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Joe Montana Football 16 in development in Unreal Engine 4, says Joe Montana

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Joe Montana, the legendary NFL quarterback, is once again lending his name to a football video game. Called Joe Montana Football 16, the game is in development in Unreal Engine 4, announced Montana on Twitter today.

The tweet contains a screenshot bearing the Unreal Engine 4 logo. Along with the image, Montana said, "It just got Unreal," and mentioned the Unreal Engine Twitter account along with the hashtag #joemontanafootball16.

Montana, 58, has been teasing Joe Montana Football 16 since July 2014, when he tweeted artwork of himself in a generic football jersey with the hashtags #joemontanafootball16 and #youvewaitedlongenough. He followed that up in October with a video of himself recording motion capture, along with his in-game model mapped to the motion capture, tagged with #morethanarosterupdate and #montana16. The former hashtag refers to a common derisive refrain among gamers: the idea of annualized sports games as nothing more than "roster updates."

Today's screenshot makes Joe Montana Football 16 look like a game that lacks official licensing from the NFL and the NFL Players Association — in other words, it does not appear to contain real NFL teams or current NFL players. There's no word yet on developers, publishers or platforms for Montana 16, but being an unlicensed product would open up the game to being released on consoles, like 2010's Backbreaker.

Electronic Arts maintains licensing agreements with the NFL and NFLPA, exclusive contracts that prevent any other publishers from making console games with real NFL teams or players. An unlicensed game could feature Montana because the NFLPA deal only covers active NFL players; licensing for retired athletes is handled separately. In that manner, Montana appeared with nearly 240 former NFL athletes in 2007's All-Pro Football 2K8, the first (and to date, only) football game from 2K Sports after EA secured its original exclusive contracts in 2004 for the Madden NFL series.

Montana, who played for the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs over a 16-year career from 1979 to 1994, previously starred in a series of football video games published by Sega in the early 1990s. The franchise began with 1990's Joe Montana Football on the Sega Master System, Genesis and MS-DOS, and concluded in 1994 with NFL '95.