With #FixMaddenFranchise taking over twitter and talk shows EA has been rushing to put out the fires.
But their path through the minefield of balancing offline game modes with Ultimate Team has been highlighted by another sports title...
The problem of annual sports titles
Ever since Ultimate Team entered in Madden 10, fans have see it as a growing threat to classic Franchise Mode.
And it looks like the doomongers have been right.
As Ultimate Team has grown and expanded thanks to the profits to that now dominate EA's balance sheet, investment and innovation in Franchise Mode has seemingly halted.
REACHING FOR GLORY: Madden doesn't appear to have been striving for greatness
Putting out a new game every year is almost impossible. The annual cycle for sports games, together with the relative inflexibility of the rulebook, means each game feels mostly the same.
So if yearly innovation is impossible, and Franchise Mode players are starting to resent paying full price for the same old game, why not give them options?
Follow the PES example
Konami has been fighting an uphill battle to get players to move away from FIFA and onto PES.
QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY: Konami's honesty is a beacon for the industry
Instead of trying to push out a new game with amazing features and innovation, they are putting out a "Season Update".
With a price point of £24.99 for a roster update and new MyClub journey, Konami are offering a glimpse of what the future of Madden, and sports titles, could look like.
An update for some, a full game for others?
With plenty of Madden players falling away each year, EA is relying more heavily on the microtransactions within Ultimate Team.
One way to entice the offline and Franchise Mode players back would be with an update that follows the PES 2021 example of including accurate rosters and updated faces, but to bar them from other features.
I SEE YOU: Franchise Mode players are as weary of new Maddens as a QB is of the blitz
Imagine a world where if you just wanted to play Franchise Mode, online head-to-heads, and Connected Franchise Mode you could pay £25/$30 for the updated rosters, stadiums, uniforms etc, and forget about the rest.
That would leave EA the space to make occasional upgrades to Franchise, for which they could charge full price, but be in a position to market the latest title to everyone even if they haven't touched Franchise Mode from the previous year.
Is this likely?
No. Of course not. It's 2020 and nice things can't happen.
However, we can dream.
Franchise players are some of the most hard-done-by gamers around, and there are many that would see this as EA admitting fault and fixing Franchise Mode by charging less for new rosters & uniforms.
Ultimate Team players and those that want to try new things like The Yard can buy the full game and do so.
It's a la carte Madden. It is cord-cutting for gamers, cancel your big cable bill and just pay for what you use.
It's the future. It's just unlikely to be coming to EA any time soon.