Madden NFL 20 update - MUT playcalling cooldowns and stat-altering cosmetics cause controversy

The Super Bowl week update for Madden 20 brings a drastic change to playcalling and the introduction of gameplay-altering cosmetics.


As a large swath of the sports world focuses its eyes on Miami, Florida for this weekend’s upcoming Super Bowl game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers, the development team over at EA Tiburon has unleashed the newest update for Madden NFL 20. In addition to the usual stability improvements and Superstar X-Factor trait adjustments, the team has implemented some changes to address balance issues in competitive games and added the first cosmetic item that can materially affect gameplay.

In partnership with Nike, EA has added the Vapor Edge Cleats to the game. This set of cleats is being applied to a group of Nike-endorsing players including, but not limited to Christian McCaffrey, Odell Beckham Jr., Kyler Murray, Ezeikel Eliiot, and Dalvin Cook. Players who use these cleats will be given a +1 to acceleration or overall speed, making this the first cosmetic item that affects gameplay. 

Christian McCaffrey gets faster Madden update Nike cleats
Wonderboy Christian McCaffrey gets even faster in this week's Madden update thanks to the Nike Vapor Edge cleats.

The most controversial change in this new update is the introduction of playcalling cooldowns and hard limits. As part of the new MUT House Rules event, EA has announced that players will no longer be allowed to call the same play on consecutive snaps. This is an attempt to address complaints from the community that participants who use “cheese plays” are ruining the fun of competitive modes. 

It was not specified exactly how many different plays must be executed during the cooldown period before players can once again run the original play that was restricted. Similarly, there was no specific number given for playcalling limits, which puts a hard cap on the total number of times that a play can be run in a single game. Details about formation selection and audibles are just as murky. Playcalling strategy in Madden NFL can be somewhat complicated, with players trying to disguise their intentions by running multiple plays out of identical formations and changing play calls at the line of scrimmage prior to the snap. 

During a livestream on the official Madden Twitch channel during the Good Morning Madden Show, it was revealed that the playcalling changes were built in a way that would allow them to be deployed into all Madden game modes, depending on community feedback from the House Rules event period. 

Derrick Henry receives one of the final Superstar X-Factor adjustments of the season.
Derrick Henry receives one of the final Superstar X-Factor adjustments of the season.

Ultimately, this change is simply a bandaid placed over an ax wound as it merely addresses a symptom of the actual problem. Players repeatedly use these so-called “cheese” plays because they are consistently effective. They remain consistently effective because either the plays, player abilities, animations, or a combination of the three make playing defense nearly impossible. Rather than address the real problem, this change offers a video game solution to a video game complication. Social media sentiment over this week’s changes ranges from anger to frustration to apathy.

Properly addressing such issues in Madden NFL would require lots of work to the foundation of the game and EA is unlikely to do that so late in this product cycle and in the lifespan of this console generation. Any serious change to how the game of Madden works likely will not arrive until the game makes its debut on the next generation of consoles this coming autumn or next year, though even that is no guarantee based on the development history of the series. As you could infer from our review of Madden NFL 20, these issues have existed for quite some time.

Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

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