Madden NFL 24
Madden 24 Rumors: A Little Too Quiet...
Regardless of the time of year (and the quality of Madden itself), OS folks are always looking ahead to some extent. Whether that’s a Lucy pulling the football situation or just the eternal optimist shining through in some folks is up for debate, but there is some chatter on the forums about a lack of news and rumors about Madden 24. It is fair to say it’s a little too quiet to some extent (just in terms of the lack of rumors if anything), but we’re still not at the moment in time where EA starts giving us news about the next Madden.
When June hits, that’s when the Madden news begins. But returning to the point about the lack of rumors, there’s not a ton to point to as of now. Before news started to hit last year, there were a lot of rumors about franchise mode, crossplay, how EA would honor John Madden, Madden coming to the Nintendo Switch, and Madden maybe replicating some tech that came to FIFA (HyperSense). We did end up getting franchise updates (albeit not as massive as maybe hoped), John Madden was on the cover of the game he pioneered, and FieldSense was a stand in for HyperMotion. In other words, it was a pretty standard year for being about 50 percent on the biggest rumors coming to fruition.
However, FIFA doesn’t have any major gameplay element that could be adopted by Madden this year (at least nothing that was introduced in FIFA 23), and we haven’t heard anything about the development of Madden 24 beyond EA’s announcement of the closed beta and how those impacted by the cloud franchise issue in Madden 23 are getting an invite to that beta and half off Madden 24 (if they choose to purchase it). Again, to some extent this is business as usual. The beta hits in June — soon after EA shows off Madden for the first time — and the media blitz goes on from there.
Still, it’s been a little strange during this “offseason” for Madden because MUT really hit a wall and angered even more people than usual these last couple months. And while we still ended up getting NFL Draft content within MUT, there was not the same hoopla or excitement around it either. In the grand scheme of things, that’s a small matter, but EA is definitely in another transition period. New tech isn’t on the horizon but EA Sports College Football is a year out at this point. It did get delayed a full year but the train is on the tracks and how EA as a company is going to get back to handling two football games a year is going to be interesting. The last time they were dealing with that was also at a time when the studio was going through a lot of changes and expansion with the transition from PS3/Xbox 360 to PS4/Xbox One. Things ended up playing out the way they did and NCAA Football was soon cancelled but it’s been a long time since EA could point to any of its football games as being the “flagship” sports game for the company.
Madden has been battered in reviews the last 3-4 years, and it’s lucky if it even makes it to a 70 percent on any of the major review aggregation sites these days. As much as sales obviously matter more than reviews, that’s still a problem. It’s not just a Madden problem either as sports games overall have been taken to the woodshed by reviewers the last couple years. I’m not sure if that’s people actually being fed up with the games or it’s publications finally just getting reviewers who are sports fans to review those games. It’s not really my job to figure that aspect out, I just think it’s interesting to note that it’s now surprising when a major sports game breaks 80 percent on these aggregation sites while for many years it was almost stunning when something like NBA 2K didn’t have at least an 80+ on those same sites.
Perhaps that’s why one of the only rumors we’ve seen populate various sites is about it supposedly being a big year for Madden in terms of critical reception. If you’re judging this franchise purely by its sales, it’s doing just fine. It was third on the 2022 NPD list behind only Elden Ring and Modern Warfare 2, and while maybe it didn’t reach quite the levels at launch as it did just the year prior, there are no major red flags that have been relayed to the public on the sales front. Again, MUT fans seem especially angry this year so it’s possible microtransactions are down there, but in terms of people just buying the game, that’s not a problem.
But Madden is also in the lead when it comes to public apologies. Now, you could say “good on them for apologizing when some other companies might not” and that’s true to an extent. Still, you only have to apologize if you mess up real bad, and EA keeps messing up real bad. There’s a new MUT apology like every other week, we’ve had multiple years of apologies about franchise mode, and this year was even more awkward for EA when the media blitz was in part about how “polished” this Madden would be and then it was anything but that.
This is all to say while competition from the outside is not on the horizon, EA has to support two football games going forward. If one or both are bad, it’s going to ask a lot from consumers to support both year after year. The college football game will have that grace period where people buy it simply because they’re just excited to have it back in their lives, but that is fleeting. Years ago, there was absolutely a split that started to happen where some just simply stopped buying both and went with one or the other — and on OS I think it did lean more towards the college game winning out.
But regardless of which side you ended up on, if you have two football games that are panned by critics year after year hitting in the summer, it’s not going to be sustainable for EA. So while the lack of Madden 24 rumors is curious on some level, quality does seem like it’s going to matter more here because time is running out for Madden in some ways, even if those ways are just internal pressures. The bottom line is take the lack of rumors however you want, but it does seem like this will be a big year for the franchise as it will be the last year it’s the only major football game in town.