After outcry, EA extends free upgrade offer for Madden on Xbox Series X

Madden NFL 21 publisher Electronic Arts has extended the duration of its free upgrade offer for the next-generation version of the game, changing its policy in response to criticism from fans and the media. Now, the promotion will be valid all the way until Madden NFL 22 is released in the summer of 2021.

EA announced its offer in early May during an Inside Xbox episode focusing on Xbox Series X games, in which Microsoft revealed nine titles from third-party publishers that would be part of the company’s Smart Delivery initiative. Supporting Smart Delivery means that customers who buy the Xbox One version of the game in question will receive a free upgrade to the improved Xbox Series X version once it’s released — rather than having to buy the same game on both platforms.

However, EA took a different approach that it calls “Dual Entitlement.” That’s because the publisher put time constraints on the offer, saying that in order to be eligible for it, Madden NFL 21 customers would have to buy the game on Xbox One by Dec. 31, 2020, and redeem the upgrade on Xbox Series X by March 31, 2021. The Xbox Series X is scheduled to launch this holiday season, so this policy would’ve left out anyone who didn’t buy the next-gen console within its first five or so months on the market. The qualifiers also risked confusing consumers by muddling the message on Microsoft’s simple program, as I argued in an opinion piece.

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“During our recent Inside Xbox announce, we included some dates limiting this Dual Entitlement approach,” the text on EA’s Next Level website now says. “Having listened to our players response we’re extending the offer all the way through our Madden 21 season up to the release of Madden NFL 22, so players can upgrade to Madden NFL 21 on Xbox Series X whenever they first purchase their new console within that period.”

Asked for further details, an EA representative told Polygon that the company quietly updated the site with its more generous policy “earlier this week.” The spokesperson added that EA had planned to announce the change publicly, but “decided to hold back consumer facing communication” so it could “allow more important voices to be heard,” in light of the worldwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality following the killing of George Floyd. That was also the reason that EA pushed back its reveal of Madden NFL 21 itself; the company had originally intended to unveil the game on Monday.

We don’t know much about Madden NFL 21 at this point, except for the fact that it’s due out this summer on current-generation platforms and that Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is its cover athlete. In addition, EA’s website describes the current- and next-gen versions of the game as “two distinct Madden NFL 21 experiences.” There’s no word yet on whether players on PlayStation 4 will also get a free upgrade to the PlayStation 5 version.

Expect more news on Madden NFL 21 next week — both in the delayed reveal of the game itself, and during EA Play Live, the publisher’s livestreamed replacement for a traditional E3 press briefing. EA Play Live is scheduled for 7 p.m. EDT on Thursday, June 11.

Additional reporting by Charlie Hall.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

Best Buy is throwing in another three months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate when you buy a three-month membership at the standard price. That’s a six-month membership for the price of three months.

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