Madden NFL 21 is also being played more in its first week of availability.

Madden NFL 21 has not reviewed well, and that is putting it nicely. It has been eviscerated in the Metacritic user reviews, becoming the lowest rated game of all time. However, even if you ignore the user reviews (and honestly, who pays attention to those at Metacritic when all you see are 0's or 10's from users), it's also sitting at an average of 63 from professional reviewers, which also isn't all that great.

Hell, there was even an #NFLdropEA Twitter campaign that made the rounds the other day. That probably won't do much given that EA and the NFL recently renewed their partnership for many years to come. Despite all of this public shaming and low scores, Madden NFL 21 is selling really, really well across the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Like really well.

Last year's Madden NFL 20 was a record setting year for the franchise. It set records for unique players and engagement compared to any other year in the franchise's history. Now, Madden NFL 21 has surpassed last year's records both in number of units sold and the amount of play time users have spent with the game.

Madden NFL 21 has seen an increase of 20% sell-through to consumers when compared to last year's release within the first week. Similarly, since the game's launch on August 28 players have played nearly 50% more games of Madden NFL 21 compared to the first week of Madden NFL 20. In addition, the new game mode added to this year's title, The Yard, has seen more than 17 million games played already.

Madden NFL 21 infographic

“After the most successful year in franchise history, fans are now playing more Madden than ever before. In the last weeks, players have shown their passion for Madden with a lot of great feedback and stellar engagement in Madden NFL 21,” said Seann Graddy, Executive Producer, EA SPORTS Madden NFL. “We truly appreciate the fans who have been playing Madden NFL 21 and we are excited to bring new improvements, content and experiences with our live service updates throughout the year.”

In the first seven days of Madden NFL 21, players have completed more than 460,000 seasons of football, providing an exclusive look at how the 2020 NFL season could unfold. Players have spoken, and this year the two most popular teams are the Baltimore Ravens, led by Madden NFL 21 Cover Athlete and NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, followed by the Kansas City Chiefs, led by Madden NFL 20 cover athlete and reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes. Jackson is one of the top ball carriers across the game, with the second most rushing touchdowns of all players, and the highest rushing yards among quarterbacks and the second most passing touchdowns.

For his part, Mahomes is the top quarterback with the most passing touchdowns and passing yards per game. Not to be overlooked, is the impact of six-time Super Bowl Champion and newly minted Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady who helped raise usage of the Buccaneers by more than 850 percent compared to last year and put the team on top of the NFC South.
Does this mean that the user reviews are just the vocal minority? Well, yes and no. While it could be true that this year's Madden release is a feature-light (Franchise mode anyone?) and bug-filled mess (I have personally encountered a few minor bugs in about 5 hours of playing), it could still be the best selling and the most played game in the history of the franchise. Let's face it, there are no alternatives out there. EA has the exclusive contract with the NFL on sim-focused football games and they will continue to be the only sim-focused football game for years to come. You either get EA's Madden or you don't get anything at all.

I guess all that players can hope for at this point is that EA fixes this year's game while making next year's offering actually worth the purchase. There is just so much blame that can be placed on COVID hardships, especially when some of the reported issues are ones that existed in previous years' releases.