This Is The Year Marshawn, Harden, CP3 Get Real In 'Madden NFL 18' Campaign
Monday, September 11, 2017 at 10:10PM in EA Sports, James Harden, Madden NFL, Madden NFL , Marshawn Lynch, sports marketing, videogames

By Barry Janoff

September 10, 2017: Did Beast Mode almost miss his first official game as a member of the Oakland Raiders?

Not in real life, where Marshawn Lynch had 18 carries and rushed for 76 yards in Oakland’s 26-16 opening week win over the Tennessee Titans.

But in a new spot for EA Sports Madden NFL 18, Lynch is walking down a street with a friend when they seen a bevy of TVs in a store window, all seemingly tuned into a Raiders game.

"You guys got a game today?" asks the friend. "Oh, man," replies a distressed Lynch as he runs off. "Thought I had a bye week.”"

Turns out they were watching Madden NFL 18.

EA Sports continues its multi-media support for Madden NFL 18, which launched in late August, with the spot, "This Is The Year," featuring Lynch, NBA stars James Harden and Chris Paul, plus a plethora of rappers and gamers who proclaim that it’s their turn to shine.

The spot supports distinct features in the new game, including "Longshot," Madden's first story mode; and playing Madden Ultimate Team with friends in MUT Squads.

EA Sports uses the "This is the year" mantra as a different inspiration for different people.

"This is the year . . . the Rams have won the Super Bowl . . . of four-letter celebrations (uttered by two kids banished to their room) . . .  we banish the demons . . .  to get sent to your room (said by a kid who is trashing his parent’s swimming pool) . . . I make my brother cry . . . we win so much we’re going to need a bigger band wagon . . . I start from the bottom and end up on top."

Harden makes an appearance playing Madden NFL 18 when he gets a call from new Houston Rockets’ backcourt partner Chris Paul.

"I’m open over here. Give me the ball," implores Paul, playing Madden Ultimate Team with Harden but anticipating what might be a situation when the NBA season starts. "You can’t keep calling every play," replies Harden. "Pass me the ball," yells Paul.

"This is the year rivals become teammates," offers Harden.

The two-minute spot also features rappers and musicians E-40 and Rae Sremmurd.

Also new this year, calling it a "landmark event" and describing it as the "largest competitive gaming commitment ever by a U.S. professional sports league," EA and the NFL have united to launch the Madden NFL Club Championship, a competitive gaming and eSports event within the second season of the Madden NFL Championship Series.

The Madden NFL Club Championship will encompass all 32 NFL teams.

This year’s Madden NFL 18 Championship Series features the biggest prize pool to date, more than $1.15 million.

Competition began Aug. 22 with the launch of EA Sports Madden NFL 18 G.O.A.T Edition for Xbox One and PlayStation4. (Details here.)

EA Sports’ strategy is to keep the marketing machine ramped up throughout the the year, with the opening of the NFL season a major tie-in.

The game was the top downloaded digital title for August 2017, according to the Playstation blog, ahead of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Sonic Mania, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege and Grand Theft Auto V.

The "Longshot" story allows gamers to play as Devin Wade, a former Texas high school quarterback whose life led him away from pro football but who now is seeking a second chance to make the big show.

Although it has had it peaks and valleys since its debut in 1988 (under the title John Madden Football), the Madden NFL franchise continues to be a juggernaut. Sales since then have topped $4.1 billion with more than 100 million copies sold.

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