It’s Time for a Change – The NFL Needs A New Simulation Football Game

It’s Time for a Change – The NFL Needs A New Simulation Football Game

by August 31, 2020 1 comment

Once again, EA Sports is trending for its newest edition of the Madden video game. Yet again, it’s trending for the wrong reasons. Just a few short months after the hashtag #FixMaddenFranchise was number one trending in the United States, the fanbase of the once great game has grown beyond frustrated with the new game. This time, the fanbase has created the hashtag #NFLDropEA, in hopes that the NFL can finally see that Electronic Arts isn’t the company that should be making the only simulation football game and perhaps drop the contract with EA Sports.

Before we get started with this new development, please take some time to get caught up with the last few months by reading these two articles. The first was when the #FixMaddenFranchise trend was going and I gave some of my thoughts. The second was when EA finally gave some updates to what they were bringing to Franchise mode.

Just about a week ago, the public was finally able to get their hands on the newest installment of the Madden series with Madden 21. The first thing that must be said here is that this was the first game that was released since the NFL and EA Sports agreed to extend the Madden Series through 2026. EA is the only company out there with the authority to make a simulation-style NFL game, which they haven’t taken much faith to do so in recent years. The company has seemingly done away with the most simulation-like game-mode in franchise mode in recent years by completely ignoring it and not adding any new features, which was talked about in those previous articles.

Instead of focusing on the game mode that depicts the NFL the most, they have spent most of their time in promoting game modes such as Ultimate Team that the company gets loads of money off of. In late-May, Jack Kenmare of sportbible wrote a fantastic article detailing the amount of money that EA Sports has racked in from Ultimate Team game modes across all the games that have it. EA racked in over $1.49 billion from the Ultimate Team platform during 2019, which was a $120 million increase from 2018. The article went on to also include EA’s total revenue, which was over $5.5 billion, with over $2.7 billion coming from players spending money on in-game content or live services.

In the time between Madden 20 and Madden 21, many franchise players took the time to make a plan and post it online for what would make the franchise game mode better. Come to find out for Madden 21, no changes were made to the game mode and it had even been called “classic franchise” meaning that it was being placed on the backburner. Now, how could a simulation game mode in a simulation football game be placed on the backburner? Well, it seems as though EA is more worried about earning more cash as they added yet another game mode where their customers can send more money their way, this time from “The Yard” which is the most unrealistic mode in the whole game.

So, what kind of reaction has the new Madden received? Metacritic is one of the most viewed rating systems that a ton of customers use to post their opinions on games. 15 critics gave their own personal opinions on the game itself, which averaged out to a 64 out of a possible 100, the lowest of any Madden ever. Of the 15 critic reviews that have taken place, 10 of them are either mixed or negative, with only three giving a score of over 60.

Some critics said that:

“…other than The Yard (and that’s a stretch), there’s almost nothing that is worth getting excited over this year.” – Twinfinite

“With far more technical issues than normal and large chunks of recycled content, Madden NFL 21 feels more like an update than a brand new game.” – GameSpot

“Madden 21 is a mess. Last year, the team masked bad gameplay with shiny new X-Factor Abilities. However, with 21 not fixing any of the big issues, that luster is completely gone. What you’re left with is a game that’s fully concentrated on squeezing every last cent out of its customer base. That’s nothing new for EA, but Madden NFL 21 just seems even more blatant than usual.” – DualShockers

“Madden NFL 21 feels very much like the byproduct of a game being developed in a vacuum, devoid of any true competition. Why bother reinventing the wheel when you are the only person manufacturing them? This lack of inspiration feels like a breeding ground for many of the franchise’s biggest complaints, most of which have been festering for far too long. It’s a good thing that the next generation is on the horizon because without that new tech boost to hang their hat on, there’s nothing substantial enough to recommend this fumble over last year’s outing.” – PlayStation LifeStyle

Even IGN, who has stuck by EA’s side giving them scores of eight and nine year after year, has finally come to their senses.

“Madden NFL 21 is a great example of why competition breeding innovation is a good thing. Without a comparable NFL experience on the market, EA has allowed its marquee sports franchise to fall behind in almost every significant way. In a world where its contemporary sports games continually evolve with innovative new game modes like NBA 2K20’s neighborhood, deep franchise options like MyCareer, MyTeam, and MyLeague in the NBA 2K series, or even the cinematic story mode from EA’s own Fight Night Champion — a boxing game from 2011 — Madden’s lack of innovation has reached a tipping point. There is no excuse for Madden’s stagnation. I appreciate the tweaks to the core gameplay and the chaotic novelty of The Yard, but that isn’t enough to make me want to sing its praises.” – IGN

Not only did critics give Madden 21 the worst score since the series has come out, but the user score is next level. The user score is not only the worst Madden score, not only is it the worst score for a game this year, not only is it the worst sports game score, but it’s also the worst score of any game in history with a score of 0.4. On the PlayStation 4 version of the game, there are 26 positive reviews and 11 mixed reviews compared to an overwhelming 1,347 negative reviews.

The worst part, it seems as though the game developers don’t care. When shown reviews that the game has gotten, they seem to laugh it off as a joke as shown below.

