Washington’s NFL team will have a new nickname and logo this fall after the team finally announced it would retire the racial slur for Native Americans it had used for decades despite complaints about its inappropriateness. That abrupt reversal for the franchise will also extend to its digital equivalent, as Friday brought reports that the team’s likeness and name in Madden NFL 21 will also be hastily changed ahead of its release next month.
EA Sports has been focused on player ratings this past week, as hype builds for the latest edition of its annual football sim, but a Kotaku report on Friday indicated that, behind the scenes, the game’s developers were frantically patching the team’s likeness and any reference to Washington ahead of its name change.
“We are pleased to see Washington’s decision to change their team name and visual identity,” a representative for Electronic Arts told Kotaku on Friday. “We are quickly working to update Madden NFL 21 to feature a generic Washington team, while we await final word on the updated team name and logo design.”
Since the new name’s announcement and logo has not yet been announced, the rep said the team will have a generic name and uniform until a later date, when the updated look and moniker can be downloaded for free in an update.
“Changes to the name and logo will come via title updates that will download automatically,” the EA rep explained. “The first changes will be available to our EA Access players and will include audio/commentary updates; motion graphics and presentation updates; stadium art, environments, crowd gear and signage updates; and uniform updates. Players may continue to see some outdated Washington references in other areas of the game at launch, but we are committed to removing all of those from the game in additional title updates coming shortly after launch.”
There’s a few more hoops to go through in the development of the game, but it certainly makes sense from a realism standpoint, as having a game go to market with a logo that has been deemed racist enough that Dan Snyder finally caved to public pressure about its appropriateness would be a PR snafu, to say the least. But the amount of work behind the scenes to make this happen — especially in the late-stage crunch associated with finishing any major video game these days — is certainly notable.
For many who have long decried the slur and its use, though, all that extra work will certainly be worth it to see it no longer associated with the NFL.