Retired NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana has revealed that his new game, Joe Montana Football 16, is being developed in Unreal Engine 4. The new title will arrive on unnamed platforms nearly 25 years after the first Joe Montana Football came out for Sega Genesis.
— Joseph Montana (@JoeMontana) March 17, 2015
The accompanying screenshot’s lack of recognizable branding suggests that the game is not licensed by the NFL and the NFL Players Association, and so will not feature real NFL teams or current players. This is likely the case due to Electronic Arts’ exclusive licensing agreement with the NFL and NFLPA, which has been maintained despite a 2008 class-action antitrust lawsuit which succeeded in striking down EA’s exclusivity with the NCAA. The arrangement does not cover past NFL players, who could potentially be licensed for play if Montana wants to lean into the nostalgia factor that his name carries.
Montana first teased the game in July 2014 with a tweet featuring a picture of himself in a generic jersey with the hashtags #youvewaitedlongenough and #joemontanafootball16. He followed up in October with another tweet that included a gif of Montana in a motion-capture session along with the hashtags #morethanarosterupdate and #montana16. The former refers to a common complaint among fans of sports games that the annual iterations often feel like nothing more than an update to the current roster of players without changing the game in any substantial way otherwise.
The original Joe Montana Football was commissioned by Sega in 1989 in order to build out a portfolio of recognizable games for the new Sega Genesis console. EA’s Park Place Productions, which had just developed the iconic John Madden Football, took on the project, which was released in January 1991. In contrast to Madden‘s realistic plays and accurate rosters, Joe Montana Football featured only Montana and a roster of fictional players and generic teams with an simpler, arcade style of play.
The original game’s moderate success led to four sequels, developed by BlueSky Software, which is notable for creating a number of other Genesis classics like Vectorman and Shadowrun. The last game produced featuring Montana was NFL ’95, which was followed by similar releases featuring Deion Sanders.
Joe Montana, aka “Joe Cool” or “The Comeback Kid,” kicked off his NFL career in 1979 after winning the college national championship with Notre Dame. He played for the San Francisco 49ers for 14 seasons (and 2 more for the Kansas City Chiefs), winning four Super Bowls and earning the distinction of first player to be named Superbowl MVP three times. He was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000, his first year eligible.