When it comes to “Madden,” frustrated gamers are accusing EA Sports of completely dropping the ball.
On Thursday, #EndMaddenMonopoly began trending on Twitter as fans of the NFL simulation video game continued to express their displeasure with the latest installment, “Madden NFL 21.” It’s the second time since the game’s release that angry fans have taken to Twitter over the game. Earlier this week, #NFLDropEA briefly gained traction on the social media platform.
The game, which hit shelves on August 28, received a lukewarm reception from critics, garnering a 63 rating on Metacritic, a website that aggregates reviews from around the internet. Fan reviews, which are also featured on Metacritic, have been even worse, with “Madden NFL 21” scoring a franchise-worst 0.3 out of 10.
The primary complaints from fans this time around are that “Madden NFL 21” feels like nothing more than a $60 roster update and that EA Sports did not do enough to bolster franchise mode, instead opting to focus on monetizing the game via microtransactions in “The Yard” and “Madden Ultimate Team” modes.
5 years and the same Superbowl celebration. And they wonder why people are sick of this game, it's copy and pasted with updated rosters that aren't even as good as the ones that you can just find on OperationSports. @NFL #EndMaddenMonopoly pic.twitter.com/D1SJmg3rVg— Josh Taylor (@MrBillyVegas) September 3, 2020
In addition to the furor surrounding microtransactions — an industry pain point/debate that has existed for the gaming community for years — players have been sharing various glitches and errors they have experienced while playing the game. It’s worth noting that at and shortly after launch, games often have bugs that developers are able to patch and fix via software updates.
In response to the complaints, EA Sports released an outline of three planned updates, specifically targeting franchise mode, that are expected to roll out in the coming months.
In the statement, EA thanked fans for their “passion and feedback for Madden NFL.”
The history of ‘Madden’ competitors — or lack thereof
The #EndMaddenMonopoly movement comes 16 years after EA Sports signed an exclusive agreement with the NFL to feature team logos as well as players’ names and likenesses. Fans have accused EA Sports of becoming lazy and complacent since it has been the only video game publisher with NFL rights.
Prior to the 2004 deal, EA Sports and “Madden” faced competition from various other developers, most notably Sega Sports and Visual Concepts’s “NFL 2K” franchise. 2K’s last installment prior to the NFL-EA Sports pact was “NFL 2K5,” which is still widely regarded as one of the best simulation football games of all time.
In fact, in 2004, the aggressive $20 “NFL 2K5” price point forced EA Sports’ hand and the company dropped the cost of “Madden 2005” from the then-industry standard $50 to $30 to compete. “Madden 2005” also introduced the “Hit Stick,” which has become a staple of the game since its inception.
There is some hope for exhausted gamers, however.
Despite EA Sports reaching an extension with the NFL on simulation exclusivity through the 2025 season, 2K and the NFL Players’ Association agreed to a deal allowing names and likenesses to appear in an arcade-style football video game, which is set to release in 2021.
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