EA have quietly updated their next-gen upgrade offer for Madden NFL 21, extending it from a mere three-four month period to continue all the way through until the release of Madden NFL 22. During this time, you’ll be able to purchase the game for Xbox One and get a free upgrade to the Xbox Series X version of the game.
They updated the EA Next Level website to say, “Having listened to our players response we’re extending the offer all the way through our Madden 21 season up to the release of Madden NFL 22, so players can upgrade to Madden NFL 21 on Xbox Series X whenever they first purchase their new console within that period.” At this time, it’s not known if EA will offer a similar scheme to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 players.
The publisher haven’t made a big song and dance about this, explaining to Polygon that, while they changed the policy, they had “decided to hold back consumer facing communication” so that they could “allow more important voices to be heard.”
This obviously refers to the support that EA and numerous other video game companies have given to anti-racism protests around the world that have followed the killing of George Floyd, both with simple messages expressing anti-racist sentiments, and more direct actions to donate to charity, implement measures within companies and to make changes to games to stamp out racism.
Madden NFL 21’s reveal and the EA Play Live digital showcase have both been delayed from the first fortnight of June for that reason. It’s worth remembering that NFL as a sport is inextricably linked to the protests and Black Lives Matter movement in general after former quarterback Colin Kaepernick started protesting police brutality and inequality in 2016 by kneeling during the anthem that precedes each match. He’s since become a figurehead for the movement, despite being ostracised from the sport shortly after.
With regard to the extension. Microsoft have made some waves with the Smart Delivery scheme, inviting game developers and publishers to let consumers buy a single copy of a game and get optimised versions of it for both Xbox One and Xbox Series X. During their Xbox 20/20 gameplay and game announcement stream, a number of games were shown to be taking advantage of this, including Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, but EA notably took a different approach that put limits on the time during which players could claim an upgrade.
While it’s good to see EA broaden the programme, it’s worth noting that this still doesn’t offer the flexibility that Smart Delivery will do.