When I think back to the video games of my younger years, one of the first series that comes to mind is Madden NFL. Over the past decade or so, Madden’s acclaim has waned in many circles, and I can’t say that I’ve personally been invested with the product during that time. Unfortunately, my relationship with Madden has deteriorated, and I’m now long past those simpler times where I’d hype myself up for the latest release.

This week, in which a ton of Madden NFL 22 information is being released to the public, I’ve been evaluating why the past 12 or so games have been either forgettable or not worth buying. A part of me wants to chalk this up to a nostalgic want, while another part is tempted to blame a qualitative need. Either way, the series hasn’t stacked up in years, in my opinion, and I’m determined to justify this feeling.

Picking up Madden on release day was a yearly ritual that happened for about a five-year stretch in my life in the mid-to-late 2000s. This was right around the end of PlayStation 2 era, which may be a contributing factor to the downfall. When Madden was built for a simpler console, it was a less complicated game that had some wide appeal. The more modern Maddens have become so rundown with empty features, almost exclusively requiring steady Internet access, that I question what a young person is getting into with the series these days.

I’m not sure who the audience for Madden is. Football purists seem to have jumped ship and casual gamers probably don’t want to pay for add-ons and an overtly complex game. Additionally, the modern Madden experience is riddled with glitches and bugs, something that has been constantly brought up by the people who still buy the game every year. EA, the game’s developer, is certainly making a ton of money off of the series, but each subsequent installment in panned by fans. It’s purchased, but it isn’t satisfying.

Personally, I’m more invested in the NFL now than I ever was, yet the game that represents the league turns me off. The experience reeks of corporate stagnation, with EA never challenging their pre-baked systems or listening to the people who buy the game.

Perhaps that’s my major beef. If I felt that EA was listening to the crowd’s concerns, rather than just packaging the same game over and over again, I’d be more inclined to buy it consistently. But without the charm that made the game special on earlier consoles, I can’t get into the experience. It’s a shame, really.

To be clear, I have played Madden over the past few years, but almost always at a friend’s house. Shelling out the money myself, however, feels like a bad idea at this point in time. When I get the sense that strides have been made, I’ll gladly rejoin the Madden community. But from what I’ve seen of Madden NFL 22, it looks like my return will have to wait at least another year.