Microsoft trademarked “Xbox Sports” in late 2012, Joe Montana NFL 16 link/rumours and E3 unveil

See the update at the bottom for more information

There have been some rumours recently that Microsoft creating an NFL game under the name of “Joe Montana NFL Football 16” with the following details making up the rumour, I’ve cut the details down a lot and there is much more definitely worth reading at the link itself (skip over it if you have seen the details before)

  • Xbox One and PC only with Microsoft Studios as the publisher. They’re taking early advantage of the Windows 10 cross-plat tech and the game will be out as part of 10’s 3-month launch cycle in the middle of this year, releasing in mid-late July
  • The game is called Joe Montana NFL Football 16. First-party stipulations that the NFL has always left open & the NFL’s exclusive relationship with Microsoft allows for Microsoft to have an NFL game.
  • The game was demoed and it went well. Actually, “well” is an understatement. People went crazy. NDA’s were and still are in place for them. That’s why you haven’t heard anyone saying anything, but a lot of people are having a very hard time because what they seen was unbelievable and it’s been impossible to go back to Madden or even take Madden seriously after that. It’s like, how you felt when you had an NES and you saw Sega Genesis for the first time. The step up in quality is THAT big.
  • 2K is involved. Should be obvious from some tweets/re-tweets and comments both Joe Montana and Damon Grow have made. Some tech and manpower was purchased from 2K and is deeply incorporated into this game.
  • The franchise mode will be able to be managed on mobile devices and it’s really deep.
  • The iMFL app was never meant to be released. Its entire production was a prototyping run for its franchise mode and management system with the intent of using it in Joe Montana NFL Football 16. Even the TechCrunch interview was part of the staging.
  • There are a few important modes. One is a story mode and it’s pretty cool. Think NBA 2K My Player. That’s what you’re getting.
  • The graphics, animations and AI are all obscenely good and modern. It looks like a game that was built for this new generation, not just a port over from last generation with a ton of sloppy tweaks. The animations are easily the most crisp of any sports game ever made. Comparing the animations to Madden, it’s going make Madden look like a PS1 game by comparison. (Via Operation Sports.com)

So all of that is fine, if it is indeed real that would be pretty cool for NFL fans particularly as it might get EA to step up their game with their own Madden title and this is where the rest of the stuff comes in.

If the rumour is correct the game is due out in around 2 months which is a very short release period and shows the game would have been worked on for a while at this point and above it mentions an iMFL app and tech crunch interview which is linked to Joe Montana, this interview happened on April 22nd 2013 and therefore puts this game in planning and development stages for over 2 years given that the app, regardless of any real release plans which seem to have been staged the game would mostly likely have been in the works in some way during this time.

Moving backwards slightly further, Microsoft trademarked “Xbox Sports” in November 2012, this had to be related to Xbox obviously but the classification isn’t itself for a video game which are listed on OHIM as “Game Software” and “Entertainment Services” it’s for “Telecommunication Service” namely videos over the internet.

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So this might seem weird especially as its not been used, Microsoft Studios have dabbled in sports related things in recent times: Kinect Sports, their NFL deal, World Cup 2014 Brazil app, but “Xbox Sports” branding has been no-where to be seen, it might be just something they never used but on the same day it was filed they also did the same for Xbox Fitness, which was a product that launched with the Xbox One and has the same classification “Telecommunication services” with their registration dates 3 days apart in April 2013, just 10 days before the Tech Crunch interview above (and a month before the Xbox One reveal in May)

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So this is quite interesting. E3 will almost certainly tell us if Xbox Sports and Joe Montana NFL Football 16 are real, does the game actually have the NFL license? Are Microsoft publishing as an Xbox One/PC exclusive with cross-play? Is it really coming out in 6-8 weeks time? Do Microsoft have more sports titles planned?

Back to the game and Joe Montana himself hinted at something going on with Microsoft on his twitter account back in mid-April:

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This is slightly more difficult to prove, but after this “visit”, Aaron Greenberg starting following him on Twitter, nudge nudge wink wink (I checked at the time)

The game is based on Unreal Engine 4 as well which doesn’t hint at Microsoft or Xbox’s involvement in the title given it’s a widely used engine but it wouldn’t surprise me as they are using it for many of their titles including Fable Legends, Scalebound, Crackdown, Gears of War and possibly Rare’s next game too, the image was posted again on his twitter account.

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Damon Grow who is a developer on the game at “Super Secret Sports” (Super Secret = Xbox?) posted this image on his twitter just 3 days after Joe’s trip to Microsoft HQ:

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Damon Grow’s twitter profile:

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These last 900 words or so could be a huge swing and a miss, but given the rumour I think it all potentially fits together well, Windows 10 as of today launching July 29th and this fits with the mid to late July release date of the game.

If Microsoft were planning some sort of sports content line-up it could explain why they filed it so long ago, or perhaps it was related to Big Park’s move from game development to Sports and Entertainment apps but the branding was discarded.

The trademark was originally filed 2.5 years ago but games take a long time to make and it likely would have been in development for 2 years and planning even longer which would fit the timeline of the trademark. If the rumour is true the app was part of it and we know that was talked about publicly around the same time the trademark was registered in Europe, there is no corresponding US trademark for either Xbox Fitness or Xbox Sports that I could find.

We’ll have to see what happens but we know the game exists, the questions remain are only of what sort of game is it, who is developing, publishing and what platforms will it release? (And when) Say it with me, 2 weeks to go!

Update 10/06/15:

It seems Joe Montana 16 is getting ready for an E3 unveiling with Damon Grow confirming that to 1080Players.com as well as a couple of other hints on his twitter.

The first tweet asks about the game and Damon (as you can see) mentions “crunch week”, crunch is typically a term used at the end of development were lots of manpower and time is poured into a product to get it out for the release date. There can also be crunch for an E3 demo but it seems awfully late to still be working on something that you are showing in 5 days time?

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(Via Twitter)

So Angry Joe knows who the publisher are which is “Redacted” in this tweet, could it be Microsoft? Or another publisher? He seems pretty excited though.

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(Via Twitter)

The rumour at the top mentions a very short window between proper announcement and launch so if were going to compare the two I’d say so far it seems to be pretty on course.

Watch this space…