With the release of the Madden video game each year, the player skill ratings assigned by Electronic Arts become major news in the sports world. This year is no different. However, a new aspect of the game has fans discussing whether they’ll enjoy the long-running NFL simulation.
Home-field advantage is coming to Madden 22. It’s the first time the series has tried to represent the phenomenon, which was customized for each NFL team. Despite adding a unique element to the gameplay, some users are finding the home-field advantages burdensome.
The quirky history of Madden
The history of the series now known as Madden starts, according to SB Nation, with the 1988 Apple II PC release John Madden Football. The decision to go with a coach and commentator for the title came about because John Madden himself served as a consultant on the complex, strategic football simulation game.
However, far more early fans remember the Sega Genesis port of the game, which introduced the arcade-style gameplay that defined the series for decades. Madden kept appearing on the covers of the games until Madden 99. That is a notable release because it marked a shift away from arcade gameplay toward the simulation roots of the series. It also marked the beginning of the famed Madden curse.
The first victim of the curse was the cover star and then-49er Garrison Hearst, who suffered a severely broken ankle while the video game carrying his silhouette sat on store shelves. The trend of bad luck continued, to varying degrees, until Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson beat the curse in consecutive years.
The new ‘M-Factor’ feature adds strategy and goofy fun to Madden 22
With the curse situation seemingly out of the way, Madden is tempting fate in a different way for the latest release. All 32 NFL home stadiums will now have a momentum factor — branded the M-Factor — accounted for during play. Each team has a unique M-Factor option that kicks in depending on the conditions of the game.
Each ability is themed around the team’s reputation, according to Forbes. Some are fairly straightforward. The Carolina Panthers’ “Keep Pounding” ability gives all home players slightly more stamina during plays. The New York Jets and Giants, who share a stadium, have the same “Turf War” M-Factor that causes opposing players to fatigue faster.
Others trigger under far more specific situations. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ “Terribly Distracting” M-Factor randomly causes away team hot routes to fail on third or fourth downs. And the poor Buffalo Bills have only the “Downwind” ability to bolster their chances, making away team kicking arcs a bit harder to control.
Is M-Factor likely to stick around for the next version of Madden?
Accounting for home-field advantage is a great idea for a football video game with an eye toward simulation. But Electronic Arts, for this first attempt, mostly opted for winking and nodding at fans. For every ability that makes perfect sense, like the Denver Broncos’ “Mile High” (away team players have less stamina), others seem more like inside jokes for fans.
The Seattle Seahawks‘ M-Factor, “The 12s,” obscures portions of away teams’ play art. It’s hilarious, but also a concept that feels more at home on a Mario Kart track than a football sim. For many casual players, this type of thing justifies buying a new edition of Madden each year. However, the grouchy, hardcore players, especially those with esports careers on the line, might not agree with this direction.
Madden 22 releases worldwide on Friday, August 20, according to GamesRadar. The standard version retails for $59.99 on Windows, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. It’ll cost a bit extra at $69.99 on the new Xbox Series S and X consoles, as well as the PlayStation 5.