EA drops a double F-bomb on Madden 25: Freemium and Facebook

EA is taking us down two roads we don't want to travel on with this latest version of one of their premier titles

Without fail, every year, we see updated titles to key franchises from EA, with a Madden NFL title being one of them. This year sees a milestone for the Madden series, with Madden 25 being the – you guessed it – 25th release. They've really gone to town on the console versions of the game, and in some regards the mobile version too. It looks incredible, has excellent controls for the touchscreen environment and all the licenses you can shake a stick at. But it's also the single most enraging game experience I've had in a long time. In short, EA has ruined this once great franchise with two 'F' words; freemium and Facebook.

The curse of freemium

I get it; game developers want to make money. That's a good thing, and I want them to make money. Hell, I want to give them money to play great games. EA has taken the decision that the freemium model makes more money for them, but in Madden they've gone too far. Further than Real Racing 3, and much, much further than Plants vs Zombies 2.

To even play a game of football, you either need to spend Madden cash – of which you start the game on a big fat zero – or use up your 'lightning' allowance, or whatever it's actually called. I started out with 10 of these, and it wanted 8 to play a game. You can see where I'm going with this.

If you do choose to use Madden cash to play, it costs 5. The cheapest bundle is for 8 units, and it costs $1.49. Sure, there's ways to get currency without paying, but you get a feel for how the experience is heading from this alone.

Facebook 'integration' gone wrong. Very, very wrong

One such way to get some free currency is to log in to your Facebook account from the game when you begin. I don't have an active Facebook account, but since this is a freemium game I re-activated it just to get the free stuff. Biggest mistake ever.

Since I don't use Facebook anymore, I honestly couldn't care less whether or not it spammed everyone on there to the end of the Earth. But, once you've logged in to your Facebook account, try disconnecting it. Then comes the single worst thing EA has possibly ever done with any of their mobile games.

If you decide you don't want to be connected to Facebook anymore, you can't play the game. Period. Even uninstalling the game and redownloading it from the App Store doesn't cure it, and you get the message you see here. I can no longer play this game on my iPad. Sure, I've downloaded it on my iPhone to continue the pain and suffering, making sure not to connect to Facebook this time. But come on, seriously?

Madden 25 seems to use Facebook as a way to create an account for you to save your progress. Not unheard of. But, the sheer fact that should you decide no longer to use Facebook you're completely unable to play the game at all is astonishing. I want to start over from scratch, no Facebook. So why can't I? This kind of 'integration' is hostile towards the people playing the game, the people who are paying EA to play the game.

One highly disappointed gamer

I love the NFL, and I love Madden. I've loved the Madden games for many, many years, and while I'll continue to play the console versions, this is the end of the road on mobile. That is, unless EA seriously changes how it does its business. Madden 25 isn't a free game enhanced by purchases. Madden 25 is driven by purchases with some elements of a game hidden inside. And then comes the whole Facebook shenanigans.

What's worse still is that EA has already confirmed a freemium future for FIFA Mobile as well. I'm already filling with dread.

It leaves me with only one thing to say; if you want to play Madden on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch go and buy the old versions. Don't waste your time on this one. Maybe even do the same with FIFA. Don't wait for the new one.

Your thoughts

So, if you read this you might not be heading to the App Store to download it. That's perfectly OK, but I still want to know what you think about this whole freemium-gone-mad model EA seems to be employing. Can you still play games this way?

If you have got Madden 25, let me know what you think. Am I getting a little too excited here, or do you share the same avid frustrations?

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Richard Devine

Senior Editor at iMore, part time racing driver, full time British guy

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EA drops a double F-bomb on Madden 25: Freemium and Facebook

27 Comments

This is why mobile gaming for me, won't be a serious platform. They need to figure out a way to make money without building a game that is designed to milk money from me. If I buy a game for my Playstation I pay $50 and I have the game. I don't mind spending money to get a whole game, I'd rather do that. Not eveything on my iPhone has to be free. Just charge me $50 for a really good iOS game and Ill pay it!

