Hashtags, Lip Service, and What Could Have Been #FixMaddenFranchise

If you have visiting NoobTubeTV at any point since 2011 you have most likely come across a Madden article of some sort. The efforts I have made to improve roster quality, gameplay, and franchise mode experiences are quite apparent. Now, in the age of Twitter and hashtag social movements, we have finally poked the bear that is EA Sports. The #FixMaddenFranchise hashtag was trending in late June after what was supposed to be the long awaited Franchise Mode “upgrade” only to once again be another kick in the “goal post”. Then came the most empty apology I’ve heard from a game developer (https://twitter.com/EAMaddenNFL/status/1278795979924344834).

Moral of the story is this – Madden 21 will not have an updated Franchise Mode. They have no details about what they are going to do because they have NO PLANS TO ACTUALLY MAKE THIS MODE BETTER! They have said this same garbage for over a decade. It’s honestly pathetic and I am done with buying Madden until I see true growth in Franchise Mode. It simply isn’t worth my money or your money anymore.

The thing is – it isn’t a surprise to see such a high potential mode get neglected year after year. For almost a decade Josh Looman was put in charge of Franchise Mode in some way or another. His acumen was supposed to be related to the NFL Head Coach games that sold a whopping 17 copies… okay, maybe they sold more than that – be honest, you didn’t buy it new – you got it used in the GameStop bargain bin if you did buy it. There was some good stuff on those games to be sure, but the Franchise Mode fanbase didn’t want Head Coach – we wanted Franchise Mode to be a living world of NFL History of our own making with intelligent CPU decision making both in the front office and on the sidelines. We got neither of those things over the last 15 years.

I have always held out hope that EA Sports would wake up and see what they had back in Madden 2005’s Franchise Mode. That never happened because the onset of online gaming and the Ultimate Team cash cow that has overtaken sports game culture. The pay to win and play/grind to build a team of superstars might be great for those that can afford the money or time. There are a lot of other gamers out there that want to play a sports game without having to worry about facing an online opponent that will do anything to win rather than play a good game of football.

There are all sorts of manifestos out there about what would make Franchise Mode a perfect mode for those of us that want it to be more enjoyable. I’m almost positive that EA Sports has made the corporate decision to trash Franchise Mode because it makes them no extra money. That is the corporate way and the demands of stock holders. Face it – the truth hurts when you have to realize that the things you like don’t make them worthwhile to those providing them.

I have given input on what Franchise Mode needs to do in order to improve. I am going to post a new exhaustive article soon to outline everything Madden needs to do in order to get my business.

I am skeptical that they will ever deliver.

Don’t buy Madden 21.

MLB The Show Franchise Mode – Sponsorships

For those of you that try to find the little joy that there is to be found in Franchise Mode there is some good news about sponsorships.

They give you money while simming!

There are some sponsorships that are better than others.

The best sponsorships are for offensive categories or the Game Played/Won sponsorships.

While the Silver through diamond ratings are simply levels of money for any given stat – the one thing that matters is that you know your playstyle and your team. If you are one of the few that plays every single game you might have a good reason to switch it up based on those specific aspects you know about your team and playstyle.

There are some things that are worth your time to know. The first is that offensive categories are generally limitless. You get as many hits and home runs as you can – there is no stopping you! However, the same can’t be said for strikeouts or double plays.

Let’s assume all the sponsorships we have are diamond (they are among the cheapest cards in the game compared to Diamond Dynasty Players and Equipment). Let’s say you strike out 10 batters with the strike out sponsorship ($3,500) – that ends up bringing you $35,000 – not bad. If you strike out 20 – $70,000. Usually you have 9 innings to play with and that ends up being $94,500 if you strike out every player in a perfect game.

To make playing defense even less desirable, Double-Plays are worth $20,000 on the diamond tier. These aren’t incredibly common and they aren’t exactly something you ‘try’ to get each game as it means you need to allow an opponent to get on base.

By far, your best option is to either stake your sponsorships with Diamond Home Runs or Runs Scored.

The second thing to remember is what we mentioned first… SIMMING COUNTS YOUR STATS! This is free money for your franchise mode team – don’t throw it away!

Setting Up Your MLB The Show 20 Franchise Mode

When you start your Franchise Mode in any sports game it usually comes with the hopes and dreams of playing multiple seasons and creating an experience filled with drama, intrigue and a team that will DESTROY EVERY OTHER TEAM IN THE LEAGUE!!!!… Ummm, excuse me.

