Lamar Jackson and How EA Continues To Screw Up Franchise Mode

EA recently released a list of the top rookie quarterbacks in their annual hype train countdown to the release of Madden.  This year, they slipped up and unintentionally commented on their simulation formula for Franchise Mode.

‘Lamar Jackson could be the most interesting QB to play as in Madden 19. If you sim a lot of games in Franchise, he’s likely not the best pick at the moment. But holy hell, his base ratings make him fun…’ for more, go to the page here.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens-Minicamp

The issue with this isn’t that Lamar Jackson shouldn’t be rated higher or lower than anyone else.  It is simply the fact that they reference his effectiveness in Franchise Mode to his ratings.  What should continue to worry CFM players is this continuing problem with CFM being tied to overall ratings.  This would be like saying that Michael Vick would be fun to play with but he wouldn’t do much for a team in a simulation.  I’m not saying that Lamar Jackson is Michael Vick, but he is damn close.

This means that EA has not changed their formula of what is important in CFM.  It is still driven by OVR.  This means you won’t have any players that are low rated to start become anything close to superstars.  It also means that the CPU is actually at a competitive disadvantage.  As users, we are able to see certain players with abilities that we can take advantage of – speed, trucking, throw accuracy, hit power, etc.  We can turn a 6th round 67 OVR player into an absolute beast.  The CPU will either cut the player or never play them in a simulation.  Take a look at the practice squads in your Madden 18 CFM – the CPU has some BEASTS that never get a chance to play.  Many of us would snap up these players in a heartbeat.

Until EA makes Madden CFM more nuanced and less dependent on overall ratings I have a feeling we will continue to experience a rather mechanical and less organic CFM experience.

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Interesting Ratings Breakdown For Madden 25

Worth some consideration – the original write-up for this was basically copied and pasted into a forum from another source.  In that regard, I will not give them the benefit of a link back to their forum.  I will search for the original post and give them full credit when I find it.  As promised – here is the link

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A lot of Madden gamers out there always wonder exactly what some of the ratings mean or ‘do’.  In this case there are some bits of information that I hope you find useful.

QBs

Here’s a list of a few things that AWARENESS (AWR) impacts:

– Used in combination with physical ratings to determine pass trajectory.
– Determines the decision made on option routes.
– Determines QB’s reaction time when scrambling.
– Determines QB’s recognition of threats in the pocket
– Determines if a QB can throw a ball away.


QB Accuracies impacts:

– Short Accuracy (SAC) – rating is the accuracy percentage of the QB on throws under 20 yards.
– Medium Accuracy (MAC) – rating is the accuracy percentage of the QB on throws of 20-40 yards.
– Deep Accuracy (DAC) – rating is the accuracy percentage of the QB on throws greater than 40 yards.


WRs


ROUTE RUNNING (RTE) rating:

In order to give the quarterback a big enough window to throw to, receivers must run precise routes with the correct depths and cuts so the quarterback knows exactly where he’ll be when he breaks. But more important is the separation a receiver can get on his defender. Here’s the breakdown of what the run-route rating does on the field:

– Determines fake out chance when cutting against man coverage.
– Determines the amount of time it takes the receiver to adjust to the ball in the air.
– Determines the sharpness of cut moves in the routes.


Catch in Traffic (CIT) rating:.

– Used against hit power to determine the chance of a hit stick on a receiver.
– Used against zone coverage and man coverage to determine the knock out chance when tackled during a catch.


DL

BLOCK SHEDDING (BKS) rating:

· Determines the suddenness of engaged moves and combines with player strength.
· Determines win/loss-chance of cut blocks in combination with physical ratings.
· Determines the success of run-block double teams.
· Determines a defender’s skill when rushing the passer without engaging a blocker.

BKS is also used in the open-field. The rating is matched-up with the blocker’s impact-block rating to determine win or loss in any situation where both the defender and blocker are running.


