As you know here at NerdJockBlog we are on a quest to get American Football on the Switch.  We had the privilege of discussing the latest iteration of Axis Football with Creative Director JD Richards.  For those who are unaware, Axis Football is an independently developed football video game that is available on Steam, Xbox, and PlayStation.  They have crafted a niche alternative to Madden and this has intrigued me ever since I learned about this game earlier in the year.  Below is the interview:

Tell us about how Axis football came about?  I for one pondered the idea of why no one would compete with Madden without the NFL license.  I thought that without the pressure of the NFL you could come up with some pretty creative ideas.

JD Richards

The idea that anyone other than 2k or a huge studio can compete with Madden is laughable. It’s damn near impossible to compete against their money, talent, and equipment. So I think developers need to pick their battles. Axis Games respects EA and Madden, and we hope they continue to advance the genre. The license comes with a lot of benefits. It’s hard to create something that people care about. Especially fictional leagues. I think Mutant football does a good job at that, but it obviously is a parody of the NFL- the thing people care about. So I think that’s why you haven’t seen competition with Madden. APF2k8 was probably the last real competition and it sold for half of madden’s cost and didn’t come close to competing in sales.

Axis Football is the product of the passion that Danny Jugan has about American Football. His passion has spread through the whole team, and that passion has allowed us to continue to push ourselves despite having other full-time responsibilities. None of us work full time on the game. We can’t afford to, however, we are committed to improving this title

NJB

What creative ideas are you most excited about for Axis 18?

JD Richards

The biggest thing we have done with ‘18 was redesigned the franchise mode. We have barely touched the surface of what we wanted to do this year with it, and it still came out pretty good! The future is looking bright for our franchise mode, and that’s where we plan to hang our hats in this genre.

NJB

How have you marketed Axis football? I imagine that you would need to think of interesting ways to promote a football game without any famous names attached to it.

JD Richards

We have used various techniques to market our game, but we haven’t been able to throw a lot of money at it. So a lot of word of mouth, and the clicks that content creators get help us out.

NJB

How customizable are the rules for the game? How much freedom do you give to the players? Could you make CFL rules if you wanted to?

JD Richards

There was a point in our development where we had to decide which way we wanted to go. Continue to offer customization or overhaul franchise mode. I chose franchise mode. I wanted to increase replay value. Coding wise we could create different rule sets easily, however, Canuck Play does a great job at that already. So the community doesn’t need that from us.

NJB

How do you come up with the different player models for different positions?

JD Richards

For our models and assets, we have used a studio called Iron Belly. 2019 will be the first year where we get away from studio assets and make all of our own. This will allow us to address the lack of variety that plagues our title currently. As far as coding goes, I don’t get into that as much. I handle the direction of the title, and what features to focus in on.

NJB

I noticed that you are on the PS4 and Xbox One as well as Steam.  What makes Nintendo’s screening process so different than other major gaming online marketplaces?

JD Richards

As far as the difference between different console certs, I’m not sure the process is much different between the three, but the level of scrutiny is definitely higher on Nintendo vs the other two, and I think Nintendo is cutting way back on the releases they allow in.

NJB

With the advent of all these new spring leagues popping up, seemingly overnight, have you reached out to the AAF or XFL to add those teams and players to a future Axis Football video game?

JD Richards

We have been in talks leagues and companies that deal with licensing opportunities, but we will always do what we think is best for the future of our title.

NJB

Lastly, what are you most excited about for this year’s game?

JD Richards

In closing, I’m really excited about our trajectory. We have grown considerably over the last few iterations, and the support we have received from our loyal and expanding community will allow us to continue to improve the quality of our game!

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