What about if Apple introduced a system to the App Store like Microsoft has on Windows Phone where you can trial paid apps? Try it for a couple of days for free, see if you like it, then you can decide whether or not to pay for it?

I think that is a better methold. Include free demos and start to charge better for the actual game. I know EA would lose their whales but I think it's a better deal for everybody. I don't want to spam my friends on FaceBook and I just want to pay what I need to pay to get access to all the content. Give me a fair price and I'll pay it. I bought Chrono Trigger for $10. I don't need to pay anymore and I get the whole game. I like that. I don't like playing a game knowing that the company designed the game to figure out ways to get into my wallet. I want them to design a game that is so fun that I want to pay them money to buy it. It's why I think FaceBook games have kind of died. People figured it out.

Some people will say $50.00 is a lot, or too much. You will pay way more than $50.00 in the way EA has it set up, so I agree. I would pay for the full game.

Sent from the iMore App

Freemium has nearly killed my desire to play new games on my iPad. I used to download several games per week (and was perfectly willing to pay up to $4.99 without much hesitation... and if I really liked the game, I might even buy an optional skin for my character later on). But now, even paid games require you to either grind the same missions over and over, or purchase special currencies to upgrade your character (only to have to do it again a few stages later). What happened to me plumping down my money and having to use skill to beat a game? I'll repeat a stage if I failed to memorize the patterns fully, but I hate replaying a stage just to earn credits!

I couldn't agree more... And the way to stop it is to hit them where it hurts, their pocketbooks! I stopped purchasing and downloading any app that thinks it can use IAP, as their cash cow! I loved PVsZ, but they have chained the new version to a cash register and I just won't do it... I am not paying for every aspect of the game, just to play the game! Give me back the one time purchase price, because I am not willing to give my hard earned cash for a exploding pepper in a game!!

Dusting off my console now! Maybe if this trend is continuing, it will be a good thing for stand-alone console. Or until they bring freemium to the console, d'oh.

I suppose their "rationale" is that when we used to go to arcades to play games we'd have to stick quarters or whatever in the machine just to play it; so I suppose their thinking is "here's the game, now give us your quarters if you want to play". I agree with you 100%, this is a radical and stinky departure from what we're used to, but if people pay up and keep playing anyway (which is what they're banking on) I think we can only expect more of this. Ugh :-(

I feel same about mobile gaming. The other issue for me is I feel like it's a waste of time to play any games like Madden on my phone when I have a large HDTV and an Xbox 360 that plays games in 1080p.

Mobile gaming is a lame money grab in it's current state. I'm fairly annoyed with Plants vs. Zombies 2 constantly asking me to buy stuff. I would pay money just to remove the constant assault of money grabbing pop ups.

That may actually be what they're up to; creating a need. In other words, annoy the heck out of people with this ridiculous new set-up hoping that after a while people will be willing to pay to get rid of it. So they make more money either way; if you pay to play they win, if you pay to get rid of it they win too.

I've never played Madden on iOS for the simple fact that I didn't see the point. Would rather play with a controller. Downloaded this since it was free and played an exhibition game. Graphics and presentation were great, but the controls were kinda spotty, didn't feel like I had much control over my runner. After about an hour of playing it I'm glad it was a free download cause it was more frustrating then fun.

Well, I have zero interest in football, but I am eagerly awaiting NBA 2K14, and I sure am glad that that one comes from 2K rather than EA! I would hate to have to spend "LeBron Bucks" just to get Deron Williams on the court for a game. I'll gladly pay $10, $15, maybe even a little more for NBA 2K14, but I wouldn't even download if it is like this. I still play RR2, but I refuse to play RR3 for this reason.

