madden nfl 23 franchise mode broken

Madden 23 Franchise Mode Is Actually Broken

The words “broken” and “game breaking” are thrown around a lot in our community and elsewhere. They’re overused and tend to lose their meaning in a lot of contexts. However, I think this is the right year to pull those words out for Madden 23 franchise mode because, well, Madden 23 franchise mode is broken. The irony here is that it’s not even the most broken mode in the game. Face of the Franchise remains busted after year one, and we talked about that in a recent article after Patch #3. Either way, my guess is a lot more people play franchise mode than Face of the Franchise, and so more people might run into this bug — just maybe not after one season.

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Madden 23 Franchise Mode Is Broken

Madden NFL 23 Franchise Mode

This is an article I’ve wanted to write for a couple weeks now, but I wanted to wait until after the patch and then also see what EA’s response would be. Since it feels like we’re at a standstill for now, I want to dig into the franchise mode issues, and the issues that go beyond that mode as well because this isn’t just a franchise mode issue for Madden 23. It has been a miserable time for the majority of folks in multiple modes at various points, and it’s not a great look.

With that in mind, I want to start with a post by OS user CM Hooe because he gets at the major issues that tie most of these problems together (at least for me):

I personally have a high tolerance level for dumb things happening in sports video games at various levels and strive to find workarounds to keep the game enjoyable for me year-round. However, I draw a hard line at bugs which impact my ability to make sustained progress through the game.

The Madden community has thrown the word “game killer” around a bunch over the years at issues of varying level of severity, the various complaints ranging from the totally legitimate to utterly ridiculous. I submit that there are at least four actual “game killer” bugs in Madden NFL 23.

  • Cloud Franchise mode draft infinite loop
  • Offline Franchise mode save data corruption after several years
  • Ultimate Team progress resets of various flavors (ex. Field Pass progress rewinding, Monster Maker account locks, general progression rewinding)
  • Face Of The Franchise not playable past one season

Literally every major mode on offer in Madden 23 except The Yard has a major progression-blocking issue. The actual lost progress I have endured recently with my online Franchise, and the threat of lost progress looming over any potential future time investment into the game, has absolutely destroyed any patience I usually offer Madden every year.

Tiburon has a lot of work to do to win back the trust of the many Madden NFL early adopters who run online leagues, create Franchise vlogs, stream MUT pack openings, or otherwise promote for free a game they otherwise want to enjoy. On the field, I actually find that Madden 23 is a joy to play, but the major issues surrounding every major gameplay mode has me considering putting it on the shelf for good. If my progress in the game isn’t going to be maintained, why do I even bother?

I really hope that this fundamental issue of rebuilding trust between players and the game’s ability to reliably save and load progress is something that media outlets hammer Tiburon about in Madden 24 and EA Sports College Football preview media access next year. I need to know that these upcoming football games are at the very least going to respect my time if I’m going to play them at all.

With CM’s post being the “thesis” of sorts for the rest of this article, let’s dig more into everything here and why the franchise mode bugs this year are so frustrating.

Progression Issues

Madden NFL 23 progression issue

I do want to at least commend EA for mentioning the issues (at least some of them) right now impacting franchise mode. They shared their priorities for franchise mode in a post a couple weeks ago, and they were as follows:

  • Draft Stability issues in Franchise Mode: The Draft Stability (aka “draft revert”) issue affecting some users is being diagnosed and addressed as soon as possible.
  • 32nd user unable to join a league. This is also being diagnosed and addressed as soon as possible.
  • Resolved: Smaller percentage of disconnects around contract negotiations in Face of the Franchise.

Transparency is key, and it’s not something EA is very good at a lot of the time, which is also part of the problem this cycle. When I mention progression issues, this isn’t related to how your players develop, rather it’s the fact that many people just can’t progress in their franchise after a certain number of years — and the files will even regress. Content creator Bengal highlighted this very issue in one of his latest videos. He’s someone who relies on franchise mode to make his YouTube channel what it is today, and he’s been bodied by this bug.

He does a good job explaining what’s happened to his franchise, but the point is he can’t progress. He’s stuck at the NFL Draft and is basically hosed. This is the “draft revert” issue that EA wants to fix, but this is something that should not need to be fixed in November. This game came out in August. It’s a brutal bug, and it’s not clear when it will happen, which makes it even more stressful. It seems most likely to happen starting around Year 4, but I have seen reports of it happening sooner, and then sometimes it happens somewhat later. However, it seems likely you will hit it at some point and thus the idea of a 30-year franchise is not really feasible.

