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Madden NFL 21 next-gen gameplay revealed

Our first look at the future of sports video games

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Madden NFL 21 will be the first entry in the long-running simulation football franchise to launch on next-generation consoles, and now we have an idea of how it’s going to look, courtesy of a snippet of Xbox Series X gameplay footage that debuted Thursday morning during an episode of Inside Xbox.

The clip from Madden NFL publisher Electronic Arts featured far more of Madden NFL 20 cover athlete Patrick Mahomes, who introduced the gameplay footage. Mahomes said that people who buy the game on Xbox One will get the Xbox Series X version for free, but EA didn’t indicate that Madden NFL 21 will be part of Microsoft’s Smart Delivery program for free next-gen upgrades. The reason is because it’s not.

Smart Delivery is a program for first-party Xbox One/Xbox Series X games, and third-party publishers can opt in to it. EA is handling things differently — it’s offering a free upgrade, but only as a limited-time offer, the publisher announced after Inside Xbox. In order to get the next-gen version of Madden NFL 21 for free, you “must purchase the game [on Xbox One] before Dec. 31 and redeem your upgrade on Xbox Series X by March 31, 2021,” EA said in an FAQ on the EA Sports website.

In addition, Madden NFL 21 will be “Optimized for Xbox Series X,” meaning that its developers at EA Tiburon are taking advantage of the increased capabilities of the next-gen console so that the game looks and runs better there.

As for the gameplay footage, EA showed about seven seconds of a game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, with Mahomes taking the ball into the end zone while being tackled.

We don’t yet know anything else about Madden NFL 21, except that its cover will feature Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. Madden typically arrives in August; it will likely debut on PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One before being released on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X this holiday season.

Update: We’ve clarified the details of EA’s free next-gen upgrade from Xbox One to Xbox Series X.

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