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Thursday, July 18, 2024

The PC version of Madden 23 doesn’t include its biggest new feature

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The version of Madden NFL 23 you can pre-purchase on Steam is not the same Madden 23 you can get for the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. It’s equivalent to the version being released for the last-gen PS4 and Xbox One consoles, which are nearly 10 years old. That means the PC version won’t include Madden 23’s headline feature, a “physics-informed” animation system called “FieldSense.”

If we take EA’s word for it, FieldSense is a major addition to the series that affects every play in every mode of Madden 23. Whereas the outcome of a Madden 22 play could be predicted based on player animations, EA says that FieldSense lets you “change the outcome until the play is over” with over 3,500 new motion-captured moves and “animation branching technology.” That technology contributes to a “skill-based passing” system, new 360-degree cut controls, and “a suite of new wide receiver release moves and defensive back counter press mechanics.” 

I’m not going to pretend to know what defensive back counter press mechanics are, and sports game features with trademarked names like “FieldSense” sometimes contribute less to the fun than they do to the impression that you’re getting more than an expensive roster update, but if the PS5 has defensive back counter press mechanics, then dammit, I want them, too. I’m not aware of any Windows 11 counter press mechanic compatibility issues that make them impossible to put on PC, either.

The PC version of Madden 22 was also the last-gen console version, so this isn’t too surprising, but Madden is lagging behind EA’s other, more foot-centric football game. FIFA 22 also got the last-gen console port treatment on PC, but EA recently announced that the upcoming FIFA 23 will be the same across PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S. Future Madden PC releases may follow that example, according to the publisher.

“We have a passionate community of Madden players on PC,” an EA Sports rep told PC Gamer, “and it’s important to our development team that the PC version of Madden becomes comparable to the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S versions in the future.”

The comment is no guarantee that Madden 24 will get a proper, current-gen PC release, but I’ll take it as a good sign. In the meantime, we’re FieldSenseless, and therefore can buy Madden NFL 23 on PC for $60 instead of the $70 that the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S versions go for. That $10 discount isn’t very satisfying given that $60 was the standard price for big budget console games until recently.

It’s the principle for me, though, and that principle is: I want everything. Knowing that Madden 23’s PC version isn’t as technically complex or animation-filled as the current-gen console versions makes it unappealing to me, and I’d probably feel that way even if FieldSense turned out to make the game worse. I didn’t get into PC gaming because I wanted the best experience: I got into it because I want all the stuff, with no compromises, even if it’s stuff I don’t understand, like mod tools I don’t know how to use, Destiny 2, and defensive back counter press mechanics.

Madden 23 is out on all platforms on August 18. If you’re waiting until EA Sports starts selling us the current version, though, Chris recently demonstrated that a game called Football Simulator has pretty advanced physics, too:

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