Sports video games are notoriously awful. Rarely anything about them changes from year to year aside from roster updates and an occasional graphics overhaul. Gameplay stays relatively the same, thus the fun stays about the same as well. Actually, the fun may be decreasing as several sports franchises turn their attention to money-making modes like Ultimate Team or Diamond Dynasty, neglecting the modes that give the games a public appeal. EA Sports’ Madden NFL game is arguably the worst offender.
I don’t have to say how low the Madden franchise has fallen in recent years. Search YouTube and you’ll find a library of creators with in-depth videos about the unprecedented decline in the quality of Madden games. You could probably do that with any sports franchise — FIFA, NBA 2K, MLB: The Show. Even a series as beloved as the NHL series has seen a considerable decline in consumer ratings in recent years. However, with the popularity of football in America, Madden has more or less become the poster child for sports video games’ mediocrity, and this past week, Madden may have made their biggest blunder ever, a real serious whoopsy-daisy, if you will.
If you’re not up-to-date with Madden news, I don’t blame you. I haven’t played Madden 23 since like Week 4 of the current NFL season, and I only bought it because I’m a weak-willed individual who succumbs to peer pressure way too quickly. However, I hope you’ll still get upset when you realize what Madden did to its user base.
It all started on Dec. 26, when Madden gave its users a faulty franchise mode for Christmas. I guess they were all on EA’s naughty list for not stealing other people’s credit cards to buy more MUT packs, I’m not sure. Regardless, for some unknown reason, people were having trouble logging into Connected Franchise Mode, which is the only mode some people, including myself, play nowadays on Madden. It’s a way to conduct seasons with friends and play against each other in a “realistic” setting.
If I can’t play connected franchise mode, I’m not playing their terrible game. Thankfully, they were investigating the situation, and it would hopefully only be a few days before Connected Franchises were back up and running smoothly. No.
TWO DAYS! It took two days for them to get their second-most popular mode up and running! My word, the incompetence of EA Sports never ceases to amaze me. Okay, whatever. Maybe it was a huge issue that needed to be resolved. At least it’s working again and people can get back to playing their friends. After all, the official Madden Direct account had given players the thumbs up on Connected Franchises.
This was tweeted out the next day. Oopsies! Turns out not everything is solved. I know we told you everything was good-to-go, but in reality, we just wanted our users back so that you could start spending money on our terrible product again. We don’t care about this game mode, so we put minimal effort into fixing it, and once the masking tape started to hold, we told you all that it was okay to go back. That wasn’t the case though.
That’s how the tweet above felt. EA Sports had been neglecting franchise mode, and now that there’s a problem, they basically don’t do anything, hoping that minimal effort will hold them over as it always has.
Unfortunately, minimal effort didn’t just work this time, it may have destroyed several users’ files.
“Hello Madden Franchise Community,
We wanted to provide you with an update and next steps around your Online Franchise, CFM Leagues and FOTF saves from 12/28.
From the Developers: On Wednesday 12/28 around 2:45 pm EST, Players trying to access the Franchise server were given an error that leagues were unavailable. The issue persisted until 12:45 am EST on Thursday 12/29. Unfortunately, if you logged into Franchise leagues during this time, your data was affected due to a data storage issue that resulted in Franchise files being corrupted.
Note: Players and leagues who did not log in during that window, your leagues were not impacted and are currently safe to log into and play.
First off, we are sorry that this happened. We know how important your franchises are to you and we are actively working on a fix to restore some files via a backup as soon as possible. However, not all affected leagues can be restored. The team is currently projecting around 40% of leagues to be recovered. We will communicate an updated timeline next week around the potential restoration of save files from a backup.
If you logged in during the above window, we encourage you to start a new franchise as theEA mode is up and running. Stay tuned to @MaddenNFLDirect for updates around Franchise restoration.”
The above is an actual statement from the Madden developers. The “too long; didn’t give a shit” version of this statement is that anyone who tried to access franchise mode between Dec. 28 at 2:45 pm ET and Dec. 29 at 12:45 am ET, had their file corrupted and ultimately erased. For simply trying to play the game, players were gifted a huge middle finger, after Madden had told players it was alright to try to get back into Franchise Mode. Holy smokes, talk about your all-time fuck-ups. Talk about a hilarious gaffe, right? I’m sure all those players loved losing their six-year franchise where they built a 93 overall dynasty against their friends with an X-Factor rookie linebacker. I’m sure none of them were upset.
The statement does say that some of the leagues will potentially be restored, but they don’t offer a timeline for that fix. They also project that only 40 percent of files will be saved. In other words, more than half of all files are gone forever. In reality, the number is probably something like 5-10 percent and Madden is just trying to save a little bit of face by giving players a figure that gives them a little bit of hope that their franchise will be recovered. Pathetic.
Having trouble logging in is bad, but it’s not a problem only Madden has dealt with. Ultimately, if the problem was just that some users were having trouble logging in, even if it took two days to fix, players would have forgotten about that trouble relatively quickly. But to say that it’s okay to log in and punish franchise players for doing so...that’s a tear even Flex Tape would have trouble mending. How can their user base trust anything the company says anymore? I don’t care how many dances and touchdown animations you add to the game, I lost my 22-year-old X-factor quarterback Johnny Flanagan!
What’s sad is that Madden may literally try to save face by offering exactly what I said above — an emote or animation that can make DeVonta Smith floss or something. I know some people like that stuff, but if Madden does in fact do this as an “apology,” how little do they think of their fans? Yeah, I know you paid $70 on the game, and potentially more in MUT, only for us to erase your favorite save file. You have every right to be upset. So here’s an add-on that can make your players do a cool handshake, totally free. We’ll even throw in a twerking emote for only $4.99. We sure do love our players. Get out of here with that bullshit.
Like I said earlier, I haven’t played Madden at all in months, but franchise mode has always been what keeps me a customer, even if I don’t buy every game every year. If I lost my 99 overall defensive end Javonte Morant, my 97 overall cornerback Devin Burney, or my 98 overall tight end Allen Winn, each of whom I spent weeks developing into X-factors, I’d be done. Madden would be going straight into the trash, right next to Gotham Knights and Babylon’s Fall. In fact, I wasn’t even affected, and I might still do that. It’s just the right thing to do.
While I may not have been affected, fellow Deadspin writer DJ Dunson was one of the unfortunate souls whose league was tarnished by the mighty hammer of EA Sports’ incompetence. “I’m pissed. Very, very pissed,” said Dunson, rage fueling every keyboard press of that sentence. I don’t blame him. According to reports, it wasn’t just online franchises either. Even offline franchises succumbed to this awful corruption catastrophe. No one who wanted to play the only simulation-style football video game available was safe. All I can offer is my condolences.
Seriously, things aren’t going to get better if this doesn’t hurt EA’s pockets. Why would they try to improve their product if they know we, as a group, are going to keep buying the game and spending real money on fake money to spend on virtual cards? Stop buying Madden! They clearly don’t care about you, it’s time to stop caring about the game.