RealOpinions: Madden 20 needs to make things right with Franchise Mode players

A core part of the audience are upset and disappointed. What can EA do to improve things?


In the world of Madden we are seeing a division amongst its players.

We have covered the divide between MUT and Franchise in RealOpinions before. But since then the divisions have gotten bigger rather than smaller.

In the last week, there have been major issues with the servers for Franchise modes. There’s a lot of commentaries online, that Franchise players feel that if it was MUT affected it would have been fixed rapidly.

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MUT brings in additional revenue that stretches way beyond that of the initial game purchase.

Forgetting the ethical implications of pay to win, it’s not surprising to learn that Franchise players have felt neglected. I don’t know the organizational design of the Madden office at EA, but I would bet my mortgage that the MUT team is bigger than the Franchise team.

For years, there has been Reddit thread after Reddit thread listing out improvements that players want to see. And a lot of them aren’t revolutionary. They are things we see in other sports games like NBA 2K already; so is it case of investment and priority?

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So what 7 things is it going to take for EA to win the hearts and minds of its CFM players?

Improve Game Stability

With the issues we have seen this week, it has raised this isn’t a new problem for some players. Better stability so that they don’t happen again would go a long way. So would simple communication, not saying anything for days on end leaves fans questioning whether it is even being looked at.

ANKLE BREAKER: Players don’t want to be left in the lurch by game stability

It is also an envy Madden players have of NBA 2K to be able to pick up mid-game. There is a fair amount of disconnects – depending on the quality of internet connection for the players – and the ability to pick up where they were would be genuinely revolutionary to those involved in big user leagues.

Another thing affecting the user leagues is the ability to roll back a week. It has been known for a full 32-man franchise to get to a huge draft in the offseason, only for the commissioner to sim the whole thing by accident. Currently, that ends in 32 people crying their eyes out, and 31 people sending angry messages. Being a commissioner in one of these leagues is not enviable, but this can create infamous legacies that no one wants.

Improve Access to Game Data

Somewhat linked to the above, having a solid environment with solid data would unlock a whole load of offline capability. At the moment, Daddyleagues is filling a void that EA should be able to handle for themselves. This gives you a lot of visibility of your franchise when you aren’t near your console – something that’s invaluable in a big league when you can’t be on all the time but you find yourself with 20 minutes on your commute to make some roster plans.

If EA brought this functionality in house, there would be scope to make the ability to edit more meaningful.

If you could do this remotely, it would unlock a lot of connectivity with the game that transcends just sitting on your console. There is a supporting app, but again, functionality is limited.

SAME OLD, SAME OLD: Scouting hasn’t changed for some time now

Overhaul Scouting

Scouting is a huge bugbear for Franchise players. It’s something unique to that game mode, but it is also something that’s vital to improving your team through the draft.

There are some quick wins that could be improved like being able to filter and sort more easily. But to go far enough to impress players, they need to improve the number of stories about college players, add the ability to interview a certain number of players to get more visibility of their potential and stats.

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This is something Madden could learn from a game like Football Manager. Hiring different scouts who have more accurate knowledge in different facets of the game, that can improve as they get more experience could significantly improve the experience.

Increase the Importance of Backroom Staff

Expanding the existing element of backroom staff would be a relatively easy way to improve the experience of Madden. Having the ability to hire different offensive and defensive coordinators – with benefits coming to players that match their schemes – would be a fantastic evolution for the game.

In the NFL we have seen the growth of recognition for these coordinators, often getting head coaching jobs on the back of the celebrity status. It would be amazing to see this in Madden. The ability to poach an opponent’s OC to become your new HC and getting a boost to your QB as a result of their expertise would be great to see.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: Training has stayed the same for a while too

Improve Training

Training has improved over recent years, but it hasn’t gone far enough. Currently, you can select a few players and some position groups to focus on each week.

NFL teams practice multiple times a week, and sometimes conduct different types – sometimes full practice with pads, sometimes walkthroughs without a ball.

It would be a fantastic development to be able to adjust by player the types and regularity of training in a way that balances XP growth with injury risk and stamina concerns.

Improve Flexibility of Contracts

This is another seemingly obvious improvement that shouldn’t be too difficult for EA to remedy.

In the NFL, contracts have gotten more complex and evolved in terms of how much comes upfront, how much is backloaded and how much is guaranteed. None of this is present in Madden. Adding a 5th year option for Rookie players has been screamed about for many years as being the most obvious quick win.

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Cap management has been far too easy and whilst some players won’t like it to be too difficult, the players who are deep into CFM and want to see a realistic representation of the NFL will welcome it getting harder.

Storylines

CHOICE: There is a lack of variety or consequence in these questions

This is something mentioned in previous title updates, so we know it is on EA’s radar. Improving the quality of these will help to reduce the feeling that the ones that are present are repetitive and dull. In previous editions, it actually worked against you to answer any media questions as the challenges they gave were usually unachievable.

We have seen this season with Antonio Brown, anything can happen in the NFL. Again, whilst some players not like it, mixing in random acts based on player personality might drastically improve the immersion into the game.

There are plenty of things EA could develop improvements for and help to fix the split between franchise and MUT players, and it shouldn’t be too difficult. We don’t ask they tick off everything from this list, but just some of it would help restore some confidence among the players.


Tom Owen

Contributor. I joined RealSport in 2019 contributing to Madden content.

I have followed the NFL for 15 years since playing Madden 2004, alongside being an avid life long gamer. I have been in a national Madden franchise league called NFL Out of Hours for 5 years.

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