Madden 22 is now just a few short weeks away from being released, and one of the most highly anticipated parts of that is how Franchise Mode could be improved this year.
Unfortunately, plans for a post-launch Scouting update may be too late to save Franchise Mode in Madden 22.
Franchise improvements promised even before Madden 21
Madden 22 was already facing high expectations and significant pressure to deliver before Madden 21 was released, and that's all because of Franchise Mode.
With the #FixMaddenFranchise campaign gaining traction, EA Sports chose to respond directly by making a commitment to improving Franchise Mode moving forward.
Madden 21 was released on August 28, 2020, but EA Sports posted a Gridiron Notes on August 3, 2020 that promised "high-level Franchise commitments in Madden 21 and 22."
More specifically, they outlined the following features which were being targeted for inclusion in the release of Madden 22:
- Coaching and staff management
- Scouting improvements
- New scenario engine enhancements
- New team chemistry system
- Commissioner Tools improvements
- MORE CONTENT - Examples: Relocation/Branding Assets for Franchise - New uniforms, names, and logos to relocation options for more variety and depth in deeper careers.
They've actually delivered on several of these, but it may not end up being enough when the dust settles and Madden 22 is released.
"Madden as a live service" and post-launch updates
It looks like the double-edged sword that EA Sports is ready to live and die by will be "Madden as a live service," and that core concept is doing a lot of heavy lifting in covering for missing features.
The positive spin is that Madden 21, and now Madden 22, aim to keep the game growing even after it's been released in an effort to keep players engaged over a period of months.
It's an understandable goal, especially when some gamers can be prone to set down a sports title only a few short months after launch and wait until the next year's version is released.
Of course, there's an unspoken undercurrent in that EA Sports also hopes to keep players engaged long enough to get them hooked on Madden Ultimate Team.
MUT 22 will surely be fun and challenging, as it has been before, but the money made from MUT-related microtransactions and in-game purchases can't be ignored.
While it's not clear or confirmed that any features are being purposefully postponed for future updates to extend the lifespan of the game, that is an undeniable side effect of "live service updates" in Franchise and elsewhere.
This "live service" model will continue to be utilized in Madden 22, and that's especially core to Franchise which has a big update already in the works.
Scouting could be too late for Madden 22
"Scouting improvements" were one of the promises made by EA after the #FixMaddenFranchise campaign gained traction, and they're ready to deliver this time.
Unfortunately, that delivery will be delayed until after Madden 22 has already been released and in the hands of gamers for potentially a month or longer.
We've seen great looks at the improved scouting system coming to Madden 22, and it's undeniably an improvement that EA Sports deserves significant credit for working on.
However, that improvement comes with a vague tentative release window of September 2021, and there's an additional catch for those who enjoy Franchise before the update lands.
Any saves created in Franchise prior to the release of the scouting update will not be able to have that feature retroactively activated, which means that players will be forced to start a new Franchise after the update if they hope to enjoy it.
While the scouting update's delay could purely be due to additional development required to fine-tune the feature over the extra month, but it also seems like this could've been intentionally delayed to spice up the post-launch "live service update."
Either way, it feels like a significant misstep, as the staggered feature drop almost incentivizes Franchise players to wait and not even purchase Madden 22 until after that update is released.
Franchise will still be missing features in Madden 22
There are plenty of good things coming to Franchise Mode in Madden 22, and EA Sports as well as the developers working on Madden 22 deserve credit for their work.
So far, the Staff Management system, RPG-based talent trees, Weekly Strategy, Halftime Adjustments, and new scenario engine all look like significant upgrades to Franchise that will be in the game at launch.
We got to test out some of these in an early beta build for the Community Playtest, and our beta review outlined some of the first impressions made by these new features.
Sadly, there are still some major holes, and the biggest one has got to be proper team customization and league customization in Franchise Mode.
While new relocation and branding assets were promised for Franchise, that's far from what the mode needs, as it somehow remains absent of any proper team customization at Franchise creation.
The only way to customize a team is by going through the unwieldy relocation process after choosing a crappy team in hopes of getting that relocation approved, and even then you're left picking from a chunk of predetermined uniforms, names, logos, and locations.
If MLB The Show 21 can implement a logo creator and allow every single MLB team in a particular Franchise save to have a custom name, location, uniform design, and logo, why can't Madden 22 even figure out even one of those?
As of now, it looks like Madden 22 is doing some things right, but even their launch features and a post-launch promise of more won't be enough to save Franchise Mode this year.