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Madden 22 Franchise Mode: Improvements Are Only a Step in the Right Direction

Madden 22 franchise mode review

Madden NFL 22

Madden 22 Franchise Mode: Improvements Are Only a Step in the Right Direction

While franchise mode in Madden games had been stuck in a bit of a holding pattern in recent years without much in the way of new features or wrinkles, there was undoubtedly a shift that happened last year that provided some hope. With the community rallying behind the #FixMaddenFranchise hashtag on social media (inspired by our own contributor Brian Mazique), developers of the game were finally forced to take notice of the massive outcry and give some much-needed attention to the mode in the present and future, which started with Madden 21 and now leads us to Madden 22 franchise mode.

Of course, saying that there will be improvements and actually making those improvements are two very different things, so it’s completely understandable if you were still adopting a wait-and-see approach until it was evident just how much would change. But now that the wait is over and Madden 22 has been released, the time has now come to determine just how serious EA was about making big changes. We’re going to consider this a 1.0 review of sorts as we know the big scouting update in September is the next time we’ll really need to re-analyze Madden 22 franchise mode.

As someone who is the commissioner of a long-standing online franchise, I’m deeply invested in having meaningful changes made to the mode and have been encouraged by the ongoing discourse surrounding necessary improvements — and the fact that EA has invested some time and resources into accomplishing the goal. With that in mind, let’s go ahead and take a hard look at the current state of franchise mode in Madden 22 and scrutinize how much work has been put into making the entire experience better this year. This means analyzing what’s entirely new to the mode, what’s been improved or at least altered, and then also what’s still being overlooked or ignored at this point and could use further refining in future editions of Madden.

Madden 22 Franchise Mode Review

Madden 22 franchise mode

Game Preparation

One way Madden 22 franchise mode tries to set itself apart from previous years is by overhauling the way that you prepare for each matchup during the season. Previously, you would select one drill each from offense or defense to help upgrade your players, and you would only get the maximum amount of XP should you perform well in the drill (though you could choose to sim the same drill in the future for max XP, provided you completed it without mistakes once in the past). The system wasn’t great, especially since it had been around long enough to have grown stale years ago, and it was more of a chore than any sort of realistic representation of strategic progression.

Instead, there’s now a game plan focus that you’ll need to set for both offense and defense, allowing you to choose priorities like the deep pass or the inside run. You’ll also need to worry about your players’ health when deciding if practices should be in full pads for maximum XP or half pads to minimize potential injuries in practice. Plus, you can also choose to give more reps to your starters or backups.

A new game-plan goal for each week can allow you to accumulate staff points (more on those later) for completing certain objectives during the game, such as getting 5+ sacks or racking up 350+ yards passing. With this new system, you can still engage in free practice with your team, but there’s now no need to ever actually participate in any drills.

Though this new pregame training method certainly offers something different and has you making some decisions regarding preparation as you head into a game, it’s not exactly a giant leap forward compared to how things were before. Aside from making the call on who participates in practices and whether or not they will include pads, the idea of setting your focus on deep passes or stopping inside runs isn’t really all that different from how you would select certain drills before. Therefore, that makes these changes fall a little short of anything game-changing.

Coaching Trees

Madden 22 coaching trees

A new concept that’s been introduced in Madden 22‘s franchise mode is managing various members of your staff and using staff points that you earn throughout the season by completing objectives to add branches to their talent trees that will provide various bonuses and advantages. Depending on whether you’re adding to the talent tree of your head coach, offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, or player personnel, you’ll be able to accomplish things like increasing XP earned for certain players, boosting specific attributes for some positions, and even increasing the likelihood of some free agents signing with your team in the offseason.

It’s a welcomed addition to the mode because it at least attempts to provide a realistic representation of the impact that coaches can have on a team. On top of that, there are a lot of valuable items throughout the talent trees that you can unlock to make sure your team has the best chance of success in their games. The worry here though, especially in online franchises, would be that all of these boosts and upgrades that you can earn by adding to the talent tree could eventually transform the game into one where whoever has unlocked the most things will have a massive advantage — ultimately determining more about what happens on the field than anyone’s skills on the sticks.

Press Conferences & Player Interactions

Madden 22 franchise mode review

As someone who had grown to view the previous franchise home screen of your coach hanging out in his office as the very definition of throwing the entire franchise community an insignificant bone, it’s nice to see that the coach’s office is no more. In a way, you could view the new periodic press conferences and player/coach meetings that pop-up throughout the season as a form of an upgrade on the coach’s office. Instead of just seeing him sitting there doing nothing, now your coach will answer questions from the media and team concerning issues pertaining to anything from poor performance to early retirements of players to inclement weather in an upcoming game.