The hardest part about keeping your Franchise alive is making sure it doesn’t get dull or cumbersome. Some of the best I have had in recent memory involved using a team that might not be my favorite, but at least one I could cheer for in some way in real life. You’d never find me running a Michigan Dynasty or using any AFC North team that isn’t the Browns.

This will be the second time in three years that I have chosen to use the Cincinnati Reds as my team. This time I wanted to show you how I go about setting up my MLB Franchise Mode (FM) to provide my baseball fix as well as a lot of fun (don’t tell the FM demigods at Operation Sports you’re having fun – it isn’t allowed over there).

The video below will walk you through my initial setup and thoughts – skip around a bit as I was busy doing other things at a few points.

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What’s In The Patch? – The Horror of the Unknown In Gaming

At some point you have experienced a ‘title update’ in your PC or console gaming experience. It has become a weekly practice for most developers of games with massive communities to implement ‘fixes’ for any number of issues or glitches in their software. While this wasn’t common for most console gamers until the dawn of Xbox 360/PS3 almost 15 years ago it has been around for PC gamers for some time. Regardless, when you are greeted with the screen or notification that you have to download an update before playing your game online – you know that means some things will be different when you restart the game.

The problems most gamers have with patching their games stem from not knowing that there is going to be a Godzilla sized patch designed to decimate your digital version of Tokyo (or wherever the hell Godzilla shows up in movies). The idea of a patch being over 15 GB has become normal – which is a terrifying thing to consider when you realize how much data that is (especially if your hard drive is now suddenly short on space). The true fear comes from gamers that have been playing a game that suddenly gets ‘fixed’ and all hell breaks loose.

For a quick moment in time Call of Duty Warzone had a glitch that allowed players with the full Modern Warfare version of the game to create custom gun loadouts with any attachment and save those blueprints for custom weapons they could use in Warzone without having to unlock the gun itself or attachments. This seems like a silly exploit to some, but it suddenly evened the playing field for those that are casual gamers or those that have the free Warzone game and not MW. What made matters worse? The discovery that akimbo .357 Magnums are the most over-powered secondary weapons in the game (after RPGs, maybe). With the proper loadout, the dual wielded weapons make you into a two-shot beast. I was among those that went to make my own OP Magnum class the other day only to see that the loophole was now gone. The patch came and destroyed my dream to join the hypocrite ‘pro’ gamers that use exploits but cry when they fall to their own creation.

The good news is that patching a game is necessary and one of the biggest fixes I have seen in Warzone is the implementation of finding the hackers and cheaters and making them all play against each other. The only thing I can think that would make this better is if Infinity Ward decided to limit the map for cheaters to be in the Prison section of the map.

If you are among those that see updates for your favorite games downloading and want to know more about what has changed you can usually find out most of the changes with a simple Google search or hit up the sub-Reddit for the game and see if the details have been posted. Developers know how important their games are to their fans, the good ones do a great job of letting you know when things have changed.

Warzone – Why I’m Worried About the New Modern Warfare Battle Royale

First, let me say I am truly excited about this new mode. They did a great job of trying to ignore the rumors while also making it look like they intended to let this game go the way of Ghosts (the only COD I ever bought and sold before the next came out). Even then, I probably could have kept playing Blackout until November, 2020 if I really had to. The problem with this is the fact that Modern Warfare has some really great foundational function but when it comes to the modes involving large amounts of players there are some serious issues.

The most glaring issues can be found in Ground War. There are constantly new exploits and broken map locations. Sometimes you will spawn into one just because your teammate is a cheat. Other times you find it on accident. If only the problem was just map function – that could be fixed over time. What has been covered is the two sided issue of cross-platform match making and the inherent unfairness of allowing PC gamers to play with console gamers. This isn’t to discard the other aspect that plagues Ground War, frame rate.

I don’t have issues with the philosophy of cross-platform at its core. I think the idea is wonderful in a vacuum. The problem is PC gamers generally have better hardware than console gamers. This isn’t always the case, but more often than not it is and it can give PC players a leg up. Add the fact that I still find myself in matches with people that are using keyboard and mouse, it becomes an instant lobby exit when I see that icon.

The other side is the fact that Ground War has some serious frame rate issues with just small maps. If you’ve played Black Ops 4’s Blackout mode you have no doubt noticed some occasional laggy player movement as long distances through your scope. I challenge anyone playing Ground War to use a sniper rifle and tell me that sniping at a long distance doesn’t feel clunky. Put that into a map like we have seen for Warzone with 100 to 200 players and you have a clunk fest of laggy opponents jumping and ducking around like it’s North Korean Whack-A-Mole. If Warzone has the same problems on a bigger scale that plague Ground War, it’s going to be a quick move back to Blackout for a lot of people.