Thing is, I agree it sucks in RR3, but I haven't spent any real money in about a month. Madden asks you to hand over some form of in-game currency just to play a game. And that just plain sucks

The way I like to play a game however is for a undetermined bit of time. In other words, I play to relax. Sometimes, I'll play for a long time (XCOM or NBA), and sometimes only for a few minutes (Most Wanted). Sometimes, while playing, life comes up and I have to leave. I don't want it to be like the old arcade, where I've put in my quarters and I cannot leave until the game is over. If I quit my Nets v. Lakers game in the third, I don't care that much. I'll take care of whatever came up and go back later. If I had to pay a buck just to play that game, I'd be more reluctant to leave it mid-game, and therefore I probably wouldn't even start the game in the first place. Therefore, I don't even download the game.

EA - just about getting too big for their pantaloines.

I tried to unlike them on FB and it wouldn't allow it.

I have madden 25 and frankly see no enjoyment from the game.
I won't pay for shit on any game that takes my data and uses for their purposes and then expects me to pay.

Ha Ha. You get enough from me merely on that level alone.

Don't know why I downloaded it?

Actually I do. Just wanted to see the mechanic and graphics and how it all played out on my iPad.

Meh.

I hate football anyways.

Ciao Madden.

Totally agree with the review. I believe there should be an option, at least for premium game like this, to just pay once for the whole experience. I also believe a fair price point would be $9.99 - 15.99 in the Appstore. This is a digital distribution with significant lower costs for the developer

On a side note, I would like to ask a question: as a medium-long term strategy, is it better for a developer like EA to get its mobile revenues from a small set of high paying customers with a clear impulsive disorder, or is it better to get them from a broader regular paying customer base of mentally sane people? They are betting on the fact that there will always be a niche of rich people desperate enough to pay 100$ to play, so they just spit in the face of hundreds of thousand of normal people who will be happy to pay them $9.99 or so.

I happen to be a normal person. And I will remember that EA basically doesn't want my business.

I will remember it very well...

Not that I'm saying piracy is good, but if I wanted to play this, I'd bet that someone could crack the Facebook requirement out of it. If it's still Freemium, EA isn't losing money, they stand to gain more from those w/o Facebook.

I completely agree with everything said here, upon downloading Madden 25 I was asked to log into Facebook to challenge friends, and occasionally post my achievements, it concerns me greatly that EA will hold me to ransom should I decide not to have my Facebook logged in anymore. Upon reading your article Richard and coming to the realisation that I will eventually be bullied into buying Madden Credits, I've decided to delete the game in protest! Shame on you EA.

Love the title. Would have been catchier/funnier if the words, Facebook and Freemium, were omitted from the title and were just shown on the article itself. But hey, this made me chuckle, so thanks!
And, EA, please read this and contemplate on what you did wrong!

I love playing games on my mobile device. I play tons of games on it varying from puzzles games to sports games. I love sports games and especially playing football, and since this is the only game i can find, there is this other game but it is not enough for me to play it. But every since EA started using the freemium thing, i find it more that they only care about money than they do about making good games. Real racing 3 and now madden 25. I see this company either losing reputation fast as one of the best games developers of all time,or actual caring about what customers thinking about them. Yes this game is new, and there is bound to be problems with it, but the two most obvious problems are the freemium and the facebook thing. Unless you have plenty of time to play this, i dont think many people are going to pay up lots of money to play this game and will eventually delete it. But i will keep it because i like football but wont pay any money for this game, and try to play it out. The game itself is ok, the controls needs to be fixed, and dont like how you have to make lots of coins to buy players cards, and that energy thing takes forever, but hey this is how Ea wants to makes games, and eventually they are going to have to live with it.

Oh and if you install the game, there is a chance to play the game without actual signing into facebook, but i think the game could have been good if EA did a good job incorporating facebook into this and not doing a terrible job of it.

You know with the way Ea and this other developers are going with being greedy and all, i think they are trying to tell us that we need to get out more and to be more socializing, HEHEHEE

In US, people don't like Facebook but in our country (Philippines), almost all users have Facebook but the minority is twitter. No problems there in Games linked to FACEBOOK Integration.