(AP) -- Thursday marks the kickoff of the 2010 NFL season, and along with it, a renewed interest in fantasy leagues and video games that let Monday-morning quarterbacks feel as if they're part of the action.
The perennial champ of the genre, Electronic Arts Inc.'s "Madden," has already made its debut this year as a free Facebook application.
An underdog contender, Quick Hit Inc., has joined the fray with "Quick Hit NFL Football." It lets players pick an NFL team and coach it through the season.
Quick Hit's game came out in beta test form last October, but without the official NFL teams, logos, uniforms and other touches. By January it had racked up 1 million users; the company will only say players now number "in the millions."
Both "Quick Hit NFL Football," a standalone game played in a Web browser, and "Madden NFL Superstars," the Facebook game from EA, are part of a growing trend of online games that are free to play but sell extra, optional items for small amounts of money.
Quick Hit's updated game brings color commentary from former longtime Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher, plus the ability to pay a few bucks extra to snag famous players or playbook additions. There are only five current NFL players available to add to rosters, the most Quick Hit could include based on its licensing agreements. People can choose among more than 100 past "legends" to round out their teams.
For people willing to pay for a "pro" membership - $5.99 per month, $29.99 for six months or $47.99 for a year - Quick Hit's updated game also adds such perks as new "camera angles" to give the game a more three-dimensional feel. The free version only offers a bird's eye view of the field.
In addition to its browser-based game, Quick Hit said it's working on a Facebook version, which should be available sometime this year.
Explore further: Electronic Arts brings 'Madden' to Facebook