If you haven’t been around the last few days, you may have missed Sports Gamers Online’s report on Tuesday regarding the status of the two other “live service” updates for Madden 22 Franchise Mode. If you did miss it, here’s a quick recap.
SGO learned, after talking to multiple people around the game’s development, that the two other large updates for the mode had been canceled. We were told, specifically, that the decision was made after members of the Madden development team left to work on EA Sports College Football. On top of that, Madden development was going to focus more on year-over-year improvements.
That story, obviously, frustrated a large part of the Madden 22 community. After being told over the summer that there would be three updates, to then hear it would only be two had to have been a gut punch. Trust me, I get it.
But now that you’re all caught up, this is what happened next. Despite being reached out to multiple times for comment and/or clarification on what we had learned, EA Sports either missed or ignored the requests. Instead, on Thursday night, the company released a statement via IGN denying the report.
The statement to IGN reads:
“We do not like to comment on rumors or speculation; however, we are committed to continuing to improve Franchise as a part of our ongoing Madden NFL 22 live service and beyond. This includes two upcoming Franchise updates that we’ll deliver in Madden NFL 22. We will have more details on the updates in the new year.”
Now, to be honest, I fully expected a statement to come out after the story broke on Tuesday. It’s usually what happens. However, at least in my decade-long time in this field, most companies will at least provide some sort of statement to the outlet that first reported the story. To not in this case feels like a simple case of covering tracks after fan backlash.
What Was The Information?
As stated, the main point of the story was the Madden team losing a major portion of developers, and the two “major” — the word I was told by all of them — franchise mode updates were scrapped. When exactly they were scrapped, I don’t know. I just know they were.
Obviously, people wanted to know what those two features were. We were told the two were a “Scouting Talent Tree” and a large update to the scenario engine. There were also “larger plans but those got cut” earlier, likely before anyone knew about the planned three updates. However, it’s something worth mentioning nonetheless.
Where Did The Information Come From?
Of course, one of the many questions people have added since the story is, “Where did they get this info?”.
First things first, revealing sources who have trusted SGO with information is something that will never happen. It goes against any sense of journalistic integrity. Larger outlets don’t give up names of their sources, and neither will we. Again, as someone who’s been trusted with information to break stories throughout my career, I’ve never made a source known and that won’t start now. So, let’s just end that right there.
As far as the actual information learned, it came from more than three different sources with knowledge on the subject. All of whom corroborated the information all through the process of questioning, writing, and publishing. Two of them flat out said the development team wasn’t happy, and frustrated. The other who didn’t specifically say that did agree when they were told about it.
People often say with stories that use anonymous sources to “show proof”. That’s always been a tough line to cross. While many conversations happen over the phone, others are via various messaging apps. Taking screenshots of someone’s messages to me without them giving me the green light isn’t the right thing to do, plain and simple. Should they allow it, then by all means I would.
I mentioned earlier that I reached out to EA directly for the story. For transparency’s sake, I decided to show you two of the four emails I sent with the full “to” address and name blocked out for privacy reasons.
When those weren’t responded to, the decision was made to run the story with mention of the attempts. The hope was a response would come after that we would then update the story with. That ultimately never came to us, rather it was sent to the aforementioned IGN.
What Is Really Going On With Madden 22?
While it could be said that EA Sports never canceled any plans for franchise mode, SGO stands by the original story and the accuracy of the information given.
EA has a history of negative user sentiment and large backlash leading to a change the course of action. It’s been proven already with the Madden series alone when you look back at Madden 21.
If that wasn’t the case this year, why wait two days to issue a statement saying it was false. Why not respond immediately when the story was published and was being talked about? Why not address the second part of the story regarding the move of the team from Madden to NCAA?
And I know, EA’s track record is usually, as it said, is to not comment on “rumor or speculation”. But, when it’s a larger story such as this, that probably should change. To reply over 48 hours after the story broke says that not only were the planned features canceled, but that meetings were had by decision makers within the game and that the plans have been changed in some way, shape or form.
What’s also troublesome is that the response mentions waiting until 2022 to learn more about the updates. That means the earliest to learn something is five months after the game’s launch. If plans weren’t scrapped originally, it’s strange for a game that focuses on a sport that ends its season in February to wait to announce two-thirds of its updates to a mode until the real-world counterpart season is nearly over.
If the plans were there and never changed, then announcing them sooner rather than later would’ve been a smart play. But by saying players will hear more in over a month, minimum, covers the ground to change course once again. It gives the impression of simply backtracking and covering ground to calm the swell of upset fans.
And sure, EA Sports never publicly said what those two other updates would be. And that’s how a company can admittedly save face. They can put out two updates and state that these were there all along. But the fact of the matter is, the “Scouting Talent Tree” and major scenario updates were planned for those updates, and that’s no longer the case.
Myself and the rest of SGO will always stand by our original reporting. There’s no reason for us to not continue to do this moving forward. As an outlet started to help sports gamers improve and to bring them the latest on the games they love, if our reporting leads to positive outcomes for the gaming community, that makes it all worth it.