Madden 20 – Review and Sliders

The Browns are going to be awesome – DEAL WITH IT!

I pulled the trigger and got one month of EA Access for PS4 the other day. It was a nice way to rent Madden 20 and get a feel for what changed in Franchise Mode this year. The verdict is rather mixed. I was pleasantly surprised by the feel of the gameplay as a whole. There were some obnoxious animations that did happen in my first game or two that made me roll my eyes and even got a bit of a laugh as well. The real eye roll happened after I got a message from Jarvis Landry following a big win (more on that to follow). The worst part I experienced was seeing that the Pro Bowl game existed as a playable feature. Seriously – NOBODY CARES!!!! Why is it that we have more concern about the Pro Bowl than we do about players being named All Pro? If you look into the actual accolades that truly matter in the NFL it is whether someone is considered to be the top performer at their position – not if they are voted onto an all star team that no one cares about.

Starting the season with my beloved Browns was a great feeling. Finally, if I take my team to the Super Bowl in the first season of Franchise Mode, I won’t have the ‘realism nazis’ telling me I need to adjust sliders or play the game with my toes. The change to overall ratings was one of the first aspects I noticed. The available free agents don’t make you drop half of your roster to pick up new guys like in past iterations of Madden where you might find a few guys in the upper 70s or low 80s that you can build into monsters. This year, it really is a matter of picking through a garbage heap if you need to find a replacement – Quarterback is the most noticeable in this endeavor. Having a great backup QB is going to be a nice commodity if you find a gem in the draft. However, you should fully expect to lose a future star if you aren’t willing to pay him.

One thing that hasn’t changed in Madden is the terrible trade logic. I was able to move Duke Johnson to the Eagles for a 1st Round Pick. I was also able to move on from other players and acquire mid to late round picks with ease. This is definitely another year where we will have to implement house rules just to keep ourselves honest.

One addition that is supposedly going to be updated regularly in Franchise Mode (most likely in Cloud Based Franchises if I had to bet on it) is the dialogue options from your players that make demands like more targets or more attention as a whole in an upcoming game. One instance had Jarvis Landry ask me to target him in our game against Baltimore. We beat the Ravens by 20+ points and I targeted him on over 10 passing attempts. He caught four and went for 84 yards – he dropped two on crossing routes and missed an endzone grab in the corner. The others were batted down or overthrown. Here is a rundown of how that went after the game was over.

Not bad, Jarvis
Nevermind, GTFO.

So it goes, Franchise has added some cool ideas. I hope they get fixed and polished up a bit, but in the long run, I think there are good things ahead.

Moving on to gameplay – here are the initial settings I will be using after play-testing sliders and penalties as well as stat checking some stupidly high scoring games.

The biggest changes from years past is going to most likely be the move of Facemask penalties, I saw over six in more than 3 games. It was happening way too much. Also, Robo QB is back and worse than ever in some ways. I recommend moving the slider down until you get the proper feel for the CPU completion % – currently, I have the slider at 39, but it might have to go to 35.

All of the sliders and settings are set to All Pro for now simply because All Madden still seems to cheat the user rather than provide a real challenge – a big difference, in my opinion.

Originally, I had planned on not buying Madden until I could get it on sale, but in the world of supply and demand – you all demand the Madden coverage, and I am happy to supply it to the best of my ability.

Also, I do not plan on playing MUT for any serious amount of time other than to get easy trophies out of it or to play solo grinds when I want a change from Franchise Mode. It is a pay to win game mode and I choose not to pay. Good luck to those of you that choose to continue with the dark side.

GO BROWNS!

Madden 20 Is Coming, Whether It Should Or Not

In just a couple weeks we will finally get our chance to boot up our annual dose of football gaming. With the typical cosmetic changes they like to call ‘improvements’ from year to year, we, the customers gamers are consistently let down when it comes to improvements in any mode that isn’t Madden Ultimate Cash Cow Team. In the process and over time the expectation has changed for this title. It has become almost acceptable in the eyes of sports gamers to have the same stale game presented with new colors of the same old glitter bedazzleing the same old mass produced massive disappointment that is Madden NFL.