POWER MOVES – (PWM) ratings:

· Determines win/loss/super-loss on power-move attempts, used vs. Pass Block rating
· Determines defender’s skill in executing power moves.
· Determines frequency and success of each move type (AI), used against finesse move rating
· Determines how long it takes a defender to use a power move and disengage from a blocker
· Determines chance of success of impact blockvs. pass rusher (impact block= both players are running). Used with the Finesse Move Rating vs. Pass Block Rating


LBs

FINESSE MOVES (FMV) ratings:

– Finesse move-groups are: Spin, Swim, Hand Knock-Down, Speed Rush
– Determines the chance a defender gets flattened by the blocker
– Determines defenders skill vs. blocker’s skill for success of finesse moves
– AI uses FMV vs. Power Move rating to determine which move-set is used
– Determines the max time taken to perform successful finesse move

FMV is also used in combination with power moves vs. pass block ratings to determine whether the defender or blocker has the advantage when matching animpact block.

PURSUIT (PUR) ratings:

– Determines amount of time it takes to change direction while chasing the ball carrier
– Determines the chance for a hit stick when chasing the ball
– Determines how quickly a player update his pursuit path relative to the ball carrier
– Determines how quickly a player can break out of chasing the ball carrier

Pursuit is used in combination with tackle and awareness ratings to determine the chance of committing a facemask penalty.


DBs
MAN COVERAGE (MCV) ratings:


– Determines chance of fakeout, used vs. Route Run.
– Determines the time it takes to cover a cut, used vs. Route Run.
– Determines the reaction time when in man-coverage assignment.
– Determines tackle skill chance when in man-coverage assignment, used with AWR.
– Determines when a defender can break out of ‘play ball’ (when the ball is in the air).
– Determines the knockout chance of a tackle during the catch, used vs. Catch in Traffic.

MCV is also used to determine if a defender will bite and rush when his assigned player does a ‘block & release’ route.


ZONE COVERAGE (ZCV) ratings:

– Determines tackle skill chance when in zone, used AWR.
– Determines accuracy of leverage on receivers when in zone.
– Determines the time it takes for the DB to track the ball when in zone.
– Determines knockout chance on a tackle during a catch, used vs. Catch in Traffic.

PRS is used against WR’s release ratings to determine length and direction of the chuck.

 

NOTE – Here is the link to the original write-up

GAME OVR – The Strange Obsession With OVR Ratings In Sports Games

In gaming all ‘ability’ levels are based around number ratings and scales.  The only difference in ratings comes in how they are presented (or not presented) to the user.  Everything from guns in Call of Duty to Spin Ratings for Defensive Tackles in Madden have some sort of numerical value – even if they aren’t presented to you in that fashion, the ratings are numerically based once you dig into the guts and binary code of the game.  That said, there is one rating in-particular that seems to be an obsession with sports gamers… the Overall (OVR) rating.

In Madden NFL, NBA 2K, NHL, FIFA, NCAA Football (RIP), etc. the primary measure of a player’s worth is in his OVR rating.  While the determining factors for a player’s OVR may differ between games it seems that it is the only thing that matters to most sports gamers in determining a player’s value/talent in the given game.  Granted, in Madden and NCAA the other rating of almost equal importance over the last 10+ years has been Speed (SPD) ratings for ‘skill’ positions – OVR is still king when it comes to determining the success and worth of a player.  In fact, it should be changed to a ‘Physical’ (PHY) rating as we develop a totally new rating.

How Do You Increase OVR In Madden?

To get this out of the way, there have been many people asking how to increase the OVR of their players in Madden 25.  This is rather simple as long as you are earning enough XP for the player during your Franchise/Career mode.  Always start with the Awareness Rating (AWR) of the player and you will soon see the OVR jump substantially.  After that, it is all about investing in the position specific categories for the player.  So, if you have a QB – start with AWR and then move to Throwing Accuracy, Throwing Power and so-forth.  If you have a HB, I suggest starting again with AWR and then moving onto Spin, Juke, Stiff Arm, etc.  Hopefully this helps – but when in doubt you should always start with the mysterious AWR Rating.

How To Best Rate Players?

This is a question that often creeps up in sports gaming forums.  While there is a necessity to depend on numerical ratings for players (at least in the ‘hidden guts’ of the game, as stated above) there seems to be a growing divide among sports gamers as to how these ratings should be shown to the gamer – or if they should be at all.

