Madden and how a market can go stale

Every year when a sports game comes around, the outcry from the general populous is always the same: “Isn’t just a re-skin of the same thing from last year?”

The answer for most is no, there are usually significant tweaks to the engine that can make a game feel very different from one year to the next. Something like the NBA 2K franchise doesn’t do much, it knows that it has almost nailed the formula that fans and critics both enjoy so just tightens the loose bolts while something like Pro Evolution Soccer, that has been behind FIFA for the past few years, consistently tries to adapt to offer something different but compelling at the same time.

It’s unfair at times to accuse most of them for charging full price, even when the argument that they could do cheaper updates is valid, as there is clearly a lot of care put into them. They know they want to do the best for those sports, they want to be better than their competition and they strive to add or change some things every year to keep it fresh and worthwhile.

And then, there’s Madden.

Much like a current political figure, Madden is a brash, gluttonous, unopposed beast that will not bend to suit your will. Every single year it promises innovation, it promises to fix the issues of the past but instead, it chugs on its merry way giggling to the bank as millions are suckered every year.

Madden 17 is the first iteration I decided to get since Madden 12 back on the Xbox 360. The only changes I have noticed on the gameplay front are a different system to doing kicks and a minorly helpful run line to show you where you already know where you’re going.

Except from that run-assist also gives you options while on that play to juke, spin or stiff arm, which would be helpful to newcomers. However, no matter what you click in an attempt to improv, it does what it prompted like a stubborn child.

The fact you have to turn it off in the menus on higher difficulties is staggering. Its restrictive nature hinders rather than teaches, giving you ridiculous options that wastes a possession. For the 500th time, no, I do not want to spin move into three tacklers, that’s stupid.

Then there’s the inconsistencies to real-life games. Sometimes I’m allowed to clobber the quarterback even after he’s thrown because there’s not too much of a stoppage in the video game realm to pause my momentum quickly enough, yet sometimes I am punished for it.

It doesn’t even understand the rules, either. You can throw an eight-yard pass that ends up being a four-yard play because the player was hit at the point of catching, even with his feet down, and pushed back to that point.

Forward progress would dictate otherwise but Madden does not like forward progress, it likes stagnation and money.

We can all dream of the day where some legitimate competition shows up but the companies are so tight that it would take the jaws of life to pry them apart. They have a complete monopoly, a dictatorship over the sport and no one is brave enough to oppose their oppressive reign of terror.

They have completely drained the well of optimism dry as they plod along, happily hoovering up the cash a passionate fan base for the sport is all-too-willing to bestow on them. If this was any other kind of game, no one would be putting up with this kind of clear crookery.

Unless you’re Call of Duty, even then there’s differences each year and a whole new campaign. When you are worse than that, there must be a special place in hell for you.

That is permanently reserved for Madden NFL by EA Sports.


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