Finally, after about a month of sitting and waiting to find out what would be changed to franchise mode, we have our answers. On Monday, EA posted the changes and updates that were coming to franchise mode for this year, as well as next year. A few weeks ago, I posted my thoughts on what I thought should be added and changed in the game, which you can read here.
In the announcement, though things were listed as being changed or added, surrounding those additions were phrases such as “while we can’t commit to an exact timeline now…”, and “subject to change”, and “while not fully committed yet…” which is a bit of a red flag. Even with those phrases, it now has been announced that they are making changes, so if things don’t change, the franchise fanbase will be coming back more fierce than they currently are. Another red flag is that this announcement comes just a few days after 2K reportedly reached an agreement with the NFL to start making games again.
In the article EA posted, they included four separate sections of the article and we will be diving into three of those.
The Franchise Team
Unfortunately, the people who work on the franchise mode have shouldered way too much of the blame. While the blame should be given to the producers of the game, people such as Andre Weingarten, who had a YouTube channel where he would upload madden franchise videos. Of course, since he works on the game-mode, he has been peppered with unnecessary comments, when in reality he has given as many ideas as everyone else has. In the article EA posted, they said that they would be “…dedicating a higher percentage of team bandwidth, to deliver a greater investment…” as well as “…we’re placing some of our most passionate Franchise voices to lead the creative path forward”. It seems like EA finally noticed that the franchise gamers were fed up by being ignored, as well as their own members that were working on the game.
Involvement as a Community
Of course, this whole update to franchise mode was brought up because the franchise community formed together and made the #FixMaddenFranchise movement happen. During the closed beta for Madden 21, a platform was used where the developmental team had a way to receive feedback from the community. Now, the developmental team will be communicating with the players throughout the year and get feedback on the game and how it’s being played and players will be able to give positive feedback while also offering what needs to be changed. This is a big step in the right direction as some of the higher-ups for Madden have blocked members of the community on Twitter. Now, members of the community can voice their own opinions without potentially being blocked by developers.
Commitments to Franchise Mode
This is where things get interesting. I’ll be going through each “addition” to the mode and describe why those are positive to the game.
I noted in my article about what I wanted to be fixed that regression in Madden 20 was awful. Regression made some players a shell of what they were the year before. Even if players were to have an MVP-like season, the regression would still hit. Additionally, players who had a break-out season weren’t rewarded as they should have been.
AI Personnel Management
This is another feature that was widely recommended by the community. It seemed as though the AI didn’t know what scheme was being run by each team and the moves in free agency and the draft affected that. Additionally, if one of the teams had a young quarterback and a star was out in the open market, the AI would make a run at the older player and completely ruin the younger player’s production.
Playoff and Super Bowl Presentation
Even if you were playing in the Super Bowl, the game’s presentation wouldn’t represent that. Games in the playoffs are being featured as just regular games it seems. This is a good start, but it would also be a great addition if games that decided who made the playoffs and who went home had more hype to them or a game where one team is attempting to end a losing streak. This is a good step though.
X-Factor and Superstar Ability Customization
X-Factors are a hot topic currently. Many see that the X-Factors are too overpowered, which to me is true. This customization ability though is a good addition as it seems like you can customize how the X-Factors are played in the games, which was needed to nerf how awful the X-Factors influenced the games and made unrealistic plays.
Career Stats UI
This wasn’t included in my list but would’ve been had I not been capped on how much I could post. Each player has a career stats tab, but it doesn’t give much intel on how they’ve improved throughout their careers as well as what teams they were playing for those years. This could also be added to the records tab and show past year stats including game logs and stats from those games.
This needed to be improved. I mentioned this in my article from last month that the logic used made no sense and that teams either undervalued or overvalued certain players and completely disregarded where they were at as an organization. Hopefully, this also includes draft trades where the trade-down options were horrific.
It took a ton of clicking and going through menus to see which of your players had retired. Hopefully, this changes but this is more so a representation of when players retire.
An addition to the current playoff bracket that is placed in the beginning sequence of some games. A small addition, but still a nice one.
This is a big priority for players in online leagues. When trades happen in online leagues, they can sometimes be way too one-sided. Now, with this addition, the commissioner can veto trades, similar to what fantasy football commissioners are allowed to do. This also is similar to another feature added which is the ability to undo transactions that could affect a user. Of course, the biggest one for online leagues might be the addition to reset a game in case of a disconnection.
This is all of the additions to Madden 21. Now, let’s take a look at the early additions they have stated could be added to Madden 22.
Coaching and Staff Management
This has constantly been asked to be back into franchise since it was removed from the game. Hopefully, this means that we will have a full coaching staff and the ability those coaching changes have an influence on the team but it’s disappointing this won’t be in the game this year.
This was the second-most mentioned improvement recommended by players. The scouting system is bland and boring and doesn’t give as much intel as you would like with the players. Again, the fact this isn’t in the game this year is greatly disappointing.
Scenario Engine Enhancements
The scenario engine was a key addition to developing certain players on your teams in franchise mode. They should’ve expanded on this for this year’s game as well.
Team Chemistry, more commissioner improvements, and relocation news were also in the article for Madden 22.
Some things that I wrote about in my article weren’t mentioned in the new additions to the mode which included a General Manager character option, additions to preseason including storylines about roster bubble players, information before regular-season games that include stats, a new injury system, compensatory picks, and updates to make free agency more realistic all weren’t mentioned in the article by EA. The biggest thing not mentioned in the article is one that drastically needs to be changed.
Contracts don’t seem to have been touched in offline franchise mode. You aren’t able to structure contracts the way you want and aren’t able to make the contract front-loaded or determine what amounts you want the player to make each year to make your team’s cap space manageable. One of the biggest challenges in the NFL each year is how each team handles the salary cap and the changes teams make to be under the salary cap while also acquiring valuable talent.
So, are these additions to the game enough? Right now, for Madden 21, it’s a decent start but more still needs to be added. These changes are more of patches to the mode for aspects of the game that were broken. These are nice things to see because now we know they are willing to make the mode better, but the fact that scouting improvements and coaching staffs aren’t in this year’s game is astonishing as they were the two aspects most players wanted in the game. I understand they didn’t have much time, but that’s what happens when you try disregarding one of the communities favorite game-modes. Until players see what the game is like when it comes out, the #FixMaddenFranchise trend will still be swarming Twitter. This is a good start, but EA needs to take a step forward now that 2K is in the equation.
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