Post-Release Support From EA Sports Slows With Madden NFL 12

Posted December 17th, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Madden NFL 12 is coming upon its 16th week since releasing at the end of August. Though word of mouth has been relatively strong – leading to a better hold in sales – one area of disappointment has been post-release support in the way of patches and ‘tuners’. That is no better demonstrated than by comparing the patches that came for Madden NFL 11 vs 12 and the lack of communication regarding any current plans for future support of the title. 

By the 17th week of Madden 11 being on the market it had received its fourth post-release patch. Now, one of those was to primarily address the misstep of the ‘Strategy Pad’ and removal of legacy pre-play controls, but the other three were to improve the game and introduce new features. The final one – which was somewhat of a surprise – made heavy changes to enhance defense. None of those were throw-away patches as they they all held some significance. They didn’t change the overall perception of Madden 11 but the support led to at least some goodwill that likely carried over to Madden 12.

As opined on previously Madden 12 wasn’t in desperate need of fixing severe issues and didn’t have any design decisions that demanded being immediately addressed like the ‘Strategy Pad’ of last year. Instead it had areas of weakness that could have been enhanced upon.

The first patch did do some good and it arrived on schedule with previous years at approximately six weeks after release. It fixed the problem with constant rain for certain teams in Franchise and a QB sneak exploit, improved organization in Custom Playbooks, and attempted to improve the commentary even if just slightly.

What it didn’t do was work on punt and kick return blocking, create an actual fight for the ball between DBs and WRs, or provide better scouting options in Franchise. Those certainly don’t represent the extent of feedback-based suggestions out there but they are the ones most commonly mentioned and noted in my impressions/review.

Could another patch effectively improve those areas? Possibly – though the extent of which would be in question. ‘Tuner’ updates, which were amongst the first features for Madden 12 announced, have been mysteriously absent with EA refusing to comment on why. They may be going away from the idea (with NCAA Football 12 only receiving one) given negative response to them in other titles – or there could be a technical reason behind their absence. EA should be upfront about why rather than ignoring it and hoping everyone just as soon forget it was ever mentioned.

The significant changes to the Madden NFL development team at Tiburon could be a factor in all this. Their focus may have turned to Madden NFL 13 – more so than usual given the shifting dynamics (reportedly doubling the team and the new leadership) and the potential efforts on implementing more sweeping changes.

One of the things pointed out when assessing all the changes at Tiburon was in Roy Harvey taking over for Phil Frazier as executive producer and how Harvey’s track record wasn’t strong in the sense of communication and community interaction. That may be coming into play here as NCAA 12 struggled mightily with communication following all the severe problems it released with and there has been a distinct lack of interaction from the Madden team relative to past iterations. Request for comment on issues like the missing ‘tuners’ have brought about “non-answer” answers and questions regarding any plans for another patch have gone unanswered.

None of this necessarily should lead to panic regarding Madden NFL 12 or the future of the series – but it is all worth noting as it could either foretell the way situations will be handled or simply be a one year aberration given all the changes with the dev team.

  • I would have never thought last year that if I were to return either NCAA or Madden, it would have been NCAA. It seems to me with NCAA offenses becoming more complex and varied, along with the constant reshaping of the division landscape, and the player likeness suits, maybe EA is seeing NCAA as a lost cause?

    • NCAA is way better than Madden. Dynasty always beats Franchise since you get more competition recruiting and more teams to play against if you play on heisman. 
      You mentioned offense being more complexed they just added multiple playbooks and may do it again soon. Conference changes has been fixed since they let you re align them after the season. Player likeness is the only issue I have no problem with as long as they add more faces. I don’t think they will lose the case.

  • Corey

    My guess is that it likely has a lot to do with the new development team. With all the turnover, I doubt the new people were wanting to come in and work on patches for a game they weren’t in charge of. But I think for at least PR purposed EA Sports should publicly address the lack of support and give an acctual answer so that people won’t be nervous heading into Madden 13

  • Keith.

    Not sure where pasta gets his sales numbers but according to my sources, they’re down — even with all of the discounted sales since thanksgiving. They’ll be lucky to hit 2 million on 360 and 1.5 million on PS3 and sales have fallen off the cliff this year for PS2, Wii and PSP. I seriously doubt they get anywhere close to 5 million across all platforms this year and that used to be the floor.

    • Anonymous

      he said “hold sales” not necessarily “increase in sales” either way, it’s obvious this game is declining.  not a surprise at all…

  • madden is getting worse every year, i hate the fact that it looks like they just give in alot into the game on franchise and designing their main menu more so than the game play and playbooks. if only things can go back the way it was around the Ps2 days where defense matters or try to make it like the best next gen game Madden 10, where u were able to use diff teams like the steelers. you cant even use them because every person gets burnt on the team and steelers has some of the best D in the NFL, and to revert back to playbook wise people get tired of using the same playbooks and formations because it never changes.

