'Madden NFL 21' Hyped Up By EA Ultimately A Disappointment To Fans.


The Madden NFL series of video games has been hugely popular since its inception in 1988. For those who love football, the ability to experience the game like never before has been a huge draw. As the game series advanced, it became more of a series of realistic simulations as players could step into the role of coach, player, and even owner. They could play every snap, sign, cut, or trade away players, optimize their stadiums, and if you did well enough (or put the difficulty level low enough), you could finish a season lifting the virtual Lombardi Trophy with a bunch of all stars from other teams that you traded for/picked up in free agency. You could see Peyton Manning throwing six touchdown passes a game to Larry Fitzgerald as members of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The NFL was your oyster.

With the popularity of the game, a new installment comes out every year, and as the years have gone by, the reactions to them have been...less than positive.

A common criticism of the franchise is that instead of innovating, the biggest change every year is minor graphics improvements and a roster update. It is hard to argue against that issue. Here is a picture of the gameplay in Madden NFL 20.


And here is a picture of gameplay in Madden NFL 21.


Or is it?

When you look at screens like that, it is hard to argue against the point. Roster changes and a bit of a face lift do not make dropping sixty bucks on another Madden title worth it.

Now, that is not to say that Madden has nothing new for fans. This year's offering gave us The Yard, a game mode where the rules are completely different, the style is unlike anything we've ever seen in Madden before, and it just lets loose in general. The response to it has been mixed to positive, with people saying it is an absolute blast, while others agree that it is, but it gets old fast. It is a shiny distraction for a few hours that loses its luster quickly. Even if it was a groundbreaking masterpiece of gaming, it would not be able to save the game for the fans as a whole. While the critics ranked the game around the 6.5 mark, the fan rating is...0.2. That is worse than the E.T. game, which is widely regarded as the worst game ever made. It was so bad that it nearly killed the gaming industry. Players are saying that Madden 21 is even worse than that.

It would, of course, be ridiculous to assume that there is not a massive amount of hyperbole in fan reactions, but it does reveal an underlying truth: fans are sick of the same old stuff. There are features that were present in Madden games for years that fans have been begging for. The technology is there. EA has the ability to add whatever it wants to give fans the best football gaming experience possible. It just...doesn't.

That may be because the focus for EA is not Franchise Mode, and it has not been in a while. Its bread and butter is Madden Ultimate Team, a mode where players can either grind or pay hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to build up the best team that they can so that they may play other people around the world. If you want Drew Brees in Franchise Mode, you can sign him in free agency or trade for him. In MUT, you can either grind for countless hours, or pay money to open up a pack and hope he is in there. One of them gets EA more money. The other does not. And it works, too. There are many YouTube videos out there of gamers opening up thousands of dollars' worth of packs. It is just another way for them to make more money, so they are going to care about it more.

Another aspect of the game is the Face of the Franchise game mode. In that mode, you can take a custom character from high school all the way to the NFL Hall of Fame. It was touted as a story where your choices mattered, and you could even pick the position you wanted to play (QB, RB or WR) which was new for the game. Instead, we got a story so linear, where the choices are so meaningless that it makes the ending of Mass Effect 3 look varied by comparison. Throw ten touchdowns in a playoff game? Doesn't matter. You still get benched because the other QB "fits the system better." The story is laughable, the choices don't matter, the characters are awful, and EA should really consider hiring somebody outside of a bad fanfiction forum to write the dialogue next time. It was the opportunity to essentially place you in the game, but it was universally despised.

The ultimate frustration is that EA actually made a video assuring fans that it was working hard to improve the game; that it listened to fans and wanted to make the best product possible. That ended up being such a falsehood that the heads of EA should think of running for public office. What the fans got was a buggy mess with copy/paste features, a slight touchup on the graphics, a story mode that would not get picked up as a soap opera because it was too poorly written and stuffed with clichés, a ton of microtransactions, and a decently fun new element that made it not a total waste of time. Fans are begging the NFL to drop EA so that they can perhaps get good football games again, but given that they just signed a deal to give EA exclusive rights through 2026, that is not happening.

Madden NFL 21, despite all of its faults, made a ton of money. The deafening fan outcry did nothing to hurt sales. It was universally despised, but it made all of the money that EA was hoping to make.

Draw your own conclusions.

Source(s): IGNGiveMeSportPC Gamer

Comments