Sports

EA Sports had better not push these kids away from Madden

The quality of “play” in the latest Madden clips seems questionable.

The quality of “play” in the latest Madden clips seems questionable.
Screenshot: EA Sports

The Madden franchise in recent years has shown the necessity of true competition for capitalism to function properly. Madden hasn’t competed with another NFL video game franchise since NFL 2K5. Some people have fond memories of that game, though personally I believe that’s the wannabe hipster crowd who discovered as adults with bills that there’s more money in being somewhat conventional. Regardless of personal feelings about the NFL2K series, Blitz, Unnecessary Roughness, whatever, at least for a time EA Sports was in competition with another video game.

Since 2006, Madden has been the only video game franchise with NFL image and likeness rights. So sure All Pro Football 2K8 had the legends in the game, but John Elway wasn’t on the Denver Broncos and Jerry Rice wasn’t on the San Francisco 49ers. The lack of competition has resulted in complaints about the gameplay for many years by those who still make the yearly Madden purchase. Sure the graphics are gorgeous now that there’s a third generation XBox and a fifth generation Playstation, but that doesn’t mean the gameplay has made that same enormous leap.

Some clips of the game were released recently and Marlon Humphrey was upset in a “there’s truth in jest” kind of way . He typically has a lot of fun on Twitter, such as recently when he made fun of Quandre Diggs’ gleaming white Air Monarchs. Humphrey was tagged in a clip of Madden 23 and it featured him getting truck sticked by Nick Chubb. His pride was probably a bit hurt, and he threatened in jest to sue EA Sports for something that would likely happen if he got stuck in a tight space one-on-one with Chubb, who was second in the NFL last season in yards after contact per attempt.

Humphrey does have the right to be mad, though, that the game would have his awareness that low. What cornerback would run directly at Chubb in the open field without bending his knees in any way. Chubb wouldn’t simply run that player over, he would stick him in the ground like one of the rods that measure down and distance. Humphrey’s defensive awareness must be a 4 if that’s how he approaches a tackle.

If that is what insulted him then Humphrey had every right to request that EA Sports take him out of the Madden game before he sues — even if him being in the game is a collectively bargained part of his contract. The company tried to make nice with him by tweeting out a clip of him tackling Chubb and preventing a catch. No luck EA, get your attorneys on the line.

Maybe he’s still mad because that tackle sucked. Look at his hands, they never open. Who tackles a person with their fists clenched. The entire sequence is clunky and doesn’t resemble a professional play but that wasn’t the worst of the Madden 23 clips.

In another Baltimore Ravens clip that EA tweeted out, Lamar Jackson moves only slightly more realistically than he would have in NFL Gameday ‘98. Jackson plants his right leg wide as if he’s going to put a basketball between his legs, even though, as a real quarterback, he runs much tighter than that. The next player featured in that clip is Christian McCaffrey. He breaks a tackle, but the defensive player that he eludes never touches him. It’s as if they’re two magnets repelling each other as the defensive player attempts to make contact with McCaffrey. Then, for some reason, the 49ers defender has no balance.

Madden has been a video game franchise since back when Tom Tupa was the first quarterback selected in the NFL draft. Most people who had a passing interest in sports liked the game and it has become part of American culture in the past 30-plus years. A lovely story, but if the game has another 30-plus years in it, maybe let’s focus less on pre-snap adjustments and more on the game looking like football.



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