Though the simple this-or-that decisions you make in these interactions don’t seem to often have a massive tangible effect on your organization as a whole, they at least keep you a little more connected to the overall narrative of your season and are without question more dynamic than seeing a guy just sitting at a desk.

League News

Madden 22 online league

It may seem like more of a small cosmetic item compared to some of the other things mentioned here, but the addition of a couple of screens keeping you up-to-date on what’s going on around the league goes a long way towards staying connected to all of the stories happening in your franchise. This starts with a news feed that details all sorts of recent events, including scores of games, notable performances from players, and key injuries that might have occurred.

There’s now even a page that displays the week’s schedule and scores of any games that have already been played, saving you from having to seek this out from a menu like you had to in the past. You’ll also be able to see here who’s leading the league in a variety of statistical categories, so now you can see which players are having a stellar year and might be in the running for the MVP award at season’s end without needing to navigate and sort through all of these stats on your own.

Scouting

If you’re disappointed to find that the methods used to scout draft prospects coming out of college are the same old tired ones that we’ve now grown accustomed to for years now, there’s still reason for optimism because a new and improved way of scouting is expected to be coming soon courtesy of a patch. It’s naturally not exactly ideal for franchises to deal with the existing framework until this new method is ready to be unveiled, but at least we know what we have now is merely temporary.

Dev Breakout Scenarios

Madden 22 player meeting

One thing that unfortunately has not changed within franchise mode is the way that you will periodically be presented with opportunities to upgrade the dev traits of a player, meaning that you can take a player who currently develops at one rate (star, for example) and then get them to develop at a better rate (superstar, for example) so they can then become a better player faster. The way that you achieve this upgrade is by accomplishing some sort of statistical goal in a game, which has always seemed counterintuitive to how improvement actually happens in real life in my opinion.

Though I’m sure there are some who prefer striving for and then being rewarded for meeting goals, it flies in the face of my own feeling that players will have a good game because they got better rather than them becoming better players because they had a good game — as it works now. It also becomes an even larger issue in online franchises where the elite players are more likely to regularly receive dev upgrades for their players, thus ensuring that the disparity between them and the lesser players grows even larger.

Bottom Line

While it’s appreciated that EA heard the outcry of the #FixMaddenFranchise crowd and took steps to make improvements in areas that had obviously grown stagnant through neglect, the reality is that the mode was likely never going to be able to be completely fixed in just one game cycle. And though there are some signs here that the mode may be trending in the right direction, there are also still plenty of areas that could use attention beyond Madden 22.

This is hardly the kind of new coat of paint that has led to hollow upgrades like your coach sitting in his office, but it’s also not exactly the complete overhaul that many were clamoring for in the Madden community. The general layout and presentation has made some big strides this year. Still, some of the new ideas and mechanics introduced in Madden 22‘s franchise mode seem like they were really just a light massage of concepts that were already in place when more intensive and transformative work was needed to really make the mode feel like something entirely new and fresh.

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  1. Really good write up.
    "players will have a good game because they got better rather than them becoming better players because they had a good game"
    This echos how I think about franchise mode progression and the problem I've had with the XP system.
    Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk
    One thing that unfortunately has not changed within franchise mode is the way that you will periodically be presented with opportunities to upgrade the dev traits of a player, meaning that you can take a player who currently develops at one rate (star, for example) and then get them to develop at a better rate (superstar, for example) so they can then become a better player faster. The way that you achieve this upgrade is by accomplishing some sort of statistical goal in a game, which has always seemed counterintuitive to how improvement actually happens in real life in my opinion.
    Exactly how I feel on the issue.  Great write up overall and fair judgment of highlighting the positives while pointing out areas where they fall short.
    jrp1918
    Really good write up.
    "players will have a good game because they got better rather than them becoming better players because they had a good game"
    This echos how I think about franchise mode progression and the problem I've had with the XP system.
    Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk

