After an early-access trial in August, EA is giving fans another free taste of Madden 22. This one isn’t just for EA Play subscribers, though. From Thursday, Sept. 9 to Sunday, Sept. 12, Madden NFL 22 will celebrate the NFL kickoff with a global free-to-play trial that will allow fans and newcomers to the series to try the new features across all platforms. Fans will all have the opportunity to play Madden NFL 22 this weekend on the Xbox One, the Xbox Series X|S, the PlayStation 4 and 5, Steam, and Google Stadia.
Newcomers might want to try Campus Legend, a limited time feature which borrows its name from the NCAA Football single-player career mode of decades past. From Aug. 31 until Sept. 27, this iteration will focus on using college all-star teams of current and former NFL pros to unlock Madden Ultimate Team players. According to EA, the inclusion of Campus Legend as a sub-feature of the arcade-quickplay Superstar KO mode has led to a 600% increase in engagement with the mode, meaning that overall seven times the number of people, or instances of use, of Superstar KO have happened between August 2020 on Madden 21 and 2021 on Madden 22.
EA has also done some informal polling of Madden players by way of data collection. So now they know, for instance, that the Titans acquisition of Julio Jones (and maybe the NFL’s relaxed number rules) have led to Madden players more than doubling their use of the Tennessee franchise. Either that or the Titans now have more than double the fans they had last year. This brings the Titans to being the second most-used team after the Lamar Jackson-led Baltimore Ravens. The Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears have also more than doubled their team usage (the Jaguars have almost tripled it) with their drafting of Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, respectively.
This weekend will feature a few other big events tied to NFL kickoff weekend. First, the Madden e-sports league, Madden Championship Series, kicks off at 7 p.m. ET tonight. On Thursday at 5:30 p.m. ET, the Madden Twitch page and NFL YouTube will feature a showdown between two fantastic entertainers, NFL legend (and YouTube star) Marshawn Lynch and rapper/actor/comedian Lil Dicky, called “The Kickoff.” Lastly, EA will also be discounting the Madden NFL 22 MVP Edition by 25%.
The Madden franchise has seen middling reviews the past several years, with critics acquiescing to the long-held concerns of hardcore fans and casual players. While EA has started to add more creative features and game modes that stress that Madden is a real videogame and not just a sports league simulator, the on-field gameplay continues to lack and the core single-player modes—which don’t feed the micro-transactions like the Madden Ultimate Team—go mostly unattended. Still, the year-over-year financial returns have increased each of the past two years, and gradual improvements seem to keep the fans locked-in. And this new free-to-play trial and the surrounding sale will doubtlessly bring new fans into the fold.