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Madden NFL 23 PC Review – A precedent for lameness


Sports games have been around for as long as video games have been a thing. The first video game itself can be called a sports game, with Pong taking the world by storm in 1972 with its next-gen graphics and innovative gameplay. With the sports genre having such a historically deep connection with the video game industry and the ever-changing nature of team rosters, it only makes sense that we get a new title from franchises like Madden NFL every year.

Suffice to say, however, each new installment in the long-running Madden franchise (which is now at its 23rd title) should add something new for players to experience. While it can be hard to reinvent the football, and with 23 titles many can assume that the Madden franchise has ‘figured out’ how to make the perfect football game, a $59.99 price tag should ensure that you’re getting something new. At the very least, you shouldn’t be paying for something you already own.

For owners of Madden 22 who excitedly purchased the PC version of Madden 23, this is exactly what ended up happening. See, leading up to the release of Madden 23, developers of the game spoke highly of their new “FieldSENSE” system — a revolutionary new technology that improved on the game with advanced physics, skill-based passing, and a list of other exciting keywords that made Madden 23 sound more like an actual televised Football match and not a video game. PC players got none of this.

Madden 23’s next-gen update also featured a litany of graphical improvements, making full use of next-gen consoles to make a truly immersive and beautiful visual experience. On a nice TV, playing Madden 23 might feel like you are actually in the game, with lifelike visuals, incredible lighting and 4k textures.

Great for console players, but PC players also miss out on this update.

Image: Electronic Arts

At this point, you might find yourself wondering, “If Madden 23’s PC version doesn’t have the coveted FieldSENSE system or next-gen graphics, than what are PC players buying?” The answer is a $60 roster update for Madden NFL 22.

Without these console exclusive improvements, Madden 23 is nothing more than Madden 22 with an updated roster of characters. Note the word updated, not different, as more or less the entire roster of Madden 22 is available in Madden 23, alongside some new players. This is the equivalent of downloading a really well-made mod to add additional players to your game.

As you might imagine, this has led to a major backlash from the community of players who purchased the game at its full price tag. While reviews well on the Playstation and Xbox stores, the Steam version of the game has received overwhelmingly negative reviews as players quickly discovered a lack of features promised to them.

And that’s exactly what they were; promised features. The selling point of the game was the FieldSENSE and next-gen graphical updates, which for no clear reason were excluded from the PC port of the game with no real warning to players who purchased it.

EA, the publishers of Madden 23, set the price tag for their game, an industry standard of $59.99 both on Steam and console stores. But despite paying the same price as console players, PC players simply do not get the same amount of features included in the console version, for no apparent reason whatsoever.

This sets a dangerous and irritating precedent for new games to come, where publishers can simply choose to release lesser versions of their games to PC and charge the same price for them.

Their reasoning, likely, is the idea that not everyone has a PC that can run next-gen level graphics like a modern console can. However, removing the option from players to experience the full extent of the game they thought they were purchasing just to sell to a wider audience is, without argument, a pretty scummy business practice.

While some might disagree with that statement, the fact remains that there is no difference between Madden 22 and 23 besides the promised missing features. Anybody can agree that repackaging an already released game for an additional $60 is not agreeable business practice.

Speaking of not agreeable business practice, the game features a loot box system for unlocking players, in typical EA fashion.

Madden Coach Image
Image: Electronic Arts

Backlash for EA’s decision to remove next-gen features from the PC version of the game is reflected in the game’s Steam store page, which has almost all negative reviews just a day after the game’s release. Hopefully community response to this decision will lead to EA releasing their promised FieldSENSE and next-gen features to the PC version.

Beyond that, there really isn’t much to say about Madden 23. It’s a football game, and you can, in fact, play football in it. Nearly all gameplay and team management features from Madden 22 are present in this game, so if you liked Madden 22 you’d probably like 23. though you’d probably be better off just sticking to the game you already own.

It’s worth noting that those who haven’t yet made up their mind after reading this review can try the game for 10 hours with an EA Play membership, giving you the chance to experience it yourself without paying the full price tag.

The Final Word

I can’t, in good conscience, recommend this game to anyone playing on PC. Loyal fans of the Madden franchise probably already own Madden 22, and won’t be getting anything new, and those looking to make Madden 23 their first Madden game would probably be better off buying 22 instead. Console players should feel free to pick up 23 and experience all of its promised next-gen features, but PC players should wait until EA (hopefully) patches their promised updates into the game.

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Our Madden NFL 23 review was written based on the PC version of the game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website!

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