    Both ways are "unrealistic" and I don't really think either one is more realistic than the other. I think the way they do it now makes the most sense. And players don't solely have a good game "because they got better." I can take a 60 OVR player and slot him into the starting lineup and feed him the ball and his stats will increase due to XP gains.
    If you sit an 80 OVR rookie and he gets no touches, that doesn't mean he isn't still an 80 OVR rookie that won't progress in practice.
    At the end of the day it's a video game and it's impossible to simulate real life "progression". The way they do it is fine imo.
    As for the actual writeup -- I'm so tired of hearing "it's a step in the right direction." I swear to god I've read that phrase for 20 years straight regarding Madden. It's called incremental improvements. Sports games have short dev cycles compared to regular AAA games that have multiple years of development; this means all new features and improvements are incremental and seem small, but when you skip a year or two, changes feel bigger.
    At this point I think Madden (and most sports franchises) should go to a free-to-play model. It blows my mind people pay $60 (or more) per year for the game and then pay additional to upgrade their MUT teams -- only for their teams to be arbitrarily reset 12 months later, rinse and repeat.
    Weird consumer psychology.
    threattonature
    One thing that unfortunately has not changed within franchise mode is the way that you will periodically be presented with opportunities to upgrade the dev traits of a player, meaning that you can take a player who currently develops at one rate (star, for example) and then get them to develop at a better rate (superstar, for example) so they can then become a better player faster. The way that you achieve this upgrade is by accomplishing some sort of statistical goal in a game, which has always seemed counterintuitive to how improvement actually happens in real life in my opinion.
    Exactly how I feel on the issue.* Great write up overall and fair judgment of highlighting the positives while pointing out areas where they fall short.

    Agreed. I would expect such a thing affects more how the player suddenly wants to be a diva, hold out for a contract negotiation, pull an A A Ron, etc. haha. Player ability increases might should be half goal related but more so in the context of this fatigue system they are trying to implement. As in, if a player can do more in expected lesser than scenarios - say you have the worst O line in the league, but you are a RB that's still tearing it up - that warrants leveling up or the gamer version of being a breakout player..?
    This game really needs holdouts. That's the thing that's missing from scenarios. Would rather have seen this than random retirements. It's a better mode but too much of it is offhands and the players still lack personality. They have personality traits but I don't think they amount to anything. I think they should have taken the gameplanning drills and put them before the preseason and let that stand in as the minicamp. Just a small way to earn a bit of xp and it's not something you wouldn't mind doing since it happens once a year rather than every game.
    It is a step in the right direction and I can see myself really enjoying franchise this year once the bugs get ironed out.
    Sent from my LM-G820 using Tapatalk
    Can you or anyone confirm if the OL and DL disparity/issue is still there? I went about 20 years deep and found consistently there are about 2 Superstar OL drafted in that time of every draft. And since they somehow think everyone gets better in a game except a OL, star OL never improved to a SS, and their were no xfactors. So you would have a draft class every year of 5 x factor pass rushers, 8 super stars, 20 stars, all of them get dev games, all improve after a good year, all DE or OLB.
    Meanwhile OL in the league are all high 70s and low 80s compared to high 90s pass rushers all over, and they are stuck with no way to improve. I have no idea why they think everyone improves in a single game except OL but I'd love to know there is at least better balance. We had a long standing online league and this issue broke it.
    If they aren't going to test this stuff, we should get sliders in our own leagues to fix what would be an easy problem.
    oneamongthefence
    This game really needs holdouts. That's the thing that's missing from scenarios.

    It would be great if this in one of the franchise updates this year!
    oneamongthefence
    This game really needs holdouts. That's the thing that's missing from scenarios. Would rather have seen this than random retirements. It's a better mode but too much of it is offhands and the players still lack personality. They have personality traits but I don't think they amount to anything. I think they should have taken the gameplanning drills and put them before the preseason and let that stand in as the minicamp. Just a small way to earn a bit of xp and it's not something you wouldn't mind doing since it happens once a year rather than every game.
    It is a step in the right direction and I can see myself really enjoying franchise this year once the bugs get ironed out.
    Sent from my LM-G820 using Tapatalk

    Holdouts would be really hard to program in a realistic way, kind of like what we’ve seen with these random retirements. Almost feels scripted and I believe holdouts would be the same way.
    I would like to see it, it would be nice if they could do it well but I just think more people would be frustrated with it than they would be happy.
    kehlis
    Holdouts would be really hard to program in a realistic way, kind of like what we’ve seen with these random retirements. Almost feels scripted and I believe holdouts would be the same way.
    I would like to see it, it would be nice if they could do it well but I just think more people would be frustrated with it than they would be happy.