Madden has become the litmus test for every other sports game to follow suit when it comes to ultimate team modes (a glorified playable fantasy football mode with a pay to win structure). NBA 2K (MyTeam) and MLB The Show (Diamond Dynasty) are similar in their own recent track records. All resources are being poured into ultimate team modes from the corporate level. One mustn’t forget that all of these games are produced and published by corporations like EA, Take Two, and Sony. The bottom line is we need to know what to expect as consumers when it comes to sports games (and first person shooters with an online Multiplayer focus) and it is incredibly simple. Our expectations should follow the psychological necessity to have better things than others and to win at whatever cost we are willing to pay.

The moment you realize your once favorite game has become a corporate sellout with zero appeal to you.

If you aren’t the type of person to pay for any digital content outside of the game itself, you aren’t the focus of corporations like EA and Take Two. The profit margin they make on you is minimal compared to those that pour real money directly into the coffers of these corporations by purchasing add on content such as loot boxes, digital currency or cosmetic changes to your weapons. That means that for the most part I am actually not their target audience.

I have finally decided to stop taking it personally simply because I refuse to give them the satisfaction. Instead, we need to find ways to change the game to fit our own needs. As a friend once told me, ‘Play the game or the game plays you.’ – in this case it is 100% correct. I refuse to buy a single pack of digital cards for ultimate team modes. I will use in game currency I earn by playing and I will play every game with the intent of enjoying my time rather than under the perception that winning means anything different from losing when the playing field isn’t level to begin with.

Here we are, two weeks from Madden 20 and I haven’t ever been less excited about this title. Franchise Mode is getting no real improvements and Ultimate Team has all sorts of perks attached to it with pre-order bonuses. The only improvements they mentioned for Franchise Mode (CFM) involved using title updates later, after release. They didn’t even mention whether you’d have to restart your CFM in order to have the update in an existing save.

Madden 20 might have some shine to it in the first week or two, but there isn’t enough shine for me to buy this game on release day.

Disposable Teammates – The Downside of Apex Legends

If you haven’t noticed, there is a new kick ass game out there on PS4, XBox One and PC and it also happens to be free to play.

Apex Legends still hasn’t lost its luster in almost every way but one. Unless you have a lot of friends that have adopted this game as their primary go-to FPS Battle Royale you are essentially doomed to get paired up with random players. My experience to this point as a level 20 player has been getting paired up with level one and two players that don’t use mics. Usually I don’t mind being on a team with noobs. In case you haven’t noticed the name of the website – I understand noobs and the plight of being one.

The worst part about the current matchmaking is that if you find a couple gamers you enjoy playing with Respawn hasn’t implemented a way for you to stick together. One thing Blackout has done a decent job of doing is having a section of ‘Recent Players’ that you can access between rounds. This wouldn’t seem like a big deal as so many teammates go by the wayside when you get into a match and die in the first 20 seconds – but on those few occasions you get paired up with a couple decent Apex players, it would go a long way to be able to team up with them or even add them to your friends list after the match.

Hopefully this is something they can take care of in the near future. Rumor has it that they are already working on things like this for the game. If only the developers at Call of Duty listened to the community as much as Respawn seem to… for now, we can still smile about the fact that at least we have Apex to play instead of the Blackout which has suddenly become more stale than your grandmother’s Christmas candy.

Apex Legends Just Killed Blackout – In Three Days

I didn’t know what Apex Legends was last week. I didn’t know it was in development, let alone coming out on consoles and PC – for free. I was knee deep in Call of Duty Blackout shrugging off multiple 2nd and 3rd place finishes after getting concussion grenades to the face with a quick burst of fire to finish me off.

Then I saw the Titanfall community on Reddit talking about some sort of non-Titanfall (yet, still kind-of Titanfall) Battle Royale game. I chalked it up to gaming nerds complaining about something that didn’t exist. Suddenly, I start seeing the game Apex Legends marketed and talked about more and more over the next 72 hours. I ended up on my smart phone as I was blasting my quads on the spinning bike at my local gym (it’s my passion… if you don’t get the reference just google it).

I logged on and started by playing a couple matches on February 6. I was so bad at the game after having played Blackout for months that I ended up going back to Blackout for the rest of that night after getting my teeth kicked in and voicing my displeasure on the live stream. The next day something changed – I wanted to give Apex another try, but I wanted to go at it more slowly and methodically just to get a feel for how it worked. It was the best decision I’ve made in gaming in quite some time.

The best comparison I can make for Apex is that it is a cross between Titanfall (gunplay/aiming), Borderlands (general looting feel), Fortnite (albeit in first person), and a splash of Overwatch (players with unique abilities).

