Franchise Mode – Play The Game Or The Game Will Play You

It really doesn’t matter which sports game you are playing. The moment you start Franchise Mode you had better be ready to make some moves in your omniscient role as owner/general manager/coach/manager/player. If you aren’t controlling every team in the mode you will see the CPU make some trades and sign some players that cause you to wonder if there was a glitch in The Matrix.

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I recently started a new Franchise Mode in MLB The Show 18 with the Orioles and had planned on going through the season with the primary roster from a combination of my NoobTubeTV Roster and OSFM. Once I made it out of Spring Training I thought I was ready to rock. I was going to set up a trade block just in case a team wanted to make an offer for a few of my players. I decided to take a look at the Transactions section just to see if any moves had been made by the CPU. There were a couple… but one made me rethink my entire approach.

MLB 18 Trade Reds

The Reds traded away their top prospect, Nick Senzel. Not only did they trade their top prospect with ‘A’ Potential, but they traded him in the division to the Cardinals for a first basemen in Rangel Ravelo that is 25 with ‘C’ Potential. As much as I could chalk this up to the Reds being the Reds, I had a moment that made me realize that trying to keep my roster moves ‘realistic’ would only hurt my franchise experience in the long run. This isn’t the case if the CPU keeps trades down for the most part, but when there are big trades that involve top prospects for nobodies – it’s on like Donkey Kong!

I made my own moves soon after I saw the Reds trade. Seeing that the rumors already have the Orioles shipping Manny Machado by the trade deadline this season (in real life) I decided I would pull the trigger earlier in the season – and I would add a few other players to my rebuild of Baltimore.

MLB 18 Trade Orioles

Some of the elitists on sports gaming forums would be shouting from their ivory towers as wanna-be experts that these trades would never happen. Guess what…? They did and it has been fun as hell to play my Franchise over the last few games with this remodeled Orioles team.

I managed to trade Machado, Britton, and Davis to the Rangers for Nomar Mazara, Roughned Odor and Ronald Guzman. Yes, it was a steal when it comes to obtaining young players that I be the bedrock of the Orioles for a few years. Yes, I feel like this could happen in the real world (why not?). I then also made a trade with the Nationals to bring in a prospect to eventually take over for the absense of Machado in Kieboom. You could say realistically and be correct in the statement that I basically rebuilt my entire roster during the first week.

Yup, I did – and that’s the point. Franchise Mode is YOURS. You don’t have to abide by anyone’s rules if you don’t want to. For myself, I like to play through mine like a story. I have all sorts of different ideas for how I want to see my team develop for my initial three year contract. Everyone should have the same view on their own franchise mode. I think having some house rules is always a good idea. I do have another Franchise Mode that uses my original house rules for MLB 18 (with the Reds of all teams!) and it is a great time as well.

The point of all of this…? When you play sports games from the franchise mode perspective you have to take every moment with a grain of salt. I have had all sorts of crazy things happen…

  • 700 yard passing game by DeShone Kizer
  • 5 HR game by Carlos Santana
  • The Browns won a game

The world is a crazy place. Don’t get upset when your franchise loses its mind – roll with it and make it your own crazy world.

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Madden 25 Connected Franchise Mode – Don’t Settle For Anything!

After Madden 25 announced a recent Gamestop promo for ‘Connected Franchise Mode’ and an article surfaced on Bleacher Report talking about the supposedly tweaked Connected Careers Mode; there seems to be a lot of work for us to do in order to make Madden better instead of simply allowing EA Tiburon to give us old features and call them ‘new’.

There is a poll on the Brian Mazique article asking if editing rosters, fantasy drafts and controlling every team are enough to make you completely satisfied.  These aren’t new features!  Madden 12 had every single ‘feature’ they are trying to re-implement into a mode that essentially disallowed them.  While these features are a must and will only add more depth to the game they by no means should satiate your desire for a better football game.