    • Ravensfan52898

      madden 10 sucked ass, the gameplay was terrible and franchise was a joke…but I do agree with the best being on ps2, the best madden ever was madden 07 for ps2 period. It had all the features of madden 12 except the scouting which I could do without anyway, plus the songs were better too lol

  • Atleast try to make the game better we only had 1 patch that didnt do nothing just like what pastapadre said.

  • If they can’t get the draft class crossover right next year I will probably just rent Madden to finish a season. The bodies of the draft class guys were terrible they were ripped like they came from Blitz, maybe they were trying to promote that game. DL and OL were ripped upper body yet had skinny lower bodies. WR shoulder pads looked gross.

  • the only thing they adden in playbooks this year was the new formation split close and tigh dbl in shotgun.when i say change the playbooks i mean actually change them. forr instance the cow boys runs a cluster formation that was implemented in NCaa and not madden unbelivable. If not the books being change, atleast increase better game play these our probably reasons why their sales arent good. 

  • i just wish they didnt make the game so easy for people who struggle im sorry but theres a term hardwork pays off. just saying

  • Dymez

    The Madden NFL franchise has a history of coming out with patches and tuners after release and in a well mannered time.  Simple reason why this time around it isn’t happening the way consumers are accustomed to, and I understand why.  The team and leadership that developed this year’s game is NOT the same team that’s in charge right now.  Therefore, instead of putting in countless hours on the fixes for Madden ’12, they are currently hard at work building a foundation for Madden ’13.

    • Modman


    • “working hard” haaaaaaaa

      • More like hardly working

        • FuckEA

          We’re the dumbasses buying the game. Those clowns at EA dont need to do shit if sales are still going strong.

    • So in other words, due to EA’s organizational failure and lack of a backup/transition plan, we should just accept that the support for this year is going to be even worse than it normally is.

      EA screws up, and the answer is that the customer should continue paying the same price. EA screws up, the answer is that the customer should be punished.

      Maybe you understand, but I sure as hell don’t. Stop being a sycophant… or ‘fanboy’ if you need it spelled out. You sound like an EA press release.

      • Dymez

        Did I ever say you or anyone should accept it?  I really don’t care what you do.  None of what you said makes any sense in reply to my comment, as your comment was entirely cretinous.

        I said I “understand” because of the abrupt staff change.  There is no “organizational failure” when 80% of your staff (most importantly the ones in charge) QUIT on you.  Any corporation that goes through vast-resigning takes a hit, always.  It’s one of the fears of owning a top end corporation; there is no backup plan for that.

        It’s called being ‘intellectually inclined to understand the nature of business.’  Admittedly, you don’t.  Stop being a curmudgeon…  or ‘hater’ if you need it spelled out for you.  You sound like an imbecile.

        • JJ

          OK, official EA apologist (should I link you to the definition for this polysyllabic word?) 

          So according to you there is no such thing as accountability (sorry, lots of syllables again). Top-end corps can just shit on the consumer because they, well, can’t run their own business correctly, right? 

          Woe be unto the consumer in this collapsing capitalistic scum world we live in LOL

  • JJ

    Keep pushing pasta, you’re our voice. Don’t let them get away with anything.

  • Once again I feel “tricked” by EA Sports.  Madden ’12 was released and left to die which is a shame because it wasn’t broken out of the box as Pasta mentioned.  While I think there is a lot of work to be done (maybe even a reboot) to get it to “excellent” status, this game could have been highly playable with a series of patches to the game.  It disturbs me that some of the simplest things such as defenders doing a swat attempt in motion are broken.  I miss the PS2 animation where the DB would swat while running to defend the pass, look it up EA.

    • someone who gets wat im saying make it like the ps2 days. they should of just went off madden 10 gameplay and increase graphics,main menus, playbooks, and all of the other features no need to change the whole gameplay around each year its completely stupid

  • guest

    what’s wrong with the blocking on punts?

    • No3456

       It is virtually impossible for most people to return a punt for any meaningful yardage because the punt team doesn’t block anyone.

  • Jwallace0317

    All due respect to Pasta, but I find the “post-release support slows” assertion to be flawed, for a couple reasons.  First, it assumes that numerous patches should always come out after a game’s initial release.  Patches are just that…patches, i.e., fixes for things that are broken, and if a game comes out in good shape, like Madden 12 did, then it shouldn’t require (and you shouldn’t expect) the same number of patches to come out for it as with a game like NCAA 12, which had several broken features (player tendencies on edited rosters, custom conference snafu’s, custom playbook glitches) and a crucial gameplay aspect that was broken (no huddle).  To say that post-release support has “slowed” for Madden compared to NCAA is sort of like saying that a 2011 Lexus is “not being maintained” as well as a broken down 1985 Yugo, simply because the latter has to be taken to the shop every 3 months, while the former has needed only oil changes.  Patches are designed to fix what’s broken in a good game, not to generally improve a good game to a great game.    

