Electronic Arts (EA) and the National Football League (NFL) have announced the signing of a ‘multi-year partnership renewal‘ for the EA Sports Madden NFL Championship Series, an esports league that is built around EA’s flagship football game, Madden NFL. Communication from neither EA nor NFL has provided an exact timeframe for which the partnership has been renewed, but an EA press statement revealed that record engagement levels for competitive Madden NFL in last year’s esports tournament played a part.
The Madden Championship Series
The Madden Championship Series (MCS) has been functional for the best part of five years now, and EA said that MCS 22 had been the best season in its history, pushing the average minute audience metrics four times in comparison to the previous year.
“Madden NFL esports continues to deepen the love of the game with fans, players, and viewers. It’s teaching viewers how to improve at the game, while deepening engagement with Madden’s most loyal fanbase,” said Brent Koning, VP of EA Esports. “Since the MCS started five years ago, it has helped showcase the game by elevating the greatest players in the world, while giving every single Madden NFL player the chance to go from couch to champion. We can’t wait to see how the MCS 23 season unfolds.”
In addition to announcing this extension, it has also been revealed that MCS 23 will ‘closely align’ with the actual NFL season this year which begins from September and is already in preseason. The league’s first stage – Ultimate Kickoff – is already in the registration phase and the qualifiers will kickstart the season officially from August 20. The latest edition of EA’s game, Madden NFL 23, is slated to be released on August 19, a day before the season kicks off. The prize pool for the first phase alone is $180,000.
Three More Stages to Come
Three more stages of that tournament will follow – Ultimate Thanksgiving, Ultimate Wild Card, and the Last Chance Qualifier – before the final phase, the Ultimate Madden NFL 23 Bowl closes off the season during the Super Bowl LVII week in February. The prize pool for this final round of the MCS 23 will be $1 million.
“As a trusted partner for more than 30 years, EA’s commitment to football authenticity with Madden NFL is exemplary,” said Ed Kiang, VP, Video Gaming at the NFL. “Extending our partnership with EA is another avenue for the League to grow fandom off the field and enhance the EA SPORTS Madden NFL Championship Series by aligning Madden competitive gaming with NFL moments. Our joint efforts will drive the type of excitement that NFL fans expect while also highlighting the best Madden players in the world.”
The announcement around the MCS this time round will serve to boost EA’s own efforts to improve optics around Madden 23, which will be the first edition in many years to have John Madden on the cover following his death last year. Polishing the game has been an internal project that was given a significant budget boost this time around following years of reputational damage brought about by infamous bugs in gameplay.
It is understood that EA have increased investment in quality control for this edition, including the use of AI tools, which they’ll be hoping serves as a solid base for a game that promises several new features – including a Franchise Mode that has long been a demand from the Madden esports community.