I really don’t envy any developer who has to make a cross-gen sports game. Not only does the new version have to sell the improvements of the updated tech, but they also have to make sure the current-gen version is up to snuff, all while innovating on the formula. That latter requirement is something that most sports titles struggle with as is, let alone when juggling multiple versions of the same game.
It’s fair to say that Madden NFL 21 (though everyone just calls it Madden 21) hasn’t managed to impress pretty much anyone so far. At this time of writing, it sits at a 0.4 user score for its PlayStation 4 version on Metacritic from 1617 ratings, comfortably making it the worst user reviewed game in the website’s history.
To put into perspective just how negatively Madden 21 has been received by the community, it has 13 positive reviews from players in total. Thirteen. That makes 0.80% of reviews that are positive. Adding to that, these reviews come after Metacritic made changes so that players couldn’t review-bomb new games on release day. Players sat and stewed on Madden 21 and then came to tear it down all the same. That’s dedication to hate.
As for why Madden 21 has been lambasted so widely, it comes back to that cross-gen issue. Not only does it seem that Madden 21 has done more or less nothing to push the franchise forward and has some key features and modes missing, but it also come with a raft of technical issues.
The game has been so poorly received, in fact, that the #NFLDropEA hashtag has been spreading over the last couple of days, Madden fans asking the NFL to take the license from EA and give it to another developer. This is a familiar situation for EA, who previously upset Star Wars fans with Battlefront II’s horrendous monetisation so much that they lobbied Disney to give the license to another publisher instead.
Like I said, I really wouldn’t want to be a sports game developer right now. It’s always an awkward transition for sports games between console generations, so it will be interesting to see how the likes of FIFA fare this year. Considering that FIFA 21 looks almost exactly the same as 20, which also looked the same as 19, this might not be the only controversial sports game of the year.
Madden NFL 21 is available now on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
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