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The CFL can’t get a licensed video game made…but the Lingerie Football League can?

Andrew Bucholtz
55 Yard Line

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Yes, the LFL is getting a video game.

The Lingerie Football League may not have eclipsed the CFL in any of the typical metrics (attendance, teams, stadiums, TV ratings, revenue, etc) just yet, but they are ahead on one smaller front. Despite recent reports that Madden's developers have built an internal mod for that game that simulates the CFL, the league still has been without an officially licensed video game since CFL' 99, and it doesn't look like that's about to change any time soon. (There have been efforts since then that allow you to play football by Canadian rules, including Maximum Football, but they haven't been officially licensed by the league). Meanwhile, the LFL announced Thursday that they've partnered with Japanese gaming studio Yuke's to develop a lingerie football video game. Why has the LFL been able to find a way to get into the video game arena while the CFL hasn't?

Well, for starters, it's important to point out that the LFL game isn't likely to be Madden in lingerie. Developer Yuke's is most famed for their wrestling and UFC titles, so football's going to be a new challenge for them. It's also not clear if they came up with this idea and approached the league for a license or if the LFL is contracting (and thus, paying) them to come up with a game, figuring to use it as a marketing tool. However, while the CFL is a vastly more successful league at just about every level than the LFL (which won't even have a U.S. regular season this year), the LFL might just pose a more attractive video game property; as discussed before, the market for a CFL title is relatively small on a global scale, and while there may not be a ton of people who actively care about the LFL, video games featuring scantily-clad women playing sports have been massively successful before.

Video games' treatment of women is another question, and one that's related to some remarkable controversies lately, but at the moment, it seems like there's a substantial audience out there for games featuring women who aren't wearing much. In that environment, it's not hard to picture an LFL game selling. That's particularly true if it's not priced too high. We'll see how Yuke's does at creating a football game, but the LFL isn't targeting hardcore football fans, so it's hard to imagine most buyers caring too much about how realistic the playbook is.

Meanwhile, on the CFL front, the creation of a licensed video game seems as far away as ever. I've been told by a source who's worked on EA's Madden games that the base AI isn't easily adaptable to 12-a-side football, so it's quite possible that the in-house CFL mod the developers reportedly created was more about a few cosmetic tweaks than anything else. Releasing a CFL mod as premium downloadable content for Madden still seems like the ideal solution from this corner, but there are plenty of obstacles in the way, including development time and resources, a limited market and potential NFL interference.

If it's not possible to get a Madden mod published, the CFL could follow the LFL and work with another studio, but there are challenges there too, as that would likely involve building an engine from the ground up. Also, a successful CFL game would rely on realistic physics, playbooks and the like, not merely showcasing scantily-clad women playing football. If a CFL game ever does get made, it would be a tremendous marketing tool for the league (especially to younger demographics), and the ongoing interest in the subject suggests it isn't a completely lost cause. It just looks like it's going to be tougher for the CFL to get a game than it will be for the LFL.

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