While EA's Madden football games often top sales charts every year, those sales haven't reflected quality. The critical consensus on the series has been on the decline in recent years, and Madden NFL 22 was riddled with bugs that hampered the experience. Thankfully, the developers are aware of Madden's flaws and trying to improve its signature gameplay with Madden NFL 23.
Madden 23 Official Reveal Trailer
Speaking to Digital Trends, Executive Producer of Gameplay Aaron McHardy painted a picture of a more somber and reflective development of Madden NFL 23 as EA Tiburon mourned rthe passing of series namesake John Madden and tried to make up for the franchise's past failures. While Digital Trends hasn't gone hands-on with the game yet, McHardy highlights that Madden NFL 23 will address many issues fans have thanks to a plethora of bug fixes and a new suite of features called FieldSENSE that touches every part of the experience.
"The investment in FieldSENSE, bug fixes, and gameplay was so big because we know FieldSENSE hits whether you're playing Franchise, Ultimate Team, The Yard, or a quick match with a friend on your couch," McHardy tells Digital Trends. "It's exciting because it hits every part of the game, every mode you're playing. We feel like anyone who plays Madden NFL 23 can really feel something new and different in the game this year."
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Before the team could make Madden NFL 23's gameplay better, they had to fix what was broken already. The past few Madden titles have all been riddled with bugs, and the situation got worse than ever with Madden NFL 22. The annual release schedule and pandemic had finally caught up to EA Tiburon's game quality. McHardy outlined the steps the developers are taking to ensure it (hopefully) doesn't happen again.
"We looked at how we developed the game and scoured the internet, and actually got our QA department to, within our dev tools, log every complaint that we could find to track them," McHardy explains. "Where possible, we'd go in and analyze that to figure out what the actual issue was that was causing someone to complain. If there was a video, we put it in our database, and if it was a general complaint about an area of our game, we'd gather them all together and figure out what all the issues are."
"We are hyperfocused on making the most polished game that we can."
This process was thorough, as the developers ended up with a list of "hundreds" of bugs and issues that EA Tiburon could improve. The team then fixed some issues as part of Madden NFL 22's live-service updates and took anything they couldn't fix into account when planning Madden NFL 23's development.
"In the way that we plan new features every year, we were also planning fixes for all of those bugs to make sure that we fixed them and also have time left to catch new ones we are creating," he said. "Polish was a big thing for us on the team this year, so while there are still some bugs because we aren't finished, we feel like the game is already in a better position this year than it was at this time last year. We are hyperfocused on making the most polished game that we can."
We won't know for sure whether or not this will all really pan out until the game is in our hands this August, but it seems like EA knows where it messed up and wants to do better.