Madden NFL’s rating system is vast and sometimes confusing (or simply meaningless in some cases).  With Donny Moore being the primary focus of players getting weekly boosts or reductions in ratings based on their real-life performance for online roster updates there are many gamers and fans out there that question his ability to make the right changes.  I have been critical of his rating changes in the past and I am not about to retract my remarks or references.  However, it is feeling more and more like the best way to rate players in Franchise/Association/Career/Owner modes should be determined by more than some sort of absolute numerical value on an interactive in-game spreadsheet.

Every team and franchise values players differently.  Every owner, coach, scout and fan places different values on players as well.  This is where I believe the best rating system should include a mix of numbers, letters and gold stars (yeah, I said it – gold stars).

The grade of a player’s SPD should be determined by multiple factors – including game/season fatigue to start.  Also, this all important rating should also be determined by weather conditions (including high heat) and agility if necessary.

As for ‘Overall’ (OVR) I am of the strong opinion that it should be changed to ‘Value’ (VAL).  This might seem just as arbitrary as OVR but if we changed the rating to VAL and based it around the play-style/coaching style of the gamer and the resulting ‘fan value’ of a player it would make for a far more realistic experience in career modes and in the game.

Explaining The “Value Rating” In Detail With Examples

My suggested value rating would require an extremely ‘organic’ and amoeba-like rating system that changes from week to week and moment to moment.  This would also likely be extremely difficult to develop without serious bugs in code, etc. – but why not consider it anyway?

It all starts with creating an initial philosophy.  This will differ depending on at which level you are assuming control of your team (Owner, Coach, etc.).  Some owners are all about making money first and having a great team second (think Randy Lerner in Cleveland).  Other owners like to think they are the best judges of talent in the league (think Jerry Jones and the late Al Davis).  Then you have owners like Robert Craft that support a coach that they trust and watch the victories (and the money) pour into their franchise.

Madden has started to make this type of change recently with Coaching Schemes playing a role in the ratings of players.  However, this hasn’t translated to any real changes in the gameplay (which is a different discussion altogether).  The downfall in this is that the players are still being judged on their scheme type and ratings in their OVR rather than their production and value to the franchise, team and fans.

The VAL rating would consider the percentage of time that player is on the field.  How many times the player touched the ball and perhaps how often the gamer controls that player on defense.  If you start taking into consideration the value you place on some players in terms of actually using them it becomes a much more involved and introspective gaming experience.

My Madden 13 CCM with the Cleveland Browns has reached the 2020 season and I have developed some of my players into some of the statistically best players that have ever played.  My 2013 Draft Pick was a 2nd Rd QB, Mark Mallett out of Oregon State.  He has developed into the best QB in the league averaging over 43 TDs and 5000 yards a season.  He has also won four Super Bowls (with 4 MVPs to go with them).  I decided that in his contract renewal process that I would reward him for being the franchise player that he is and I did this with a 6-Year $132 million deal.  I followed that up with a deal for Joe Haden to stay with my team through the 2026 season.  The moral of the story is that even if Mallett hadn’t progressed with his physical ratings he would still warrant a huge contract no matter what and this is because of his value… not his skills.

Tom Brady doesn’t exactly run like the wind… neither does Peyton Manning.  Somehow they are still considered the two best QBs in the NFL.  Sure, they have good arms and are accurate passers – but they are also smart/intelligent leaders.  This is where the performance of players under ‘user/gamer’ control should start to develop this same Value as games and seasons progress.

What do you think?  How should ratings be decided in sports gaming?

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.

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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?

Madden 13 – Live Draft Videos Show Tremendous Effort At EA

As a Browns fan one of the biggest (if not, THE biggest) days every year is the NFL Draft.  A lot of people feel this way but for teams like the Browns and all of the Browns Backers out there, it is a day where we fill ourselves with hope and beer as we watch and listen for rumors of who will be taken to turn our team around.  In the past, Madden’s Franchise Mode has grown to be a serviceable game mode but the one thing that has been lacking was atmosphere and purpose in the off-season and especially in the draft.  This year that has changed and we are happy to embed a video by one of EA’s Game Changers (MadScientist06) that shows you what the NFL Draft feels like in Madden 13.

While there are some things that I would like to see tweaked for Madden 14 and beyond, this is one of the finest examples of growth in Franchise Mode that I have seen in years.

