After yesterday’s breakdown from EA detailing the final “damage report” relating to users who were impacted by certain cloud CFM saves being deleted — and the “make rights” being offered for Madden 24 — it feels like a good time to highlight a forum thread that was started right before 2023 (and this cloud save chaos) started. In the statement from EA, we now know at some point CFM users will get a “Commissioner Tools feature set” that will allow commishes to customize leagues in “unique and novel ways” for their group. No other details were mentioned as of now, but this is a good launching point to get into what OS folks have been saying in this thread so far.
Madden Franchise Mode Thoughts As We Head Towards Madden 24?
OS user Btj98 started the thread, and they framed it as taking stock of the mode roughly 2+ years after #FixMaddenFranchise made EA respond to fans in a more direct manner. They also listed some of the items they think need improvement for Madden 24.
- Offseason training camp
- Position battles
- More coaching skill trees
- Playable drills with draft prospects
- A WAY, WAY better injury system
- More immersive features (power rankings, better news feed, draft grades, etc.)
- More scenarios (where is the holdout scenario?)
It should come as no surprise that many of the responses were from downtrodden folks who just feel frustrated with the state of affairs. OS user PhillyPhanatic14 nailed the general feeling that many others have about CFM right now.
A few years ago we wanted them to innovate and make the mode better…Now I just wish I could play my franchise consistently without insane bugs, crashes, or the whole league disappearing.
It makes sense this feeling would permeate through the thread because it has been a very rough year for CFM. We as a staff even thought Madden‘s franchise mode was the biggest disappointment in 2022. It’s hard to look past the bugs that caused so much dissatisfaction throughout the cycle. In fact, in the news post we posted that discussed EA’s “make rights” for the affected users who got their franchises deleted in December, OS user CM Hooe made what I think is a very valid point:
I am personally slightly annoyed that this 50% off voucher and beta access promise is only offered to players who were impacted by this specific issue. Personally, I basically stopped playing Madden 23 after the draft rewind glitch killed my online league in October. That loss of my player progress data entirely killed my interest in this year’s game.
Moreover, anyone who has followed Madden NFL 23 post-release with any level of interest surely has experienced or otherwise knows that the server stability across the entire game and all modes has been terrible, and that instability has affected all players, not just those who were specifically impacted this past December. It’s not just the 2% of leagues impacted last month with whom EA Sports has to rebuild trust.
I’m with CM Hooe all the way there. I would not expect EA to give everyone who played CFM online this year half off next year’s game, but if there ever was a time for something that drastic, this might be it.
Making Madden 24 Franchise Mode Better
Regardless, when it comes to next year’s game, folks were still happy to give actual feedback and thoughts on how the mode can improve. I’m not going to go through every post in the thread, but instead, I want to highlights some common themes. The first relates to presentation. OS user kingsofthevalley basically explains that they want to feel like they’re in an actual NFL world.
All it really needs is an interactive news feed with actual sportscasters. They didn’t really need to remove the background with the coach sitting at the desk, just replace that with a news desk and some sportscasters that say random things from around the league. That would significantly increase immersion.
OS user Cory Levy gets to the core of the issue that crops up in the games themselves as they play out:
The biggest problem in Franchise continues to be how lifeless and sterile and uninteresting it feels. Every game feels like a one-off exhibition game. Throwing in a static Playoff Schedule graphic starting in Week 13 doesn’t cut it.
We can discuss the “right” way to execute on the above ideas, but the point they had (and others had) is that you always feel like you’re in your own silo and your team is all that matters. One of the major selling points of playing CFM online with others is to escape that feeling of isolation. But it’s absolutely true that EA really should be doing much more at this point to make the solo user feel like they’re in the National Football League. After all, the NFL never sleeps.
Looking beyond the presentation, team building elements are the second pillar of requests that flooded the thread. I’ve talked in the past about how I do think the college game has some inherent advantages when compared to the pro game in terms of how “easy” it is to make a fun franchise mode experience. College teams are always changing by default because that’s how college works, and you are always recruiting every year because of that. However, it’s not like NFL teams really stay the same very long either. There are certain key positions where you might have the same player for 5+ years, but the personnel turnover is still constant. With that in mind, I want to mention a couple of the suggestions made by OS users:
- OS user MHammer113 – The draft and scouting needs a major glow up. These items should both have their own page with lots of analysis and variety but the scouting just feels weird and clunky. As for the draft, I literally cannot believe how poorly it is represented. 2 mins per pick, no cpu initiated trades, no drama, it’s just brutally basic. The nfl draft creates so much buzz in real life.
- OS user jmch1990 – Free agency should be more conversational. It’s too forced the way it is, you just make an offer, see if it’s more appealing than the competition, and you can adjust until it is. That’s not how it would really work. You should be able to make an offer and wait for a response: either accepted, or a counter, or to hear that another team is offering more that you can choose to match, beat more, or rescind your offer.
- OS user Unlucky 13 – I want coaches to MEAN something, and if they can’t be unique, I at least want them to be different. I want to play as the GM, and hire a HC, OC, DC, and position coaches, and have a deep system where that all works together for playbooks, player progression, motivation, etc. I want that to be DEEP game within the game.
Your staff, the NFL Draft, and free agency should all be huge parts of this game. EA has tried to add aspects to scouting and making the NFL Draft more interesting, but none of these three things are highlight-worthy in terms of pointing to them and being like, “we’re really showing every other sports game how it’s done here.” If the league itself feels uninteresting, and then building a team also feels a little hollow, that’s not a good combo for a franchise mode.
The final pillar I will mention goes back to the general idea of progression/player ratings. Franchise modes (and even card collecting modes) do have an issue in various sports games where the gameplay balance gets thrown out of equilibrium by how progression plays out. In MUT or MyTeam, the issue is cards keep getting better but the gameplay is not really balanced for when there are a ton of 99 overall players out on the field. When it comes to something like CFM, issues can arise because we have tools at our disposal (that are supposed to be there to make things more fun) that end up making player ratings matter less.
I’ll let OS user JoshC1977 explain what I’m talking about:
They need to either remove, heavily re-work, or give a user option to turn off the following:
– In-game momentum
– Coach skills
– Game planning
The current design of the coach skills and game planning, in particular, completely kill the entire feel of the mode for me. They’re not much more than re-dressed MUT coach and strategy cards (complete with a separate ‘currency’ for coaches in the form of skill points that you can “earn by completing solo challenges”). It’s not just a vibe thing either – they detract from THE most important thing in franchise: player ratings. If player ratings don’t matter, building your team doesn’t either, so why play the mode? While I am absolutely not saying that player ratings don’t matter, they clearly matter less because of the ham-fisted implementation of these modules. (Oh, and someone explain to me how a HC is supposed to decrease injury duration — like, really!? And you make THAT skill the most ridiculous and overpowered in the mode, the first skill you can unlock!?)
Progression as a year-to-year concept matters a lot when thinking about how many seasons you stick with a franchise mode. However, this particular aspect of progression is almost a separate topic because you want franchise mode to remain balanced enough that the gameplay remains as fun as it would be in a “play now” game.
There are a lot of other thoughtful responses in the thread, so I hope others will continue to add to the discussion. None of us know yet what Madden 24 will look like, but I know we all hope franchise mode is something EA talks plenty about in the months ahead.