EA’s Approach To Madden NFL 21 Feels Like A Step Backwards

EA Play (our way).

Madden NFL 21

Last night saw Microsoft showcase a host of Xbox Series X titles as part of an Xbox 20/20 presentation. While there were plenty of reveals, including more than a few horror titles, one of the main talking points was Smart Delivery.

Essentially, for all Xbox first-party games, and for the majority of third-party titles too, purchasing the game for Xbox One will grant you a free upgrade for the Xbox Series X version. Unlike previous cross-generational eras, which saw separate releases for each generation, players can simply buy one copy and enjoy the game across both generations. It’s an incredibly pro-consumer move.

After the presentation, many believed that all games shown during the event were supported by Smart Delivery, but one publisher that hasn’t opted in is EA. Madden NFL 21 was announced during the event, however it was revealed after the showcase that Madden would have its own upgrade system, which has been outlined in the tweet below.

Essentially, any player who purchases Madden NFL 21 on Xbox One before December 31st will be able to upgrade to the Xbox Series X version, but only so long as they upgrade to the Xbox Series X by March 31st, 2021. Clearly, there’s nothing players love more than deadlines.

While yes, EA could have easily just said “nah, you’re buying two copies” straight out of the gate, this kind of approach is just baffling. Microsoft have made a note of saying that Smart Delivery is there for developers and publishers to use at their discretion, but EA have instead decided to opt for some halfway house approach that could potentially leave lots of gamers feeling shortchanged.

Obviously, it’s not the first time that EA have attempted to earn a little bit more money, and this most recent attempt comes just a week or so after it was announced that Burnout Paradise: Remastered would be coming to the Nintendo Switch for the extortionately high price of £44.99/$49.99. A full price launch for a near 12 year old game just doesn’t seem fair to the consumer, even if you’ll soon be able to take on Road Rage events while on the toilet, and EA appear to be holding onto this approach with its other franchise’s too.

It’s worth noting that there were other games mentioned during last night’s stream that weren’t confirmed for Smart Delivery; those games being Bright Memory: Infinite, The Medium and Scorn. However, of those three games, only Bright Memory: Infinite has any mention of a potential Xbox One release on the Xbox Store pages. That means that for the other two releases, Smart Delivery doesn’t appear to be an issue.

On top of that, Bright Memory: Infinite appears to be shooting for a 2021 release window at least, so launch plans obviously haven’t been finalised. It’s entirely possible that Smart Delivery will be confirmed later down the line, when the developer and publisher have a better idea of whether or not its worth launching a game on the Xbox One at all. At some point, support for the older console will have to end, but Smart Delivery should help make that transition easier.

Meanwhile, the Madden series is an annual game, so EA likely have a timeframe for its release (or as much of a timeframe as you could possibly have given “The Event”), and yet they’ve decided to ignore Smart Delivery altogether. It’s a boneheaded decision, and one that should prompt anyone who plays Madden to ask the question of whether or not Madden NFL 21, and by extension EA, deserve your money.

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