What I Love –

+ Limiting Picks to 2-minutes – This is one of the things that had to be done to give every pick the urgency you feel as a viewer on draft day.  Sure, in reality you have more than two minutes, but in Madden it is you and your scouting expertise with a controller and a twitch reaction of pressing the ‘A’ or ‘X’ button (depending on your console).  This is a great move either way you spin it.

+ Story-Lines For Certain Players – Stories are what make sports so amazing.  Try to watch the Olympics or the NFL Draft without hearing about some guy who showed up one day and amazed people with his ability.  Or on the flipside, remember that player that was supposed to be the number 1 pick and he ended up falling to the second round because of work ethic or something else entirely?… that is what the draft is about and it is finally in Madden.

+Twitter Feed – Bringing in personalities from the sports community was genius.  I love to hate Skip Bayless most of the time and when he called MadScientist06’s pick of Corey Dallas the culmenation of  “…Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest!… A TERRIBLE pick!…” This is what I have been waiting for since Madden 2005’s boos and cheers.

What Makes Me Nervous

– Draft Logic – It is one of those things that has been improved over the years, but some teams are still making questionable decisions in the draft.  At one point you see the Rams taking a Quarterback – they already have Sam Bradford, but who knows… maybe he broke his arm?  Either way, this is something that should be perfected over time and you will probably give some picks a strange look.  You could always just say that the spirit of Al Davis is possessing people.

– Unlocking Ratings – I have never been a fan of Madden’s rating system being thrown out there as the end-all/be all for how a player is judged.  I love that you have to spend points on opening certain ratings but in reality this isn’t a good simulation of how information is gathered (at least from a fan’s perspective).

– Scouting Still Limits You – If you take a look at NFL.com’s combine coverage, they list the stats and times of every player that participated.  I don’t really think you should be able to see every rating of each player, but I should at least have the resources as a coach/owner to look on the internet and look at a player’s 40-time if he was at the combine.  In the future I would like to see this presented with a ‘range’ of times if we are looking at speed.  The Raiders base most of their drafts off of combine numbers while the Patriots look at their scouting over the year.  You should have both options and especially the combine numbers for every player.

Keep tuning in to NoobTubeTV as this is going to be a very busy week in the world of Madden (only 8.5 days left until release day).

Does Madden Matter Anymore?

Over the past two decades it has been a fixture in sports gaming.  On occasion it has even been hailed as one of the best games of the year in that genre.  However, the Madden Franchise has fallen on hard times as of late and it looks more like Tiki Barber trying to make a comeback rather than Brett Favre making a Super Bowl run after his 2nd retirement.  Either way it goes and however you view the analogy –  Madden is getting worse every year.  Only a few weeks ago we were looking at Madden 13 as the rebirth of a franchise after a long drought.  Now it seems as if it has lost its luster and even its marketing steam.

The NFL season is set to start in just over two months and Madden is slated to come out in the middle of Pre-Season games.  How on earth can it be that this game doesn’t have a single commercial in wide circulation or even some sort of hypemobile rolling through forums drumming up blind support?

While it isn’t terribly surprising to see a sports title come out and grab the core audience, it is rather shocking to see the publisher pretty much throw in the marketing towel this early/ late in the game’s development cycle.  With high profile titles such as Halo 4 and Call of Duty coming out within a few months of Madden, it is going to be interesting to see how EA’s sales for their football games perform without any real concerted effort at this point.

Madden has its core of fanboys out there that live up to the stereotypes of sports gamers with false bravado and a sharp case of ego-stroking football knowledge that should place them at the sidelines of any local youth football game screaming at children as they try to live out dreams they never should have had in the first place.  These gamers tend to ruin the online experience as they exploit the poor animation and AI system in order to rank up the leaderboards or win some sort of digital league.

The typical Madden Online/Tournament gamer.

The rest of the Madden fans out there don’t even play online.  They want a game that focuses on Franchise Mode/Connected Careers and some sort of longevity to keep them coming back.  Sadly, it looked like a promising year for this group of fans until EA dropped bombshell after bombshell crushing the dreams of franchise fanantics (yours truly, included).  It seems that the time has come to call EA on their bluff.  They have been bluffing for almost seven years now and there are still people out there folding under the pressure to buy this game on release day.

Are you buying Madden this year?  Are you avoiding it like the plague?… Or, are you simply going to wait it out a little while and see what the reviews look like?