This happens every year
Madden is undoubtedly the most iconic sports franchise in the history of video games, but it has has fallen off considerably in the past several years. Beloved game features like the franchise mode have been neglected in favor of developing new game modes like “Madden Ultimate Team” that are driven by “micro-transactions” (a pay-to-play model, essentially, on top of the game’s $60 price tag). And then there are the glitches. Oh boy, the glitches.
In recent years, we’ve seen glitches that made players nearly impossible to tackle and even one where kick returners who caught a ball in their own end zone were awarded an automatic touchdown, among others.
You can set your watch to it: Every year, in late August, social media will be flooded with clips of ridiculous bugs from the latest Madden. This year is no different.
Here’s one that carried over from last year’s game, where the ball will get stuck to a player’s helmet as he runs down the field or behave bizarrely after a deflection.
There are issues with how players are lining up.
Players’ legs stop working after they shake a tackle.
The graphics are rendering incorrectly.
And then there are issues of outright laziness, like failing to update the field graphics in the “Face of the Franchise” career mode or recycling the Super Bowl celebration montage.
The reaction of gamers has been to start tweeting with the hashtag #NFLdropEA and bombard the game’s Metacritic page with negative reviews. As of this writing, users have submitted 2,571 ratings for the PS4 edition of the game: 43 positive, 15 mixed and 2,513 negative. The game’s user rating is 0.3 out of 100, which is the lowest of any game on the site.
This kind of brigading is common in gamer culture and it’s important to note that, while the prevalence of glitches is undeniable, the game isn’t as bad as the horde of hashtaggers would like you to believe. The 17 professional critics’ reviews logged by Metacritic are predominantly mixed. The game isn’t great but it’s... fine.
“Fine” isn’t what fans have come to expect from Madden, though, and it’s fair to ask for an improvement on a series that so many people remember so fondly. I used to get the newest Madden every year for my birthday in August but I’ve paid for Madden exactly once since Madden 12 (the one with Peyton Hillis on the cover) came out in 2011. I got it for free last year (thanks to EA Sports making a few copies available to SI staffers) and didn’t really play it that much, mostly because the franchise mode that I used to pour so much time into was a shell of its former self.
The bad news for gamers hoping to see the NFL kick EA to the curb and let a new company take a crack at a football game is that the parties agreed in the spring to an extension to their exclusive licensing deal worth $1.5 billion that runs through 2026. Without a competitor to put pressure on Madden, EA just isn’t incentivized to make significant improvements to the game. Returning the game to glory may be a tall order, but a lot of fans would settle for just fixing the glitches.
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