    Second, more fundamentally, there is a difference between post-release support and post-release game development.  By and large, the things that a majority of gamers think should be “fixed” with Madden 12 are the kinds of improvements/adjustments that you expect to see when the next version of the game comes out.  If EA spends months after Madden 12’s release to make adjustments to Madden 12, then what would be left to promote as “improvements” for Madden 13?  If the litmus test for a patch was “will this make the game better?”, then you’d never stop making patches, and there’d never be a point where developers would actually start working on the next version of the game.  Now don’t get me wrong, I hate the concept of holding back improvements just for the sake of putting them out in next year’s version, but that’s the system we’re working with right now….we know and expect that the game is going to come out every year and we (at least, enough of us) are willing to keep buying annual versions.  The whole frame of reference changes if we ever get to where games are like memberships…like, you wouldn’t buy Madden 13 or Madden 14, you would just buy a Madden membership, which involves a one-time buy (probably downloading) of whatever version of the game is then in existence, with the expectation that as long as you’re a member EA would continually maintain the game by making regular improvements to it for years and years.  If we ever get to that point, then post-release “support” and post-release game development become synonymous.  But we’re not there.

    As far as tuners go, where EA went wrong is in the initial explanation of them.  EA hyped them, and if you didn’t pay attention closely to how they were described, you would get the impression that tuners could improve gameplay in a fundamental way, as if they could include improvements to the game’s engine.  That’s simply not what tuners do.  The only thing tuners do is affect levels and frequency, basically like sliders.  So if pass blocking is generally not as strong as it should be, a tuner update can increase pass blocking with the same effect as increasing the pass blocking slider, the difference being that the tuner update makes the new pass blocking the default level.  Note, it just increases the level…it doesn’t change how pass blocking is coded in to the game, and how it fundamentally works in the game.  Issues like blocking on kick/punt returns is a good example of why tuners are limited.  There are no blocking ratings in the game which relate solely to blocking on special teams plays…instead, the game makes use of the other ratings that are available (I’m assuming run blocking, pass blocking, or a combination of both types of ratings are utilized).  So, if EA turns down or turns up the levels on run/pass blocking just to affect kick/punt returns, it may also end up affecting run/pass blocking on actual running or passing plays.  There are obviously ways the game could be programmed so that this kind of thing doesn’t happen, but that’s the point…tuners, at least as they are right now, cannot change the core programming code of the game.

    When it comes to EA giving responses to these kinds of issues, I’m of two minds.  On the one hand, I think whenever there are newly touted game features that are broken out of the box (see again NCAA with custom playbooks), there ought to be a response by EA which explains why it did not provide what was advertised.  On the other hand, if we’re talking about things like “how come rain doesn’t seem to affect the game as much it should?” or “how come you haven’t released a patch or a tuner update that would improve the game?”, then I’m not sure why we would expect a response.  This is where, as sports gamers, we are spoiled with expectations that simply don’t make sense when you think about them in the context of other products.  Can you imagine if people expected car manufacturers to issue press releases explaining why a certain car was not made to average 35 miles per gallon of gas, as opposed to 30?  Or what about a household vacuum.  Can you imagine Dyson issuing a public statement like “we realize that a majority of Dyson purchasers think that the handle on our Dyson 2000 should be more slender…let us assure you we are working on that and will make a better handle in a future version of that vacuum.”  Or “we know a majority of you do not like the handle on our Dyson 2000 vacuum, let us explain why we think you are wrong and that nothing needs to be changed about it.”  I mean, it’s just not reasonable to expect those types of product communications from a profit-making business…but, because EA has done that type of thing on occasion, we think it’s something that should happen ALL the time, and I don’t think that makes logical sense.

    • I’ll read through your whole reply later when I have a chance, but thought I’d just respond to one of your first points. Patches are yes, primarily for implementing fixes, but high-profile titles like Madden or FIFA, or in other genres the big ones, also use them to make enhancements and provide additional value. They’re held to different standards by both the publishers and consumers.

    • No3456

      There a more than just a few bugs and major glitches in M12.

      For example QB THA and Lineman Blocking (PBK/RBK) don’t progress AT ALL.  They didn’t in M11 either.  This is one of two dozen examples.  These are not “improvements for M13 that people want”, they are clear bugs that need to be patched.