    The NFL and NFLPA also effectively did away with holdouts in the most recent collective bargaining agreement. The fines issued to a player withholding services from a club are draconian and excessive, the CBA requires teams enforce those fines on players with unexcused absences, and the CBA prevents clubs from rescinding those fines. Players on rookie contracts also are entirely barred from negotiating contract extension until after they accrue three years of league service, if I recall correctly.
    Players who want new contracts such as Jamal Adams or Xavien Howard now "hold in", where they go to practice and play games but are actively grumpy hahaha. I think EA could add hold-ins with the Scenario Engine via the application of a ratings penalty - maybe tie that penalty to a player's dev trait increasing at the end of the season in combination with the player's Unpredictable or Spontaneous personality trait - until the player receives a new contract or is moved to a new team's roster, but I also think that requires a better contract system in Madden franchise mode first.
    JimmyK
    Can you or anyone confirm if the OL and DL disparity/issue is still there? I went about 20 years deep and found consistently there are about 2 Superstar OL drafted in that time of every draft. And since they somehow think everyone gets better in a game except a OL, star OL never improved to a SS, and their were no xfactors. So you would have a draft class every year of 5 x factor pass rushers, 8 super stars, 20 stars, all of them get dev games, all improve after a good year, all DE or OLB.
    Meanwhile OL in the league are all high 70s and low 80s compared to high 90s pass rushers all over, and they are stuck with no way to improve. I have no idea why they think everyone improves in a single game except OL but I'd love to know there is at least better balance. We had a long standing online league and this issue broke it.
    If they aren't going to test this stuff, we should get sliders in our own leagues to fix what would be an easy problem.
    Not excusing, but I'm pretty sure O-line not progressing is tied to the XP system relying on what stats players put up. O-linemen don't have any stats besides games played, sacks allowed and pancakes so they don't progress.
    Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk
    jrp1918
    Not excusing, but I'm pretty sure O-line not progressing is tied to the XP system relying on what stats players put up. O-linemen don't have any stats besides games played, sacks allowed and pancakes so they don't progress.

    Offensive linemen have always earned XP in games based on downs played and team offensive output (rushing yards, passing yards, offensive touchdowns, dynamic drive goals, milestone goals).
    In addition, Madden 22 has changed XP payouts so that every player on the team earns XP in practice, unlike past Madden games where only two position groups on each side of the ball got practice XP each week.
    According to some preliminary research in the Franchise XP slider threads I'm perusing, some are reporting that OL progression in M22 makes the player population at those positions outpace what exists on the stock game roster. So the opposite problem might exist in M22.
    jrp1918
    Really good write up.
    "players will have a good game because they got better rather than them becoming better players because they had a good game"
    This echos how I think about franchise mode progression and the problem I've had with the XP system.
    Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk

    Absolutely this. If I could have two wishes in Madden the first would be fuzzy ratings (seeing a range where a guy’s ratings are that tightens the more you scout him) and reworked progression.
    Reps should matter some. But not stat based progression. It’s totally backward.
    CM Hooe
    Offensive linemen have always earned XP in games based on downs played and team offensive output (rushing yards, passing yards, offensive touchdowns, dynamic drive goals, milestone goals).
    In addition, Madden 22 has changed XP payouts so that every player on the team earns XP in practice, unlike past Madden games where only two position groups on each side of the ball got practice XP each week.
    According to some preliminary research in the Franchise XP slider threads I'm perusing, some are reporting that OL progression in M22 makes the player population at those positions outpace what exists on the stock game roster. So the opposite problem might exist in M22.

    I was talking about their development specifically more than the XP. In short, there were way too many elite pass rushers every draft(SS's and xfactors in the high 70s and low 80s) and 0 elite OL. That issue gets compounded when a) OL can't earn development games and b) OL can't improve their development under any circumstances even after a pro bowl season. On the flip, pass rushers get multiple development games sometimes as a rookie, so even on non controlled teams it got way out of wack.
    I haven't played franchise yet on 22 obviously but I was hoping they found a way around this.
    To be clear,pretty much everyone replying likes this game & only sim the actual games?
    Only mostly negative one was from a person who appears to play the game?
    I played the demo,felt like same game as madden 17(I still play that one,for roster reasons & because Madden is pretty much the same except they added the running quarterback in Madden 21,thanks to Lamar Jackson).
    Its kinda strange to watch,read negative reviews then come to operationsports and see mostly positive reviews,or ea making the game better post.
    I mostly enjoyed the original post, and madden still good,hence why I still play madden 17. But it definitely needs a complete over haul.
    JimmyK
    I was talking about their development specifically more than the XP. In short, there were way too many elite pass rushers every draft(SS's and xfactors in the high 70s and low 80s) and 0 elite OL. That issue gets compounded when a) OL can't earn development games and b) OL can't improve their development under any circumstances even after a pro bowl season. On the flip, pass rushers get multiple development games sometimes as a rookie, so even on non controlled teams it got way out of wack.
    I haven't played franchise yet on 22 obviously but I was hoping they found a way around this.

