In the early years of the Madden franchise, fans were happy just to have a game that gave them the ability to play as their favorite NFL team, but that obviously no longer suffices. The sports gaming genre has grown immensely over the last 15 years, and so has consumer expectations. EA Sports will be releasing their 25th anniversary edition of Madden this year, which is extremely impressive for an individual franchise, but this same franchise has had its struggles during the current generation.
Electronic Arts did themselves no favors, at least in the world of public perception, when they struck a deal in 2005 for the exclusive licensing rights for the NFL. While it may have been an lucratively beneficial deal for both sides, it put a target squarely on the back of EA Sports, who nowfound themselves and their Madden franchise under a microscope of scrutiny, and rightfully so. Since putting pen to paper for the NFL licensing rights Madden has sold consistently well, but has struggled create a title that the masses would call a true simulation.
We wanted to take a look at three areas, that in our honest opinion, are holding this franchise back from being recognized as not only a fun title, but a title that serves the hardcore fan as well.
Game speed – If you’re a fan of the NFL these days, than you understand that today’s professional athlete in the league is bigger, stronger, and faster, but there is still a side of the NFL that has a slower simplicity to it. While the game itself does a decent job of replicating what one would see on Sunday(or Thursday and Monday) in terms of an individual athlete, the actual overall speed of the game plays out way too fast. The good folks over at EA Sports simply need to understand that while the athletes are faster, the game itself is not always at mach speed.
Quarterback Accuracy– This has been an issue almost the entire current generation of Madden, as apparently every quarterback in the NFL is either Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. In 2012 the Atlanta Falcons led the NFL in completion ratio at 68%, and only half of the teams in the league were actually in the 60% range. In Madden though(on default) even average quarterbacks throw routinely in the low to mid-60% range, and the better quarterbacks will often breach the 70% to 80% range. The types of in-completions in Madden are another issue, as they need to incorporate larger varieties of overthrows, underthrows, and passes behind and in front of the intended receiver. Not every incompletion in the NFL is an interception, a throw out of bounds, or a swatted pass, and EA has to recognize this fact.
Simulation stats – As a franchise lover myself, the simulation engine used in the Madden series is abysmal. Depending on the year, fans of the title may see an incessant amount of interceptions, non-existent run game, or quarterback sack totals that would rival Jerry Ball(Lions) back in the day of Tecmo Super Bowl. There are a variety of problems that plague the stat simulation engine that EA continues to use that can literally ruin the game for franchise lovers, and our hope is that EA recognizes and fixes this issue with the next generation of consoles.
There are obviously more issues with the Madden franchise than just the three we mentioned, but these three are pretty important. That’s not to say that Madden isn’t a fun franchise, but isn’t it possible to be fun and accurate at the same time?