Madden is wading into dangerous territory. For the first time in Madden‘s history, an equipment update will give players a stat boost.
EA Sports released the patch notes for Madden 20‘s January update, and it includes the addition of the Nike Vapor Edge cleat. As The Verge notes, only athletes who are signed to Nike (Ezekiel Elliott, Dalvin Cook, and Christian McCaffrey to name a few) will have access to this shoe. It’s not just for looks, though. EA has confirmed that wearing the shoe will actually make these players faster:
— Madden NFL 20 (@EAMaddenNFL) January 30, 2020
Equipping the Nike Vapor Edges will grant a +1 bonus to speed or acceleration. It’s not much, sure, but we’re teetering perilously close to setting an awful precedent. EA can start a bidding war, asking apparel companies to pay so that their products and athletes are represented as more capable. Right now, Nike athletes are just a tiny bit quicker than their official ratings, all because they’re wearing the right shoe.
It doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to also imagine a scenario where EA locks stat-enhancing equipment behind small microtransactions, forcing the player to pay for the boost. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Madden 20 is going down a path of preferential treatment based on sponsorship deals. Nike players have an advantage, minor as it may be.