Madden NFL 22
Madden 22's Broken Promises Impact Franchise Users Once Again
This year was supposed to be different for Madden 22 and its franchise mode. With over a year to respond to the growing outcries from the community that saw #FixMaddenFranchise become a trending topic on Twitter, the hope was that Madden 22 might finally be the entry in the series that would address some of people’s top complaints and concerns. But with the recent release of an underwhelming update that only added some superficial scenarios that could potentially pop up over the course of a season without touching any of the fundamental issues that need attention, it’s becoming harder now to see any light at the end of this tunnel. While EA may technically be fulfilling its promises by continuing to make updates and additions to franchise mode, it’s readily apparent that these are lagging behind the innovations of other (more lucrative) modes. In other words, these late updates are ending up as the developmental equivalent of lip service.
That said, if anyone was honestly thinking this latest update was going to be anything major was setting yourself up for disappointment. And while this article is for all intents and purposes a rant, it’s not unfair to say the game is fun in a general sense but also a massive disappointment.
Regardless, how did we get to this point and what can be done now to get the revitalization of Madden‘s franchise mode back on track? To help break it all down, let’s go back and review all of the recent events that have led us to where we are now in the hopes of learning more about where and when things went wrong. Then we’ll delve into the details of the latest update, and why it did so little to alleviate the fears of the Madden community concerning how slow progress is happening. Finally, we’ll assess what areas need to become top priorities for EA going forward if they want to begin to earn back the trust of the community and meet the expectations of what most want from a franchise mode.
Madden 22 Franchise Mode
How We Got Here
As any good investigator knows, a key phrase to always bear in mind when trying to get to the bottom of anything is “follow the money.” In the case of Madden‘s franchise, it’s safe to say there’s been a strong correlation between its stagnation and the rise of microtransactions within Madden Ultimate Team. While MUT grew in popularity and became a valuable revenue stream to EA, the franchise mode became more and more neglected, receiving fairly minor and superficial changes year after year. It was likely so much easier to ignore the committed group of franchise players screaming for some attention when EA was up to its ears with MUT money and the franchise mode wasn’t adding anything extra to the pile of cash.
Then came that aforementioned trending hashtag in the summer of 2020 and the push for wholesale updates to franchise finally appeared to be gaining some traction and getting EA’s attention. There were assurances from representatives of EA that franchise mode had not been forgotten and promises that the mode would be receiving worthwhile changes in the near future. Because this all happened so close to the release of Madden 21, the belief was that although it was probably too late to see any huge improvements to that year’s game, Madden 22 would likely be where we would really start to see some changes getting made.
But aside from some small additions and upgrades like the coaching trees, the franchise mode in Madden 22 couldn’t help but be disappointing to anyone who played the mode regularly because it still looked and felt so much like the same one devs had been tinkering with and repainting for the better part of the last decade. EA tried to get out in front of any criticism by announcing that there were three planned updates to the franchise mode that would be unveiled in patches in the coming days. Online franchises were then forced to spend time debating whether or not to wait for an update to scouting that was slated to be part of the first update, with many leagues ultimately deciding to postpone kickoff until whenever it arrived.
They would end up waiting all the way until the middle of October, when EA finally released a patch that introduced the new way of scouting. Even then, many who had decided to wait couldn’t help but wonder whether the new way of scouting actually qualified as an upgrade at all on the old system.
Regardless, there were still two more franchise updates to come and surely those would end up being worth the wait since they were taking even longer with those.
So we waited.
And we waited.
Then we waited some more.
With December looming and still no word of a second franchise update, a report from SportsGamersOnline claimed that not only would there would be no forthcoming second update but there would be no further franchise enhancements at all from EA for Madden 22. EA took a couple of days to refute this story, indicating that the plans of releasing two more franchise updates had not changed and everyone just needed to be a little more patient. After all, it had only been about four months since the game was released by that point. By the time we hit March of 2022 on the calendar, it was getting difficult to believe EA would make good on that update — or for anyone to even remember that there was one planned considering the Super Bowl had already been played a month ago.
The eternal optimist might look at this all and say, “If it’s taken them this long to release the second franchise update, then they must have something really awesome up their sleeves, right?”