Now, it’s fair to say the percentage of users who will ever play a 30-year franchise — let alone even a 4-6 year franchise — is a small percentage compared to those who will only play a single season or maybe 2-3. Regardless, it does not change the fact that EA has shipped a game with a mode that can’t actually live up to its goal of building a dynasty over the long haul. It doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, but that’s almost worse because you know your fun has a ticking time bomb attached to it.

This is also not the only issue that can crop up with franchise mode. There is a longstanding crash/delete of your franchise file that can happen around years 5-8, and that’s been in the game for at least three years now — it’s just incredibly hard to diagnose, which is why it’s harder to pinpoint and explain than something like a “draft revert” that happens to a lot more people at the same specific time.

Online Franchise

The thing is, online franchise mode users (and Face of the Franchise users) probably say “you got off easy” offline players. The fact that you can at least play some seasons in offline franchise mode is much better than the issues with large online franchises where it’s very likely you will get the “draft revert” right from the start. Here, the general issue is you go into a fantasy draft with a bunch of users and at some point it will glitch out. This can happen on pick 5, or pick 55, or any other pick. The truly cruel thing is sometimes you can’t simulate to the end, so you’ll wait for the draft timer to run through everyone overnight, do your preseason moves, go to Week 1, and then all the sudden it will revert back to the start of preseason.

Fun.

This means since launch it’s been nearly impossible to play a CFM online under certain parameters. Now, as a long-time veteran of both Madden and NBA 2K online franchise modes, I can tell you there have been some years where NBA 2K‘s online franchise mode is broken all year as well. The issue with that mode in the past was the offseason would just not work right, and you’d have to do some crazy workarounds or just give up and accept that really it was an online season mode and not an online franchise mode.

In other words, I’m lenient to a degree with these online modes because sometimes these studios just don’t get a handle on it, but with Madden the point is you can’t even really start the online CFM.

“Most Polished Version In Long Time”

Folks are all too eager to bring up Madden developer Clint Oldenburg’s pre-launch quote about polish being a top priority this cycle, which came from an interview with IGN/Kat Bailey:

“We are very confident that our game for Madden 23 is going to be the most polished version of Madden that we’ve had in a long time,” Oldenburg says. “What I’m not going to say is it’s going to be perfect, but I am going to say that the team is still striving to reach perfection, as hard as that may be to reach. That is what our goal is. Polish is our top priority, and we know that we cannot reach our goals if our players believe that our game is a buggy experience.”

Yeah, not ideal. However, I will say Clint was more talking about the gameplay experience, and I do think it’s fair to say Madden 23 stands out from a lot of its predecessors on the field this year. And depending on where you stand on the INT bug — and, again, I would say that was more a sliders-not-working issue than anything else — I wouldn’t say the developers missed their mark if it’s just about gameplay.

But that’s not really the game you can play here because MUT, Face of the Franchise, and franchise mode all have progression bugs that crush you and also put the fear of the unknown into our cold gamer hearts.

Fear Of The Unknown

And the fear of the unknown is the toughest part of all of this. If I’m having fun playing a game, I don’t want to have in the back of my mind the very real expiration date on that fun that lingers in the distance. After all, I would posit that there are not many worse feelings in sports gaming than drafting a once-in-a-generation talent in your franchise mode and then losing the ability to ever use him because your draft freezes or reverts.

It sucks. This all sucks.

Bottom Line

All of this brings us back to CM’s final point about trust and the future. Say what you will about Madden‘s franchise mode, but it goes to a whole other level when it comes to a college football dynasty mode. If EA Sports wants its college football game to succeed, this absolutely can’t happen next summer when EA Sports College Football releases. Not only are online dynasty modes much more popular, but I’m also confident people play many more seasons on average in dynasty mode than they do in the pro game’s franchise mode.

Transparency, realistic goals, and making sure that promises are kept all matter here. If dynasty mode is meant to go 30 years, it better be able to go 30 years next summer. Otherwise, we got a big problem on our hands, and at that point EA’s words will be nothing more than platitudes.

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Author
Chase Becotte
Chase has written at Operation Sports for over 10 years, and he's been playing sports games way longer than that. He loves just about any good sports game but gravitates to ones that coincide with the ongoing real seasons of the NBA, NHL, MLB, NFL, and so on. As of now, he's gearing up for EA Sports College Football 25 and what should be a wild summer while still dabbling in the latest Top Spin and MLB The Show.