sit down with one of the newer incarnations of the NHL series, compared to the console game. In the versions I played as a kid, you could pretty much just shoot, pass and check. I imagine most of the EA sports games are like that these days, drifting more towards simulation than arcade style play.