After three straight incompletions, Madden NFL 10 was a miraculous fourth down conversion on par with Donovan McNabb to Freddie Mitchell in the Eagles' famous "fourth and twenty-six."
The very next play, Madden NFL 11, featured major locomotion changes which enabled zig-zag running and broke Madden's gameplay balance, making Madden NFL 11 comparable to a botched Barry Sanders run which loses a dozen yards zig-zagging in the backfield.
Madden NFL 12 and Madden NFL 13 were minimal gains, serving little purpose beyond setting up the inevitable coffin corner punt that is Madden NFL 25.
The next generation of Madden stands ready to return EA Tiburon's punt. Madden NFL 25 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One takes the field this November, facing another long drive that will begin with lousy field position, backed up against its own end zone.
NCAA was good but not great this prior generation.
EA Sports is dealing not from a position of strength going into the next-generation, but instead from a position of "prove it". There was a time when I was beginning to get excited about a PS 4/Xbox One Madden. After reading about a fully featured next-gen Madden NFL 25 with the improvements to AI and blocking that should be possible on the next consoles, I was beginning to sell myself on the idea of major improvement.
But after playing both the demo and the full version of Madden NFL 25 on XBOX 360, I'm more convinced than ever that we're not going to get a drastically changed experience due to the limitations created by the way that EA Sports views professional football. Actually, there are two things which bother me. The technical limitations of the Tiburon engine which currently exists and the lack of an "Everything you see on Sunday" vision which once existed in the game.
I'd agree with many critical sentiments which say this generation of Madden peaked with Madden NFL 10. Since then we've lost a lot of presentation elements, fight for the fumble, pro-tak, and numerous other little things. It feels like we've regressed in this generation and I don't see how Madden NFL 25 puts EA Sports in the position to sell gamers on the PS4 and Xbox One experience for the same game.
I'm heading into November more skeptical than I've been at any point. That doesn't bode well for how the just released Madden NFL 25 has negatively affected perception of the brand and the excitement for the game. The onus is clearly on EA Sports to prove to me that come November, things will be VERY different.
I'm not a Madden or NCAA hater, I actually enjoy each title for what they are - a fun game of digital football, but neither title is a true simulation of the sport. I purchase each game every year and I have a realistic mindset and level of expectation when doing so, and that is why I can find enjoyment in playing them.
I am willing to overlook this whole generation of football, and chalk it up to a bad engine and poor design decisions early on. My hope is that with the supposed ease of developing on the upcoming generation of consoles, we will see quite an improvement and some corrections to the glaring issues each title is dealing with in their current state.
The clock will start ticking on EA starting in November when Madden comes out for the PS4 and and Xbox one. While there is no other alternative option for fans of football to currently turn to, it could mean they will simply stop turning towards their wallet to purchase either title. The upgraded graphical enhancements may be enough to get by in year one on the next generation of consoles - for the masses at least. However EA share-holders could be in for a financial shock in year two if the same problems plague each game again.
The next-gen football games will have to be better, there is no doubt about that.
Chris Sanner: Both Madden and NCAA Football had interesting tales this generation of consoles. NCAA ended up staying in a consistent area where it teetered on greatness but never quite got there, all while managing to innovate in a huge way with Online Dynasty.
Madden, on the other hand, started off so poorly, it has been trying to play catch up for the past few years. It didn't help big features were introduced one year and then almost completely taken out of the game the next -- consumers aren't stupid and saw a lack of vision for the game long term.
The past several years, it felt like EA has gotten their stuff together with some real direction and vision for the products. Things still aren't perfect, as the EA Football engine does have long-time nagging legacy issues -- but both NCAA and Madden are still far and away the best playing football games on the market.
Of course it also helps being the only major licensed football games on the market as well.
There are plenty of areas of improvement for next gen, but both series have a chance to take the next step on the next-generation of consoles. I'm not expecting an effort to knock things out of the park out of the gate -- no launch titles do that. But solid leaps forward in most every aspect is far from too much to ask on a football launch title.