This tells you all you need to know... about where the Madden team is with Online Franchise. ** Taken from the Game Shark review w/ Ian Cummings ** Was the team surprised that Online Franchise mode was barely touched by the user base? Does that tell you guys that the mode itself needed to be better or that gamers just arenâ€™t that interested in playing Franchise modes online? Great question. First, yes, we were totally shocked. Before Madden NFL 11, we primarily made design decisions based on our own gut feel, what we heard from reviewers, and what we heard from our community. Since online franchise was always the number one requested feature (from us internally as well as from everyone else), it was a real eye-opener to see such low usage and frankly, the possibility of how disconnected we possibly could have been from the majority of our audience. As to what the actual data tells us, well itâ€™s a few things. We did know that our more hardcore gamers would be upset with some of the depth that wasnâ€™t there (i.e. a realistic free agency/salary cap structure), but we felt confident that the franchise experience was deep enough out of the box (15 years, custom draft classes, online support, injuries, trades, etc.) that we could add features in the future and work iteratively on the mode over time. All those plans changed though when we saw the usage. It was no longer an effective strategy to be spending a major amount of work on a feature that was barely getting used (FWIW online franchise development is also some of the most specialized and difficult engineering in our game). Iâ€™ve heard some people put out the theory that usage was low because of the missing features, but thatâ€™s not the case in my opinion. If you think about it, the critical time for the cap and free agency is obviously in the offseason, and only a small fraction of our online franchise gamers even made it through year 1 to that phase. Are players interested in playing Franchise modes online? Well, yes, some definitely are. I know I am, as are a lot of designers on the team. But how many are there of us? I am not totally sure. What I do know is that itâ€™s similar to the old hardcore Madden PC folks -- itâ€™s a relatively small sect of gamers (in comparison to the big picture of Madden sales), but they are definitely the loudest group. There are many very difficult design challenges with an online franchise type of mode, number one being the scheduling. I had an online franchise last year with one of my best friends from high school that was on the west coast, and it was nearly impossible for us to sync up and play our games. Now imagine if I was in an online franchise with people I donâ€™t really know all that well (or at all)...itâ€™s a serious challenge to make you want to stay invested when you arenâ€™t able to play your games. Itâ€™s a real drag when you have like an hour to play Madden, (say your wife is expecting you to take her out for dinner, or your kids want to hang out with you or something), and you just sit in a screen waiting and hoping your opponent shows up. I think there are definitely some improvements that could be made to ease this painâ€¦things like removing commissioner dependency, or pre-determined/scheduled play times, but I donâ€™t know if more improvements like those get us any major up-tick in usage of the mode. One thing to be clear onâ€”we havenâ€™t given up on the mode. If we had given up, weâ€™d cut it completely as it costs a substantial amount of money to maintain and support. Weâ€™re continuing to do extensive research on who is playing, why they are playing, and more importantly who is dropping out and why. I for one am really curious how NCAAâ€™s Online Dynasty numbers stack up this year, because they have an extremely rich feature-set out there with Dynasty Wire, recruiting, web-support, and the like. If they end up with big-time numbers, then weâ€™d obviously re-evaluate our current thinking.