Where We Are Now
As it turns out, not so much. After months of holding our collective breath and hoping for the best, the update finally arrived a couple of weeks ago and it was definitely more of a whimper than a bang. The headlining item to the update would have to be the five new scenarios that could potentially occur over the course of a season, which consist of things like bolstering your offensive line or deciding if you would rather focus on the run or the pass when going up against one of the league’s best defenses. Another one of the scenarios sees you choosing whether to blame the offensive line or the quarterback following a game in which your team yielded a high number of sacks.
The fact that it took so long to come up with a handful of incredibly rudimentary scenarios has to be read as either an admission of neglect on the part of EA, or an indictment of the developers’ abilities (or their tools) if we’re to understand that this is all they can conjure in that span of time. Considering how often MUT gets updated with all sorts of new programs, cards, and currencies, it’s ludicrous to expect that people will believe what’s being touted here is anything even remotely substantial. Instead, what it feels like is that franchise players have yet again been thrown a proverbial bone at the same time they’re looking over the fence at MUT players and seeing them practically swimming in bones. In fact, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if bones suddenly become the newest form of currency introduced in MUT next week.
The big question looming over this entire update that will likely never be answered unless someone wants to risk being sued is whether or not this update would have been released at all if not for that report that no further updates were in the pipeline. Is it possible that EA was prepared to wait it out until the end of Madden 22‘s cycle before having a fire ignited under them by the palpable anger from the franchise community that accompanied that report? This could help explain the slapdash feel of an update that has arrived about a month after the Super Bowl, when many Madden players have already lost their passion for football and are prepared to move on to other games.
Either way, it’s hard to not view the announcement at the game’s release that there would be three franchise updates as something of a classic bait-and-switch in retrospect. Without question, they enticed many people who play Madden for the franchise mode into purchasing Madden 22 with the promise that franchise would become more of a priority, and then they promptly put it on the back-burner. Whether this was intentional or not, it’s the kind of betrayal that has consequences, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see some franchise players walk away from Madden completely now because they feel like they will never be able to trust anything EA says regarding franchise mode again.
A Look Ahead
First things first: the expectations now for that third and final franchise update, if and when it ever actually materializes, could not possibly be any lower now. Will that arrive in June? July? By the time that third update drops, will anyone even be able to finish playing a single season in franchise before Madden 23 is released? It wouldn’t be all that shocking if all that final update included is a couple of new playbooks and one new scenario where you decide whether to yell at your kicker for missing a field goal or coddling him instead. The franchise community will no doubt be livid, but EA will say how they fulfilled their promise of releasing three updates since they never said anything initially about when they would be released and what they would contain. In other words, “We said there would be updates, but we never said anything about them being good updates.”
Since it’s pretty much unanimous that these were not the changes the community was hoping to see in franchise mode, it’s probably worth exploring what kind of improvements people would actually like to have happen in the future, considering most of these will probably not be made in this year’s final update. Here’s just a sampling of some of the larger issues that require some attention going forward if the franchise mode in Madden is ever going to be able to satisfy the demands of a community that has felt ignored (and more recently placated) for too long now.
- A complete overhaul of the tired development trait system used by Madden for too long now in which all players adhere to four rigid tiers of normal, star, superstar, or superstar X-Factor. Anyone who watches football at any level will be able to tell you that every single player develops at a slightly different rate and there’s no reason Madden can’t reflect that within what they claim to be a simulation.
- A trade finder tool that takes its cue from NBA 2K22 by allowing you to view offers from around the league for both individual players and packages of players. While they’re at it, further refine the AI trade logic to have CPU teams properly value players and picks.
- The ability to create your own teams, from the logos and uniforms to the design and layout of the stadium, and then re-align the teams and divisions within the league as desired.
- Further refinements to the scouting system that put more of an emphasis on draft storylines and provide more ways to determine the upsides and downsides of players prior to to draft day. The old scouting system was obviously flawed, but the new system doesn’t give you enough to do throughout the season to consider it all that much of an upgrade.
These are just the tip of the iceberg though really. The point is that there are plenty of areas within Madden 22‘s franchise mode that are definitely in need of improvement if they were to choose to actually make it a priority rather than simply telling people that it’s a priority. EA has done nothing but erode the trust of the community with their handling of franchise mode in Madden 22 throughout the game’s cycle. First, they let a lot of people down by not making the kind of major changes many were expecting when the game was initially released. From there, they made matters worse by promising updates to the mode that were less impactful than desired and have taken far too long to come out. When it comes to the third and final update, that remains to be seen, but it would have to take something shockingly substantial at this point to even begin to convince those in the franchise community that EA has any intention of investing in the mode.