This tweet is from a fan who has looked up what the game has received from Amazon scores, most getting a one-star review. Clint Oldenburg, one of the Gameplay Production Managers and Rating Adjustors at EA, most-known for blocking any individual who gives any criticism of the game, scoffs at the tweet, and plays it off as a joke. This just a few months after Ty Stover, who works at Athlete Relations, called EA’s customers “clowns” as you can see in the bottom right of this tweet by Ryan Moody.

Also seen in this tweet by Moody is a glitch that the game had during the beta launch that has been in past year’s games as well. Speaking of glitches, let’s take a look at some pictures and videos of some that are currently in Madden 21. Here are two separate pictures from Madden 21. The first is of “Bryan Bulaga” who is now on the Chargers after coming over from Green Bay in free agency. While the number is correct, that most certainly isn’t Bulaga. The second picture is something that has been seen a lot in the first few days of the game being out. There are no yard markers, hash marks, nothing.

 

There’s still more. The first video shared by Moody puts into perspective how much effort the staff at EA puts into the game. There is a Madden 19 banner and then another Madden 20 banner in the same mode. The second clip speaks for itself, while the third clip shows that not even their brand-new sparkling mode is safe from the constant glitches and bugs the game continues to have.

Now that we’ve gone through a good amount of bugs, let’s also look at some gameplay issues. The first clip shows something that has always been an issue in the game. The CPU blockers, whether it be linemen or receivers completely hinder your progress with the ball in your hands. The whole offensive line gameplay is an issue in itself yet again this year, but once again, the developers working on the game said it was fixed, yet it isn’t. In the second tweet, pay attention to the second video where James Conner somersaults while getting tackled and warps through the defender.

In the last few months, franchise mode has been the same from last year to this year causing an uproar and now we have a timeframe as to when things will be added if they even will be. Since 2K has been announced to be making an arcade-type NFL game again, EA decided to make yet another arcade mode instead of focusing on Franchise Mode by adding The Yard. Now, Madden 21 is the lowest-ranked game of all time by the customers that have bought their game and the customers are not happy, calling for the NFL to retract the license that gives EA the only simulation football game.

So what did their long-time fans and customers do? Well, a lot didn’t buy Madden 21 and are waiting for any sign of improvement to finally buy the game. In the meantime, what did those players do? Thankfully, one of the biggest enthusiasts in this whole movement, Marcus Whitman, also known as That Franchise Guy on YouTube, has provided people with a spreadsheet for how to update their Madden 20 Franchise mode to almost exactly resemble the one that people bought in Madden 21 which you can see here.

This is a great tool to use as it gives an updated league setting and his rosters are great at depicting how good players are instead of EA’s base rosters that don’t give off the competitiveness that there truly is in the NFL. Unfortunately though, sometimes the CPU in Madden 20 screws everything up with some cuts, so you may have to take control of all 32 teams at cutdowns to make sure key players aren’t released. I have used this myself and have enjoyed it although it takes some time to get set up.

For those that bought the game though, they are not happy, and rightfully so. The game seems more buggy than in year’s past and the things that the developers said were fixed aren’t. Both man and zone coverage don’t seem to work and even if a player steps into a defender’s zone, it seems as though the defender doesn’t react and completely avoids the receiver. The offensive line was a big topic of conversation but it seems to have gotten worse. No matter what a quarterback’s rating is, if you play on all-madden difficulty, it is extremely unlikely for a quarterback to throw an incompletion. Customers are rightfully frustrated and changes need to be made.

Early on Sunday afternoon, SOFTDRINKTV posted a video that included plenty of videos and reasons for why the trend #NFLdropEA needed to start. It was seen as high as second on the United States trending list and even had some NFL players tweeting about it.

Thet trend is ultimately to try and get the NFL to rip up their contract with EA for the rights to the only simulation NFL game. There seems to be little to no effort from some higher-ups at EA, namely Oldenburg and Stover, to turn the game around and make it something other than a cash grab. There are plenty of good people that work at Electronic Arts, but those two overshadow all the good people by blocking anyone who gives criticism, bashing their customers, and making jokes at how bad their product is.

EA seemingly has no plans for their simulation-style game modes until they are in the news stories, as seen in the past few months. All they want is the microtransactions that get them more profit and seemingly get children to use their parents’ credit cards to gamble on a video game. The fact that there are gaming companies that are giving more of an effort with a third of the staff that EA has is telling.

Doug Flutie‘s Maximum Football came out in September of 2019. Of course, with a small company and a small staff working on a big project, there are bound to be some issues along the way. Now though, there are tons of things to be excited about for this year’s installment of Maximum Football. Not only are the developers making the game better, but they are focusing on things that their buyers want and showing the game off and focusing on the little things.

The second picture is a “shortlist” of improvements. That “shortlist” is four times the amount of features that were “added” into Madden’s Franchise Mode this year. The developers of this game seem to get what the fans want and they also want a better product because Madden just isn’t cutting it anymore. If Maximum Football could have the staffing and amount of cash that EA had, this wouldn’t be a competition.

Ultimately, it’s all just a wish at this point to get the NFL to focus on their game and make a change. Fans don’t like the product that has been coming out. The ultimate goal is to make a simulation football game that is realistic and doesn’t have a ton of bugs and horrific gameplay. Maybe some changes should happen at the top of Electronic Arts but that probably won’t happen as they’ve gotten huge amounts of profit from their arcade game-modes. If this continues, it would be nice if the NFL would have another company make the simulation game-style while EA could stick with the arcade-style. The fans just want a better and more in-depth game and we haven’t gotten it.

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