Madden NFL 23 screenshot

Madden NFL 23 devs want to stop money plays forever

By Steven Rondina


Aug 6, 2022

Reading time: 3 min

The developers working on Madden NFL 23 have a very simple plan for the game, and it starts with a focus on the game’s so-called “money plays.”

The idea behind the Madden NFL franchise is meant to be simple. It’s supposed to simulate playing a real game of football. The trouble is that unless the game is immaculate it will feel more like playing an exploitable video game.

For those who committedly play Madden, it’s not just about running good plays or identifying holes in opponents’ formations. Much more important are things like exploiting the game’s AI and the physics engine. This results in dedicated players finding particular plays that have a higher probability of winning, dubbed money plays.

While they’ve existed for years now, the Madden NFL 23 creators are looking to kill off money plays forever, and devs have admitted as much.

What are money plays in Madden NFL 23?

Money plays in the Madden series are offensive plays that have a high probability of success because AI defensive players strugge to deal with them. These are the plays that almost guarantee yardage unless opponents know exactly how to defend against them and have the proper lineup in place to do so.

“I think, from a high level, just the changes we did in deep zone and pass rush this year helps combat the problem of money plays…We added zone drift logic that gives our deep zoners the awareness to not continue drifting up the field if they don’t have a vertical threat so they can leverage that deep crossing route,” an EA Sports senior producer has told IGN.

While there’s no perfect defensive scheme in real-life football, the issue is amplified in the Madden video game. The size and commitment of the Madden player base inevitably leads to players finding the little tricks required to bait simulated defenders out of position in ways that reliably result in forward progress. Stopping money plays through in-game improvements to defense, including the new mechanics in the FieldSENSE system, was one of the top priorities for the team for Madden NFL 23.

This will ultimately go down as something of a rebuilding year for the Madden franchise, but that may be welcome news for series fans. Though it remains one of the most popular gaming franchises in the world, the game has struggled with its quality control over the last few years. 

Madden NFL 21 fizzled with critics and cratered with fans, with a 6.3 media review average and 0.5 fan average according to Metacritic. Madden NFL 22 was a modest improvement but still checks in with one of the worst review averages in the series’ history.

There are some new bells and whistles coming to Madden NFL 23, including the improvements to the game’s franchise mode. The goal for the Madden development team still seems to be to give fans what they’re accustomed to, but to do it better than before. And that may be just what the series needs at this point.


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