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.
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.
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.
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.
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?