Reyna BOOM

Some of the (many) additions Franchise Mode needs in order to mimic the real NFL are below:

  • Player Morale – Player morale was in Madden 2005 and has been in the NBA 2K series for years.  If there is one thing that Madden lacks in terms of bringing life into the players it is morale and mood when it comes to the actual players.
  • Free Agent/UDFA Signings – Madden seems to think that free agency is something that allows a team to go and simply sign anyone they want if they aren’t on a team.  After this weekend’s draft there were many players that were picked up just seconds after it was over.  These players don’t simply go to the first time that calls, they weigh their options and choose.  Some players have no desire to play for a team that has too much depth or a team that simply doesn’t win.  Madden needs to make this more realistic and that starts with a more true-to-life free agency.
  • Storylines – The addition of storylines for some of the draft prospects in Madden 13 was awesome.  It was a nice way to give some of the players in the draft a personal touch.  The downfall is that their stories all seemed to stop once they were drafted.  The commentary doesn’t follow any of them and the updates on the ‘news feed’ seem to leave any of those stories high and dry.  Continuity is something that Madden’s career modes always seem to lack and while it will take some work to fully implement – it will be worth it.
  • Fan Bases – Some teams sell out almost every game.  Some stadiums are lucky to be at 50% capacity.  Somehow, almost every game in Madden is a sell out according to the stands.  While some games have low attendance due to weather it doesn’t seem to matter what is going on in a given city for a game to be sold out.  I can promise you one thing, if the Browns ever host an AFC Championship Game and it is snowing like crazy… the stands will be FULL.  On the other hand, if the Bengals are playing a game in the middle of the season at home and they are 2-7, they will be lucky to have any ‘fans’ show up.  The NFL is nothing without the fans and that needs to be made apparent in Franchise Mode.
  • Team Movement – While this poses some sort of strange issues with licensing, etc. there were some serious shortcomings when Madden allowed you to move a team to a new city.  Outside of the issues listed in the fan base section, you couldn’t keep the team logo and there wasn’t any real support for the gamer to create a team in a new city because the commentary was terrible and franchise mode lost its luster.  If you look at the fact that many teams are looking to move to new cities because of stadium issues or simply for more money it is something that will be happening soon and should be given the proper attention in the game.
  • Injuries – Madden finally put in some sort of real-time physics last year with the Infinity Engine.  The downfall was evident in many areas but injuries are one of the most obvious.  As much as the NFL wants to censor Madden and try to convince people that it isn’t a violent sport – football is a violent sport and that is why we like it!  Real time injuries need to be in the game and big hits need to matter.  It makes no sense for my 6’4″ 260lb MLB to have a random injury when he crushes Joe Flacco or Mike Vick in the backfield and they get up like nothing happened.  Fix the injury system… please.
  • Player Progression – While I have always been a proponent of performance based progression I do not like how Madden 13 allowed the user to simply accumulate points by stats and put them where ever we wanted to in each player.  Abilities should progress as the player uses them and performs them.  How can a strength rating go up randomly or just because we decide we want it to?  Follow the lead of MLB The Show and let the user have the option to determine what areas players will work on in a given week or set it to auto and let the coaching tendencies determine it.
  • Player Value – After Joe Flacco won the Super Bowl he got a healthy contract renewal.  I drafted a QB in my Browns CCM, Mark Mallett… He has thrown for over 4500 yards and 35 TDs in his first three seasons.  He then won a Super Bowl in 2015 and is up for a new contract offer from our front office.  His OVR is 84 but his abilities have been growing with his performance.  His contract demands?… 5 Years, $4.6 Million per year.  There is no thinking about this from my perspective – Mallett is never going to ask for the money he deserves and that is sad.  Players with great speed or players we like using are typically going for crazy statistics in our Franchise Mode.  We should have to pay a premium price to keep them around if that is the case.  Player value shouldn’t be determined by OVR but by performance and that should make it harder for teams to sign players they want to abuse the other teams with and keep them forever.

We will continue our efforts to make Madden a better game and you shouldn’t let EA get away with calling old parts of the game ‘new features’.  What are your thoughts?  What is Madden missing the most in Franchise Mode?