Madden 21 is coming on August 25 (for those with early access) and a lot of fans are excited.
But with the latest game mode reveals, there seems to be a community of Madden players who are not happy with the direction EA Sports are taking the game.
There's a real risk this community will leave Madden 21 behind.
This isn't a new complaint
Madden fans have been taking to Reddit and tweeting EA Sports for years. I wrote about this very topic in a RealOpinions piece around a year ago with the same view of Madden 20.
Every year the Franchise community await details of whether EA are listening to their requests, and each year they feel slightly more let down.
CONCLUSIVE: The feedback from fans was immediate
This isn't a huge drop in sales that will shock EA into action. Unfortunately, this is much slower and less noticeable.
With in-game revenue taking over precedence from actual game revenue - its unlikely to change and we are seeing a new gaming ecosystem emerge.
So what has EA done to Franchise mode for Madden 21?
The below is what has been included in the developer notes for Franchise mode;
- New X-Factors make their way into Franchise.
- Wild Card Playoff round to match the real-life NFL which now features 3 games for each conference instead of 2.
- Updated all rookie contract amounts to be more authentic to the actual Draft rookie contracts for all 7 rounds
- Retuned every position's available Abilities to better consider in-game effectiveness of the ability and archetype authenticity.
- Fixed multiple cases in logic of players considered for a Dev Trait upgrade at the end of the season not checking the correct stat types.
- Updates to all team back-end depth chart philosophies so they match the team's scheme.
- Added position-specific Offensive Lineman archetype progression buckets for OT, OG, and C
- Fixed issue where defensive playbooks and schemes for our fictional coaches would be misaligned (e.g. 3-4 playbook with a 4-3 scheme.)
Franchise fans argue this would be a small bug list update in a mid-season update - not what would be considered an annual update on the game.
Is this MUTs fault?
There is no escaping that MUT has changed the face of the Madden franchise.
Since Madden 25, Madden Ultimate Team (MUT) has been a core part of the game – growing in popularity every year.
It moves the game away from a sim style game and allows players to collect and trade players for their own franchise and then face off against other players online.
MISSED THE TARGET: Updates to Face of the Franchise are welcomed, but not instead of Franchise
There are societal impacts of this game mode, with plenty of politicians wanting to reclassify the game mode as gambling due to its pay boxes that you can use to unlock new cards.
That aside, the revenue coming from these in-game micro-transactions dwarf anything the developers make from the game itself. Naturally, this is where the developers' focus goes and the Franchise mode is ignored.
What do Franchise fans want?
Oddly, it wouldn't take much to make the Franchise fans happy again given they have been neglected for many years now.
DEMAND: Tens of thousands of fans are enjoying franchise mode in a game 6 years old
The other cruel irony is that most of what fans clamor for has been in previous games already and then taken out.
The popularity of Big Cat playing NCAA 14 shows you there is a demand for high quality and immersive franchise mode content. It's a shame that fans have to go to discontinued games that are 6 years old to get it.
Some of the headlines are as follows;
- Stability of servers - the big blight on Madden 20 was the multiple week period where no franchise players could access their games.
- Offline access to in-game data - daddyleagues is a great resource, but merging the offline experience to allow you to do trades through the companion app (and it work) would be great
- Scouting overhaul - make it more meaningful, with more statistics and a richer experience
- More variance and depth of content - generally through the game e.g. the breakout scenarios could be more varied and without bugs.
- Increase the importance of the coaching staff - having coaches with different budgets and therefore different skills that impact player development
- Contract flexibility - ability to offer front and backloaded contracts. Make it a better challenge to manage a teams finances
- Deeper free agency - ability to hold workouts, have favorite teams and negotiations
- League editing and expansion abilities - ability to edit the league structure, add in expansion teams and have expansion drafts
- Votes on rule changes - the ability for owners to vote on rule changes annually that then are implemented in the game
There are many more things that could be added. These are key things that have already existed in previous games or are seen in other games.
Madden 21 latest
That said the Madden behemoth keeps moving and we wait for the new release.
With the confirmed release date circle 28 August in your calendar. Though you can play from 25 August with early access.