In Defense Of ‘Madden NFL’

I don’t like Madden NFL. I respect it, but I don’t particularly enjoy it, either. That said, it’s a game that’s often prone to some pretty severe, and somewhat undeserved, hate online. So, in the interest of serving as a devil’s advocate, and as Madden NFL 25 hits stores today, here’s a look at some common criticisms of the series, and some defenses for them.

EA Is Stifling Innovation In Football Games!

This can be a little hard to argue with because, well, name a football franchise not controlled by EA. The murder of 2K Sports’ beloved football games certainly didn’t help matters on this one. But while EA certainly took an opportunity to shut their competitors out, let’s stop for a moment to look at who offered that opportunity.

The NFL is one of the most powerful entertainment corporations in America. Everything it does is driven by the profit motive and drawing the maximum revenue out of fans. They didn’t have to offer EA an exclusive license, and EA certainly had no leverage to draw it out of them. So, we should spread the blame equally; the NFL only cares that the check clears.

The Game Itself Is Just A $60 Roster Update!

It’s true that the game is often nothing but minor tweaks to rules and changes to teams, but it’s worth noting that this is in line with what EA Tiburon is mandated to do. The idea behind the Madden franchise is and always has been realism, and it’s not like they’ve got a lot of time to innovate between entries.

Honestly, these games have a very, very specific market, and that’s football fans, full stop. If you don’t like football and you try to play Madden, you’re going to fill the rage meter to Controller-Flinging very quickly, just like any other fussy sim that insists you know all the rules going in. Essentially, the game doesn’t change because the people who buy it really, really don’t want it to; they want football, as real as possible.

Madden NFL Is Boring!

See above; it’s for hardcore football fans, not hardcore gamers. The Madden games occupy a very weird space in gaming in that they’re the only “sim” style game that really enjoys consistent mainstream success. Sports sims can generally do better than other sims, but not, generally, “twenty-five years worth of games” better. They’re games aimed at a very specific audience: It’s just that audience happens to be enormous relative to other sims.

Madden NFL Exploits Its Fans!

Isn’t that a question that should be left to the fans? While EA and the NFL would happily make owning the game mandatory if they could, the fact is that they can’t. If the game sells, that’s because its fans very much want to buy it.

And there’s a tinge of hypocrisy, here. I stopped complaining about this the moment I realized that I would happily buy dozens of games I already owned all over again in a minute, because I had fun with them. Madden isn’t spreadsheet software, it’s a game. People play it because they have fun. That simple.

EA Is Evil!

Um… well… the thing is… OK, we admit it, some things even we can’t support.