Breaking down the new player ratings spread for Madden NFL 20

Posted June 30th, 2019 at 7:00 am

Spreading out the player ratings is something many fans of sports games including myself have advocated for over the years. Doing so would help differentiate the superstars from the solid contributors, from the replacement-level players and especially those that rarely see action. Beyond that though it would also add considerable intrigue into the team-building process in Franchise Mode.

This has actually been attempted a few times in the past however developers have quickly reverted to a top-heavy ratings system to avoid conflict with the players, their agents, and the leagues concerned over perception. Hopefully EA will stick to it this time. When combined with the X-Factor Abilities this Madden looks to have the potential to be the most realistic, strategic, and challenging entry in recent memory due in part to the new ratings scale.

In a recent developer blog the changes were detailed and the results of the changes laid out by the numbers. The biggest shift by far has occurred in players previously rated under 85. That should prove to further accent the league’s top-level players.

Our goals for this stretch were to help further the effort of the gameplay team’s Superstar and Superstar X-Factor abilities, and to truly make players (even if they don’t have abilities) feel different from one another.

To begin that process, we laid out a set of individual goals. To start, we divided players into tiers based on their on-field performance. The tiers, which were a bit rougher than truly defined, were as follows:

♦Elite/near elite players
♦Quality starters
♦Low level starters
♦Low-level backups

By increasing the ratings of the elite/near elite players, and decreasing the ratings of everyone else, the stars began to stand out even more than they did before. We went through every single attribute in the game and stretched them by position. For example, in Madden 19 there were 53 corners with 80 or better Man Coverage. There are 42 in Madden 20. We also raised the ceilings on some of those ratings to further the gap between the elite and the rest.

Next, we re-defined what is considered “starter quality,” which is probably the biggest change of this system. In Madden 19, 54% of the roughly 2,900 players (including free agents) were 70 OVR or better. In Madden 20, 41% of the players are at 70 OVR or better, which means that both low-level starters and depth players can be rated in the 60s—and maybe even 50s. From a gameplay perspective, this creates a drastic drop off from starter to backup. This solves a big issue. In previous Maddens, backups were almost plug-and-play if a starter was injured. But now, with the severe drop off in ratings, starters will have a distinct feel, while you will struggle much more with their replacements.

Furthermore, we slightly tweaked the overall formulas for every player archetype. With the changes we made to the QB (the West Coast archetype has been changed to Improviser) and WR archetypes (changing Possession to Route Runner and changing Red Zone Threat to Physical) we wanted to ensure that players were being labelled correctly. We created new overall formulas for these archetypes and adjusted the weights on the existing overall formulas to put a greater emphasis on the more impactful ratings per position.

Lastly, the greatest ratings stretch occurred for QB Throw Power, which is paired with the gameplay changes to pass trajectory. Without getting too deep into the pass trajectory mechanics, we lowered the maximum velocity for passes to help add more trajectory to all throw types. Because of this, players with high throw power will have less trajectory than QBs with weaker arms. In Madden 19, 53 QBs had a Throw Power of 90 or better, with 80 being the lowest. In Madden 20, 18 QBs are at 90 or higher Throw Power, with 72 as the lowest at the position. Every single QB is still a viable gameplay option, but you will need to pick your passer carefully to ensure they fit your playstyle.

With all these alterations in place, here are the differences between Madden 19 and Madden 20:

95+ OVR Madden 19 (25), Madden 20 (22)
90+ OVR Madden 19 (78), Madden 20 (72)
85+ OVR Madden 19 (228), Madden 20 (188)
80+ OVR Madden 19 (508), Madden 20 (391)
75+ OVR Madden 19 (949), Madden 20 (717)
70+ OVR Madden 19 (1590), Madden 20 (1177)