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Here is what's new in Madden NFL 15's Connected Franchise mode

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Madden NFL 15's release is less than three weeks away, but today is the first time we're hearing of developer EA Tiburon's changes to the game's Connected Franchise mode, which include pregame preparation and player progression.

Tiburon has replaced the old practice and hot/cold streak systems with Game Prep and Confidence. The latter is a variable rating (ranging from 1 to 99, with 50 as the baseline) that represents how secure a player feels in their current role. Confidence is affected by factors such as whether they're a starter or backup, how well they played in the previous game and how important that game was. Confidence levels above the 75-80 range will increase a player's typical attributes, while ratings below the 25-30 range will drop them.

Instead of playing scrimmages in practice, Connected Franchise owners will use Game Prep to get their players ready for each game. Owners allocate a limited budget of time, which correlates with the number of off-days that week, to activities that raise athletes' confidence or earn XP for them.

"If you're trying to develop a young team like the Jaguars or Bucs, focus most on getting your players XP. If you're a team like the Seahawks or 49ers, it's better to focus on increasing confidence," said Josh Looman, senior designer on Madden 15, in a blog post from Tiburon. It's unclear if Tiburon completely eliminated the ability to practice plays in Connected Franchise this year; we've asked the studio for more details, and will update this article with any information we receive. You can train players yourself in gameplay through Skills Trainer drills.

Tiburon also went through a number of smaller tweaks to Connected Franchise, with redesigned elements including free agency, draft classes, Owner Mode financials and simulating into the future. Check out Looman's article for all the details.

Madden NFL 15 is set for release Aug. 26 on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.