Madden NFL: Three Things Which Would Excite Me About Its Future
Madden is synonymous with NFL football. Madden NFL 16 released to mostly favorable critical reviews. I personally think it’s the best digital version of simulation football ever released. That being said it’s nowhere near perfect. August is right around the corner, E3 is knocking on the door and Madden 17 will be in our hands in no time. Before we step back out on the gridiron, let’s take a look at three things I think would catapult Madden back into the conversation as one of the best sports titles released in any given year.
eSports is here, and in the next year or so you’re going to see more sports game developers dedicating development, design and marketing space to their inclusion in this arena. Madden should be no different. A Madden tournament that led to a championship game played at the Pro Bowl with the winner getting a trip to that year’s Super Bowl would be huge. If promoted correctly, it could be a ratings score.
Madden already has the marketing infrastructure from past events. In other words, re-purpose the Madden Bowl from an NFL players tournament to a consumer-facing one (a direction they seem to already be leaning based on this year). Another option is to keep the NFL players tournament and just allow the Madden Bowl to be a championship game where the players champion faces off against the video game champion. At the end, you donate the winnings to the charity of the winner’s choice.
Shoot, bring back the Madden Nation and have players face off during the course of the actual NFL season, culminating in a tournament-style playoff that coincides with the NFL playoffs.
The challenge, of course, is what mode will eSports Madden use? The obvious answer is versus, but then you invariably wind up with everyone playing as similar teams. So I believe Madden Champions would be an awesome mode to use. Just watching a player draft his or her team would make for great viewing and speculation. The only problem I could see is people potentially claiming one team’s draft options were better than another’s. If they figure out a way that balances the draft (maybe use the Salary Cap Ultimate Team mode instead?) while still potentially giving players a differing player pool from which to draw, this mode could be exciting.
Bring The Simulation Back To Franchise Mode
Franchise mode. Connected Careers. Whatever it’s being called this year, the mode where you get to manage a team from its location and uniforms to the incoming free agents and draft picks to what city your team calls home next year is my absolute favorite mode. The ability to not only play the games but also manage the team really appeals to me. The problem with this mode over the years is that we often see features removed (especially when jumping from one console generation to the next) with a few them returning slowly year after year and presented as brand new features.
One Franchise feature from Madden’s past I miss is the coaching staff hiring and firings. All three facets of the game had a coach that needed to be acquired. There were even trainers and scouts available to be signed. Each coach had attributes that made them attractive. The best part of that was retired players would wind up in the coaching pool as well. How great was it to see your star halfback retire but still able to share what he learned as the offensive coordinator?
Franchise mode and Superstar mode were re-branded in Madden 25. They combined them all and called it Connected Careers. The thought was that you could play a multiyear mode with your friends and everyone could play the way they wanted. While I’m sure there’s an audience for that style of gameplay variation, I think it’s time to bring back the Superstar mode as a separate entity. Take a page out NBA 2K’s MyPlayer and add endorsements and other off-day/off-season elements that engage the player beyond “play the game from this position.”
Also make it something you need to work up to. Don’t have me create a wide receiver who is rated 68 overall and starts over Odell Beckham Jr. Give me the option to practice and get better, or to have some endorsements to make money. Let me do something with the income I earn, like buy a nicer house or better training equipment. You can have these elements double back on themselves and tie things like XP gains and better recovery time from injuries to things I do with my money and free time.
Gaming consoles are more powerful than they’ve ever been before. The games look more realistic than they ever have. It’s time that Madden made some of the off-the-field gameplay elements more realistic as well. Honestly, many of the ways to make Madden better are just to bring back features from Madden’s past.
What do you guys think? What other features would you like to see? Let me know!