On Monday EA Sports turned to promoting Ultimate Team mode for Madden NFL 15. After months of consumers waiting on Franchise news, it was the most disconcerting development yet. Typically Ultimate Team is held for last, when the greatest number of people are seeking out information on the upcoming game, as the company attempts to draw in that more casual audience to their revenue-generating mode.
Franchise has been talked about in May and June in the past, when those paying attention are of a somewhat more hardcore crowd. Thankfully a blurb on retailer sites added some vague info on a couple new features to soften the frustration.
Clearly Ultimate Team is where EA would hope to push more consumers. But is that happening at a cost to Franchise mode? Whether it is or isn’t, that is going to be the perception if nothing noteworthy was implemented in the mode. I sought reaction to what it would mean if Franchise mode wasn’t improved significantly and the response was swift and emphatic.
The vast majority, overwhelming really, of well over 100 replies suggested it would have an impact on their purchase decision. Just some examples of that sentiment:
@pastapadre first year I won't buy since 2000
— Adam P. Boyd (@adampboyd) July 28, 2014
@pastapadre First time I'm not buying Madden since probably 1995.
— Andrew Retz (@ajretz) July 28, 2014
@pastapadre it's fallen off my must buy list
— Scott Burress (@ExtremeGamer) July 28, 2014
@pastapadre I'll say this; having a full year to prepare for next-gen, if Madden doesn't add to franchise mode, I'm done with the series
— Brandon Crockett (@BCrock2314) July 28, 2014
@pastapadre I'm still on 360. I am not paying $60 if they didn't add anything to Franchise.
— Hordon Gayward (@Tuh_Witter) July 28, 2014
@pastapadre Becomes a rental. Will play it, but see no reason to buy.
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) July 28, 2014
@pastapadre will buy it used then. Gameplay improvements look great, but if franchise isn't improved it will lose replay value way too quick
— Myles Gilbert (@GILMYL) July 28, 2014
@pastapadre franchise mode is all i play if nothing done than it goes from a purchase to maybe a gamefly
— Nick M (@Nick327) July 28, 2014
@pastapadre plan on getting it pre-owned.
— marcINArcadia (@MarcRader68) July 28, 2014
@pastapadre No way am I buying it!
— Jason DiRienzo (@sony8402) July 28, 2014
A handful of respondents would grudgingly buy the game despite their disappointment. Represented by these examples:
@pastapadre I will buy it. Even after I tell myself I won't.
— EnerG21 (@EnerG21) July 28, 2014
@pastapadre Still buying it, but I'll be furious once again. They waste so much time/resources w crap features and don't built on best part
— Aleksander Egebjerg (@AEgebjerg) July 28, 2014
@pastapadre Still plan to buy, but I may wait-and-see, rather than purchase day one.
— Gary Greene Jr (@greenegt) July 28, 2014
@pastapadre Buying no matter what,will be disappointed expect this was more of a fine tuning then major overhaul,we'll see
— ovfd55 (@ovfd55) July 28, 2014
@pastapadre I can accept it for another year as long as the core gameplay mechanics are improved as advertised
— Ryan (@Ryno__) July 28, 2014
@pastapadre will buy it because it's football, but will be mad and will start playing NBA games a lot sooner than in past
— Justin (@TribeWarpath) July 28, 2014
A small number of people have complete disinterest in the mode so any advancements made there would be irrelevant to them. A few examples of that:
@pastapadre id buy it no matter what cause i play ultimate team just as much and in my opinion i still have fun with franchise mode
— Brendon Harrington (@Bharrington24) July 28, 2014
@pastapadre not one bit. as a MUT player, haven't touched franchise in…. well, I guess ever. I'm extremely excited about m15
— Chris Burnley (@MexicanNinja88) July 28, 2014
Word all along has been to not expect anything monumental for Franchise. Now, that wouldn’t prevent there from being meaningful improvements, but they may not be that confident in marketing them. What was first known was that there would be some new uniforms for relocated teams and maybe some new cities as well. Nothing else was presented until the retailer summary which added the new details on developing players and fluctuating “confidence” levels affecting performance.
Is that enough? Some will hope they’re holding back to make a splash but that has not been the M.O. for EA and especially when it comes to Franchise. The most recent examples are the introduction of Connected Careers in Madden NFL 13 (announced in the lead-up to E3 in early June) and Owner Mode in Madden NFL 25 (revealed in May). Those represented huge revolutions and additions and they were the focus much earlier in the marketing schedule.
It should be noted that Franchise mode will be improved just by incorporating the improved gameplay and presentation elements. But there is an apparent importance to treating the mode with a certain level of respect and dedication when compared to other areas such as Ultimate Team. Clearly a lot of people are looking for something here that EA has yet to provide.
Whether Franchise is the most important mode Madden’s success is questionable, but what isn’t is how it affects the more dedicated year-to-year fans that after hemorrhaging those types over the last decade EA can’t afford to keep losing…no matter how much money they may bring in with Ultimate Team.