Apex had over 10 million players in the first three days of release. That is amazing. That’s not even the most shocking aspect to me. For what it’s worth I got the most out of the reactions from David Vonderhaar on Twitter over the last 24 hours or so – he is the studio design director for Blackout. While I generally appreciate the pressure and the hard work that goes into keeping a game like COD/Blackout running with such a massive following, his tweets scream frustration and desperation just days after Apex released.

Do you ever feel like the harder you try to do the right thing the worse you do? That feels awful.— Lord Vonderhaar (@DavidVonderhaar) February 8, 2019

I love this tweet because it illustrates my point. You are diverse. You don’t all agree. You are not made up of just Twitter or Reddit communities. You are beautiful. You are complicated. You are right. You are wrong. https://t.co/7zZ5dm0bAT— Lord Vonderhaar (@DavidVonderhaar) February 8, 2019

The best part about Apex coming in out of left field and slapping Call of Duty in the face isn’t even about the games themselves. It’s about the developer of Apex.

Respawn Entertainment created Apex. You might recognize the bigger names of Respawn (Jason West and Vince Zampella) as the original names behind Call of Duty 4 – Modern Warfare back when they were at Infinity Ward. These guys had a very public falling out with Activision and after a few years they ended up coming back as Respawn and creating the Titanfall series. They lost their ability to create Call of Duty games and were forced to make something new and different with Titanfall – and they succeeded. Titanfall 2 is still widely played by the close-knit community and now to have Apex come out of the blue and take the hearts and minds of so many Blackout players from Call of Duty is some of the best schadenfreude I can think of from the perspective of Respawn and the developers over there.

MLB The Show Franchise Mode Has Its Own Demons

If you have been on NoobTubeTV for the Madden CFM coverage over the last few years you will see that there has been little mercy on the shortcomings of the Madden Franchise Mode. I have largely talked up the depth of MLB The Show and the Franchise Mode in general. However, after playing through five seasons of Franchise Mode with the Cincinnati Reds it can’t be understated how broken the game becomes on multiple levels.

Building A Dream Team Is Far Too Easy

By the time you get to 2023 – this can be possible

Like other games, I think you should be able to do whatever you want in your own sports universe. However, for those of us that want a reason to play our franchise with some realism and some challenge, this shouldn’t be able to happen.

I will say this. One thing that definitely happens on top of all of this is big time players sign big time contracts – for the most part. There was one HUGE caveat I noticed and will get to that in a bit. For now, I will show you the reverse Babe Ruth move that happened in one off-season.

This happened in my Indians Franchise.

Age Regression Is Ridiculous

When I played through my first couple seasons with the Reds I actually kept the team pretty true to what they were when I started. I will have to go back and take a look at certain moves that had been made, but in the end I will say that Joey Votto carried us to the 2018 World Series. He was by far the best player I have used in any season of The Show. The worst part was the very next season his production dropped along with this ratings. I ended up trading him to the Braves and decided to see how he was doing before we started the 2023 season.

To say I was disappointed for him is an understatement. Sure, he is 38 at this point and by no means is he a spring chicken, but he seriously has one job to do. Oh well, not my problem anymore.

Being The GM Is Just Too Easy

One of the things that happens as you play through Franchise Mode is your status as the GM will bounce around in terms of Job Security. The only thing is that once you realize how many teams are willing to make a deal with you for their future stars it is written in the stars for you to create the greatest team of all time.

For instance, I made the trade in 2022 to get Mike Trout on the Reds. His $30 million annual salary was something I thought I could deal with until the next off-season came around and I realized I didn’t have the ability to sign half of the players I needed in order to run the franchise. What ever could I do?!

Well, for one thing – I could trade Trout at 31 years old and 99 OVR for anyone I wanted – as long as the salary involved was comparable. So, this basically meant I had to do a bit of creative trading that would see multiple teams contacted on the same day and many players being a Cincinnati Red for a little under five minutes before they got moved again.

Prospects, Minor League and Renewable Contracts and The Wonders of the Potential Rating

This might be the biggest downfall of Franchise Mode. Trading for those prized coveted prospects on other teams is generally the first move many of us make. The second move we make is to sign them to the cheapest contracts they will accept under the current MLB rules that still manage to function similarly to indentured servitude in terms of sports contracts.

When you get one of those coveted players on your team it is going to be a sweet ride for five to seven seasons before they demand a free agent deal that could break your bank. There should be more safeguards for those of us that want a simulation feel for our franchise mode experience.

Now that the first trailer is here it is only a matter of time before the hype gets even bigger. Here is hoping they actually made some big and much needed changed in MLB 19.