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COLUMN: Sports gaming needs an update, make the companies give it to us


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After an underwhelming installment of the John Madden franchise, it's about time the millions of fans they abandoned to take a stand. However, instead of running to message boards and comment sections to complain, it is time to hit Electronic Arts' pockets.

Seeing the Madden 22 trailer highlighting the addition of NCAA football teams heightened my desire to see if Madden had truly changed. So I caved. But once I picked up my controller, I was disappointed.

While there was a time where Madden reigned supreme in the hierarchy of football video games, those times have passed. 

Instead of receiving a bug-free game full of innovative gameplay changes that allowed full autonomy to the player, gamers now can expect a repackaged version of the game we’ve been playing since 2015, but with an updated roster.

This wasn't always the case. 

The early days of sports video games were like the wild, wild west, with companies competing for minimal shares in the market. Although many competitors threw their hats in the ring, EA Sports and 2K emerged from the battered discs and cartridges. 

From camera angles to more in-depth game modes, fans began to expect increased graphics and in-depth content with every launch. Just as football video games started reaching insane heights, thought unattainable when John Madden pitched his idea for a realistic football video game, things changed for the worse.

Upon signing an exclusive rights deal with the NFL in 2004, EA extensively killed 2K’s football offering. That’s when the decline hit, and even as petitions come and go, EA Sports doesn’t seem likely to release its monopolistic grasp on the NFL property any time soon. 

So what are we sports gaming fans to do?

There's only one way to bring about the change gamers have longed for since the golden era of sports video games. Stop purchasing the yearly edition of Madden.

That seems like a crazy concept, but if you think back on the past five new Maddens, how many have drawn you in for hours at a time, like the old days? For many people, including myself, that number grows slimmer by the year.

What is it that forces us to rush out and purchase each edition on release day? Is it nostalgia, ignorance, or simply habit? I'm not the person to answer that, you are. 

I know that inevitably some people will say, if I don't purchase it, how will I test out the rookies on my favorite team? Through Madden Roster Sharing and the hard work of fellow gamers, you have access to the most up-to-date draft class and rosters, making it more possible than ever for us to fight back.

While the changes to Madden Ultimate Team, featuring micro-transactions, have been significant, the mode that drew in early supporters, franchise mode, has been severely neglected.

EA's developers occasionally tweak the background and layout of the main screen, but the bones of the mode, like scouting and team improvement, remain untouched. 

Up to this point, EA has used clever marketing and empty promises to pull the wool over fans' eyes, so we have to take drastic measures to counteract these tactics.

Although it seems like large corporations are invincible, there is no stronger force in our economy than that of the American consumer. Once enough people realize this and take action, EA will have no choice but to come through on years of broken promises. 

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