Madden 23 Franchise Mode: This is real progress

Madden 23 Franchise Mode: This is real progress

After several frustrating years for franchise mod fans in the Madden community, EA is finally showing significant, tangible and promising improvements to the mod.

On Friday, EA took a deep dive into what’s new in franchise mode for the upcoming Madden 23, and while not every box is checked, there’s a lot to like.


Free agency additions

The new free agency system is set to greatly improve the franchise mode experience. There is an obvious attempt to create storylines and alternate universes that free agency in sports—more specifically the NFL—provides.

Per EA: “During the first phase of free agency, each team will only be able to offer a contract to up to 5 players during each eval period. This will help ensure that a few teams can’t just come in and sign all the top free agents right away.”

The act of gamifying this concept is where the challenge for developers comes in. It sounds like a powerful design, but we won’t know for sure until we get a chance to play with it once the retail version goes live.

EA added more information along these lines. “In the early stages of free agency, you have to be careful who you offer to because you can’t go after who you want. In the second phase of free agency, you can offer up to 10 players in each eval period, and then in phase 3, you can offer an unlimited amount to the remaining free agents.”

Why do users have fewer options in the early stages of free agency? In theory, this makes sense considering that’s usually when teams more aggressively pursue the most desirable free agents. EA explains:

“Although it is more limited in the initial stage, it is compensated by the second feature, evaluation. During each week of free agency, 3 evals can be offered; All offers are played when triggered so players can accept/reject the deal or make a final decision without needing to advance the week. This will give each team more opportunity to go back and forth with a player during negotiations and/or perhaps allow you to change direction if you get feedback that the player is not interested in signing with you.”

What decides whether a player will be considered for your team? This is where Madden 23’s franchise mode takes their biggest leap. They implemented “Player Motivation”. Players and teams seem to have their own unique wants and needs, which would ideally provide the user with the give and take that makes free agency and recruiting fun in sports video games.

Here’s a look at EA’s motivations per player:

Super Bowl Chase

Assessed throughout the season, teams in position to contend for the Super Bowl will be prime destinations for these players.

Like Von Miller, Buffalo Bills.

Historic Championship

The preference is toward a franchise with a winning culture that has shown the ability to bring home the Lombardi Trophy time after time.

Historical records of head coaches

Top level coaches who have proven their contribution to winning games will better recruit players to come on board.

Scheme fit

Players will look to match the team’s offensive or defensive plans to best showcase their talents on the field.

At the top of the depth chart

These players are looking to start in their position, plain and simple.

The team has a franchise QB

Playing with an elite quarterback is a dream for many. If your QB has the “Franchise QB” player tag, they will help you bring these players into the mix.

Like Russell Gage, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Consultant in the post

Developing players can find mentors to help them get to the next level. They want to see a player on your team in their position with the “mentor” player tag.

Home pass

Does your city bring a player closer to his family? The distance between your stadium and a player’s home state can be a big draw.

Like Jarvis Landry, New Orleans Saints.

big market

Opportunities off the field can be just as interesting as they are. Big market players are looking to showcase themselves in the world’s biggest cities.

Tax free state

Payday isn’t always the same when taxes are involved. Groups in states with no income tax provide additional incentives for some.

Warm climate states

Sun and fun. States that stay warm in winters will welcome these players.

Maximum offer

Sometimes it’s all about the money. Players will think less about how you fit their interests and are just looking for the biggest deal.

Each player starts with 3 motivations, but these are dynamic and will change over the course of a player’s career.

Apart from player motivation we have player tags. If it works well, it will help all but eliminate the annoying trends we’ve suffered from past Madden franchise modes. Player tags will help prevent teams from drafting a quarterback every year even though they already have a young, potential franchise player.

Tags serve as placeholders that can tell the game’s algorithm which players it should draft, trade, and sign in free agency. Here are the player tags:

Award winner

Players who win annual awards will draw even more interest during free agency, creating heated competition to land the biggest available names.

Franchise QB

Top QBs and those poised to take the league by storm will hold a valuable position with their team. Not only will they appeal for some motivation, teams won’t replace them through free agency or the draft.

Bridge QB

The journeyman quarterback fills the most important role for a team. These players will keep the seat warm as the team looks to draft the next heir to the throne.