    I go in draft class. Scroll to OL and randomly pick a T, G and C and change them to a SS or Xfactor
    I try and not peek at names. But at my age I wouldn’t remember them anyway.
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports
    RobotRosKO
    To be clear,pretty much everyone replying likes this game & only sim the actual games?
    Only mostly negative one was from a person who appears to play the game?
    I played the demo,felt like same game as madden 17(I still play that one,for roster reasons & because Madden is pretty much the same except they added the running quarterback in Madden 21,thanks to Lamar Jackson).
    Its kinda strange to watch,read negative reviews then come to operationsports and see mostly positive reviews,or ea making the game better post.
    I mostly enjoyed the original post, and madden still good,hence why I still play madden 17. But it definitely needs a complete over haul.

    I think the vast majority of people on this board play the games out.
    Ok thanks for clarifying.
    Yeah I love madden 17 so 22 is just as good. I'm just not into scouting and assistant coaching hires. And use classic rosters so no need for the updated scrambling they added a few years back.
    But I agree the game is good.
    malky
    Franchise presentation needs better immersion as well

    Hence the addition of press conferences and news reel. Of course it has miles to go. But unless you mean in game presentation, some upgrades have been made, minor as they are.
    RobotRosKO
    To be clear,pretty much everyone replying likes this game & only sim the actual games?
    Only mostly negative one was from a person who appears to play the game?
    I played the demo,felt like same game as madden 17(I still play that one,for roster reasons & because Madden is pretty much the same except they added the running quarterback in Madden 21,thanks to Lamar Jackson).
    Its kinda strange to watch,read negative reviews then come to operationsports and see mostly positive reviews,or ea making the game better post.
    I mostly enjoyed the original post, and madden still good,hence why I still play madden 17. But it definitely needs a complete over haul.

    I question your powers of observation, or at least your chosen measurement unit, because there’s quite the difference in gameplay even on last gen between 17 and 21.
    fballturkey
    Absolutely this. If I could have two wishes in Madden the first would be fuzzy ratings (seeing a range where a guy’s ratings are that tightens the more you scout him) and reworked progression.
    Reps should matter some. But not stat based progression. It’s totally backward.

    Just let me go into the options menu in franchise and select a ratings scale. 1-100 or 2-8. If I'm looking at my roster and one guy shows 92 speed, and the other has 88, I'm always playing the 92. If they both showed as 7, I'm really gonna have to 'scout' these guys in preseason games and see who I like.
    CM Hooe
    The NFL and NFLPA also effectively did away with holdouts in the most recent collective bargaining agreement. The fines issued to a player withholding services from a club are draconian and excessive, the CBA requires teams enforce those fines on players with unexcused absences, and the CBA prevents clubs from rescinding those fines. Players on rookie contracts also are entirely barred from negotiating contract extension until after they accrue three years of league service, if I recall correctly.
    Players who want new contracts such as Jamal Adams or Xavien Howard now "hold in", where they go to practice and play games but are actively grumpy hahaha. I think EA could add hold-ins with the Scenario Engine via the application of a ratings penalty - maybe tie that penalty to a player's dev trait increasing at the end of the season in combination with the player's Unpredictable or Spontaneous personality trait - until the player receives a new contract or is moved to a new team's roster, but I also think that requires a better contract system in Madden franchise mode first.

    I like this "hold-in" idea. It would really add to the realism for contract negotiations IMO. I could be mistaken with another sports title, but at one point didn't Madden have a "character" rating on each player? Maybe like Madden 25 or around there?
    Regardless, that'd be awesome. Honestly I wish there was more penalty to the team for players being unhappy with their contracts (or any unhappiness at all with contracts). Perhaps locking the players progression until a new contract is received or something, idk.
    Gritblitzer
    I like this "hold-in" idea. It would really add to the realism for contract negotiations IMO. I could be mistaken with another sports title, but at one point didn't Madden have a "character" rating on each player? Maybe like Madden 25 or around there?
    Regardless, that'd be awesome. Honestly I wish there was more penalty to the team for players being unhappy with their contracts (or any unhappiness at all with contracts). Perhaps locking the players progression until a new contract is received or something, idk.

    Players in all the recent Madden games have a personality trait - you can see it in each player’s Player Card. Been there since Madden 19, I think.
    However, I think right now that trait only affects whether a player will terminate in-season contract negotiations after the first bad offer and (separately) whether a veteran player will retire early before he regresses enough to age out otherwise.

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