After several months of petitioning EA via #FixMaddenFranchise and #NFLDropEA AND #EndMaddenMonopoly, EA finally responded in the form of a MUCH-needed title update, with the usual Gridiron Notes attached. The notes cover several game modes, but this update notably focuses on “Franchise Mode,” which hasn’t seen any new features added since 2019. I haven’t researched it, but going a full year without a Franchise update… that’s probably a record for a AAA sports franchise. It is not like sister sites for jackpotjoy. Yeesh. Anyway, the update’s features are as follows:
Dev Trait Regression: This essentially means that if a player plays poorly, or if a player isn’t performing up to their usual standards, their Dev Trait (Star, Superstar, or Superstar X-Factor) is reduced. This can be toggled if it doesn’t work, like much of what EA produces. Keep in mind, this was a feature that was so broken in Madden 19, they had to remove it. Yes, the worst Madden of all time had a feature so broken that the worst company sought to remove it. That isn’t very promising for this addition’s future. Expect it to be a “new” feature… in Madden 24. Fortunately, there is a new toggle, that allows you to turn this off, along with breakouts.
X-Factor Customization: This is a feature that can basically do no wrong, and it is heaven-sent coming from EA. Something that will polish gameplay TEN-fold, it is, laughably, a feature Ctrl C and V’d over from Player Mode, a poor-man’s Superstar Mode from the golden age of this forlorn franchise. How it hasn’t been in Core Franchise mode since the release of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Player Weapons is beyond me. Still, it’s a, to quote IGN, “step in the right direction.”
Playoff Bracket: A purely aesthetic addition, and one that can only be viewed beginning in Week 13. It is neat, but shouldn’t be a massive marketing campaign when it should be relegated behind Create-a-Team and Superstar Mode. Still, baby steps for EA and Oldenburg.
Improved Career Stats: A passionate request for many years by guys like SOFTDRINKTV and RyanMoody21, it will significantly improve a player’s stat card by showing what team a player played a particular season with, and… that… is about it. Also, thus far, it has been screwed up, by a few examples I’ve seen online. For Example: AP on the Texans, Kareem Hunt on the Bears, and Nuk on the Titans. How do you screw up something so easy (a simple line of code or two for crying out loud) but have the audacity to call your consumers “clowns.” It’s just embarrassing. Please, go support 2K, in their return to NFL games, and in their Next-Gen efforts with the NBA. NBA 2K may be money-hungry too, but at least they have a deep franchise and career mode, plus a solid offline mode as well. C’mon, EA. What is your budget of BILLIONS of dollars going to? Building the absolute genius of The Yard, which didn’t have Play-a-Friend until TODAY? Yes, definitely.
Retirement Alerts: This is another literal line of code or two, yet it is also being championed as a great new feature. All it does? Give you an alert that tells you that somebody retired, which somehow wasn’t in the game prior.
Others: There are now QB Breakout scenarios, the first scenarios added to the game since… 2019. This can’t really be messed up, honestly. The same goes for the ability to lower the number of players with a certain Dev Trait in your Franchise, or the aforementioned newly implemented toggles. Ultimately, these solid additions are few and far in between, and fail to mask the other major issues so badly that Franchise is currently sickly from… you know what.
Conclusion: This update is necessary, but it still needs polish in several areas, and there continues to be a long, winded list of things that EA needs to stop Band-Aid fixing and start stitching. Madden is, and continues to be, in ruins. EA claims they are working on a new update, that will improve AI trade and draft logic, that they claim is being prepared for Mid-January. But, we all know the truth, deep inside. EA will not deliver. Most of these features will be bust. And EA will still make a fat paycheck off of MUT and parent’s credit cards. This is the reality of exclusive rights, and a lack of competition.