The QB of the future

Recently drafted and ready to take the reins. These quarterbacks will be given starting roles as they move closer to current starters in OVR

Day 1 Starter

Elite players are ready to make a difference on the field the moment they are drafted. Their starters will be prioritized and secure their position, causing the team to look elsewhere in future drafts.

Future starter

These developing players have high ceilings, but may not be ready to play right away. While they wait for their turn to begin, they will gain additional XP during weekly training.

Bridge player

Filling gaps across the roster, these players would either allow for split time with Up and Kamers or signal the team’s need to upgrade this position in the draft.

consultant

Experienced leadership cannot be underestimated. Weekly training XP boosts will be given to all players who share a location with a mentor.

Like Bobby Wagner, Los Angeles Rams.

Trade goals

Whether it’s a young player without a realistic shot at a starting spot or a veteran without a hole to fill, these players will be put on the team’s trade block in search of a better fit.

It could also be a game-changer.


Scouting has also seen some big improvements

Another important part of the offseason overhaul is in the changes made to scouting. You will be able to scout more positions with each level of scouting time.

According to EA, there are positional groupings. I’m not sure where quarterback falls, but I’m sure there’s a place for the most important players on the field.

  • Arabic: Running Backs (Halfbacks and Fullbacks)
  • OT: Offensive Tackle (Left Tackle and Right Tackle)
  • IOL: Interior Offensive Linemen (Left Guard, Center, and Right Guard)
  • D.E: Protective edge (left edge and right edge)
  • OLB: Outside Linebacker (Left Outside Linebacker and Right Outside Linebacker)
  • come: Security (Free Security and Strong Security)

The attribute reveal process is designed to show more relevant information more often. Releases were very random and potentially unimportant in past versions

Another solid addition to scouting and drafting is improving the diversity of the draft class. Take a look at some of the player profiles that will be offered in the draft class.

Generational potential

Generational is exactly what they sound like. These templates are based on a generation of prospects that have taken the league by storm. These players will come into leagues rated incredibly highly by prospect value and come with a guaranteed X-Factor DEV trait. With that being said, these players will have the least chance of making all of our templates, so they’ll be hard to find but worth the wait.

99 club possibilities

No, it won’t be a total of 99 players. The 99 Club prospects are players who will bring an elite skill set to the NFL. We wanted these players to be fun but reasonably realistic. Because of this, you will never see a player come into the league with a 99 rated pass accuracy or 99 awareness. But you might see a QB with 99 Throw Power, a Receiver with 99 Spectacular Catch, or a Safety with 99 Hit Power. However, this does not automatically mean that they will be elite players, just that they are good at a certain skill.

High variation potential

High variance potential is true boom or bust potential. These probabilities increase the volatility of their OVRs to a wider than normal range on their fuzzy properties. This thought process extends to their DEV feature where we give these players a 50/50 chance of being ordinary or superstar with very little chance of star or superstar X-factor.

Specialist potential

Specialist prospects are players who are a little outside the box and break the mold of our typical archetype prospects and are either unique to their position or specialize in a specific area. Such prospects include quarterbacks who excel in play action, edge and interior rushers who lack size as well as linebackers who excel as run stoppers or pass coverage but offer little in the way of options.


What are we still missing?

I spoke with Connor Duggan and Clint Oldenburg of the Madden development team to confirm a few things that weren’t addressed in the initial franchise mode.

In Madden 23, the NFL Draft still won’t have the advanced presentation that many believe arguably befits the most exciting day of the football season.

Also, we still can’t create teams and rearrange divisions like you can in NBA 2K’s MyNBA. We are still missing the inclusion of Legends in Ultimate Team in Franchise mode. This is something available in NBA 2K and MLB The Show’s franchise mode.

Many fans, like Madden content creator Eric Rayweather, are looking for differences between the schedule and the biggest games in the postseason. Rayweather has several desirable, but still missing features for Franchise mode.

Mini camp drills? Of course yes. Create a team? yes

Even with those limitations, it’s hard not to recognize the real progress made with the fan-favorite mod.

While that’s solid growth, fans of Franchise Mode would probably prefer to see EA end the run with more post-release improvements and perhaps the final steps taken for Madden 24.

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