Madden continues to be the worst video game franchise out there

Latest character-model snafus highlight why EA isn’t for effort

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Why do people still buy Madden?
Why do people still buy Madden?
Image: AP

“E-A Sports… it’s a bad game”

The last Madden I played was the 2017 version. Gronk was on the cover. That game was frustrating. It was full of bugs, weird animations, and the drag route was impossible to counter. If I am to believe most of the comments on Twitter, the game hasn’t improved much, if at all, since then. Yet people still buy it. Every. Year.

Until EA’s exclusive license to produce simulation-style NFL games is up, the company has no incentive to improve. Recently, EA and the NFL agreed to an extension of their deal that will now run through 2026. That’s right. We have at least five more years of putting up with EA’s incompetence before maybe we can get another decent NFL video game. Until then, those of us wanting to get a real-life-football-simulation video game using actual NFL players and teams will have to settle for.... wait, who in the world could that be?

Advertisement

That’s Mac Jones, the New England Patriots’ 2021 first-round selection. In case you couldn’t tell from the side-by-side comparison in the tweet, Mac Jones does not look like his Madden counterpart. The former Alabama quarterback does not have a beard, does not have dark brown hair, and doesn’t look like he keeps pictures of his old high school girlfriend taped to one of the walls in his basement. As bad as this rendering of Jones is, it’s sadly not the worst character-model Madden has put out recently.

You ever heard of Christian McCaffrey — the 2017 first-round running back for Carolina, who became just the third halfback in NFL history to record 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season in 2019? He’s no scrub. He’s a prolific pass-catcher out of the backfield and a 2019 All-Pro. He’s considered one of the best offensive weapons in the league today…

Advertisement

He’s also not Black.

Advertisement

I know this was a glitch, and his actual character model didn’t look like this, but it was too good to skip. Christian McCaffrey is a much lighter complexion than what Madden 20 depicted him at launch. You’d think a billion-dollar company like EA Sports, whose sole purpose on the Madden series is to create a realistic NFL simulation would be able to distinguish those kinds of features, and make sure something like this doesn’t happen. Nope!

Do you want more examples? Austin Ekeler and Michael Badgley of the Los Angeles Chargers got hit hard with the ‘inaccurate visuals stick’ in Madden 21.

Advertisement

Ekeler is a star in the league. He was right behind McCaffrey in receiving yards in 2019 with 997, so why is he getting so disrespected with that abhorrent character model? Badgley’s is even worse. The Chargers’ kicker looks like he’s about to embark on a quest to stop Frodo Baggins from throwing an evil ring into a volcano. Nothing about that looks right. Nothing. He looks as if Steve Buscemi was playing the role of a goblin, and the costume designer just gave up halfway through the makeup session.

Advertisement

2018 Pro Bowler Philip Lindsay was missing his iconic big hair and headband in Madden 20. He looks more like Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones than his actual self.

Advertisement

First, Greg Olsen is blond. Second, he almost never has facial hair. Third, when he does have facial hair, it’s a magnificent beard to rival that of Tom Hanks in Castaway. Not this Pennsylvania Amish chinstrap his character model has.

Advertisement

All these examples are just from the last two Madden games. I could go back even further, and I’m sure I would easily find tons more examples like this. Madden hasn’t been a good franchise for over a decade now. We know it can be great (Madden ‘08? Fantastic). But with EA Sports leaning more and more every year into its Ultimate Team mode and banking on microtransactions to earn them big bucks, it’s unlikely that Madden will return to its former glory any time soon. Honestly, I just want to play with real NFL players. I want to feel immersed in a realistic NFL simulation. When we’re given character models that represent their real-life counterparts as well as that one courtroom painting of Tom Brady, it breaks the immersion. I’m no longer invested in the game. Instead, I’m thinking about how bad the graphics are, and the mistakes I’ve made in life to lead me to the point I’m at now. Nobody wants that.

Fix your game, EA Sports.