    • id

      “fixes for things that are broken, and if a game comes out in good shape, like Madden 12 did” – A moron

  • SnubbbS

    I know this is a pretty pointless thing to say but their representation of the players is pretty poor, they’re licensed by the NFL but they don’t care enough to give players their correct height and weight as they’re listed.

    Example A.J. Green in real life is listed as 6’4 204 pounds and in madden he’s 6’3 211 pounds. I just don’t understand why things are allowed to happen.

    • No3456

      AJ Green is 6’3 and 1/2.

      Either 6’3 or 6’4 would be ok.  A ton of people repeat that particular complaint but few actually bother to research his ACTUAL height.

    • mister J

      also on that note players ages aren’t right at all either, for instance Rashard Jones for the Miami Dolphins is only 22 years of age and they have him 24 this makes a big difference when playing franchise mode due to players retiring IMO.

  • Jj

    Come on EA you at least have to fix the audio popping. Combined with the terrible commentary and removal of the NFL films music the audio of this game has me reaching for the mute button. 

  • Spanky

    Spank Me!

  • Anonymous

    I think with doubling the team and what not, EA has realized it’s time to take it to the next level. But since this is EA, Im not getting my hopes up, as it’s been half a decade since the dawn of this gen of consoles and they still cant get simple things like DB/WR interaction right.

  • Anonymous

    New Patch is called Madden 13

    • No3456

      That isn’t a good thing…

  • Anonymous

    Madden plays the best game of any sports simulation when it comes to human competition. The last 3 years hands down. Sports games are meant to be played in human competition.

    It seems as though most of the people who have a problem with the game only play against the AI.

    Well let me let you in on a secret. You can go to almost every sports game that has been released in the last 20 years and the AI for the computer has sucked.

    I noticed this the first time I played Super Star hockey on the Commodore 64 which may have been the first game ever to include a franchise when I won 10 championships in a row. It did nothing for my competitive drive.  

    They are all to easy to manipulate.

    Since Fourth and Inches in 1989. I have been running leagues. If you want to fully enjoy a game you have to play against human competition.

    It is what it is. You have online play. It’s almost 2012. Get online and play someone.

    I would like to add that the reason they haven’t updated the game like previous years is because when it comes to playing against a human the game is pretty darn good.

    • No3456

      No, bugs and glitches with lack of progression or player model problems have nothing to do with the AI – and these are primary complaints.  The AI is also a major complaint but it is only 50% of the issue.

  • Anonymous

    “What it didn’t do was work on punt and kick return blocking, create an
    actual fight for the ball between DBs and WRs, or provide better
    scouting options in Franchise.”

    If this is all you have to complain about your probably not going to get a patch.

    Far as the punt blocking what I do is bring back one of the LB’s who are on the line to block.

    Once I started doing this I don’t have a problem with punt blocking. 

  • How come no one has noticed that the Depth Charts and Player management roster DO NOT Match up in the later Years of an Online Franchise?  players do not go up or down  in the depth chart as the years progress. but the player management roster  shows if the players get better or worse. but EA has not done a thing to fix that problem.. i havent even seen any forums or sites for that matter speak of this issue… i play a lot of online franchises even with the issues that the game had or currently have, and i still will play it. and that says a lot.. seeing as there are no other NFL games out there, it fills the need for the game ATM.. i think EA needs to  fix those issues and finally put out a game well deserved for the fans.. not some minor fix game that looks good but still has hardcore issues…

  • Dave Vachon

    If EA could ever figure out a way to differentiate cheesers from str8 people online so I could hit quick play online … this game would rock.
    NCAA gives you points for punting on 4th downs and what-not. Why can’t Madden use a point system like that online to differentiate guys who are tourney players and guys who aren’t?
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing tourney players, I just am not one of them. I want a str8, sim game of football. I don’t – and don’t have the skills – to play Madden for money.

  • Fai

    Theres alot of problems with Madden 12. Like theres no double tackling only in some occasions. Its to easy to strip the ball. And the defense is stupid, if you tackle the RB in the backfield your tackler will push the RB 5 yards forward instead of being smart and pushing him backwards

  • MaddenMoney


  • Perrylarry44

    wat yah talking bout this game is ground breaking cant get any better thumps up 4 me

  • mister J

    Will they at lest fix the draft class? I mean c’mon it’s horrible i don’t even feel right playing franchise mode with the incredible Hulk players.

    • Abramovich

      EA should just let us make our own draft classes

  • jackmeoff

    Madden 12. The football game for noobs.

    • JJ


      I traded in Madden 12 last week, and I must admit I felt rather guilty. You see, I got $22 in trade-in value and I honestly don’t think this game is worth more than $5.

      The funny thing is, I played Madden 11 recently and it’s hands down superior to 12 in just about every aspect. 

  • Ricklopez1230

    thats bs this game still has a loud sound popping issue that makes offline play unbearable and unplayable