'Madden NFL 21' Release Date and How to Pre-Order

The novel coronavirus pandemic means it remains to be seen whether the NFL season will get underway as expected on September 10. If real football remains up in the air, its virtual counterpart will return to the screens this summer when Madden NFL 21 lands at the end of August.

On Tuesday, EA Sports came under fierce criticism after releasing a blog post detailing the latest updates in the Franchise Mode of the newest installment of its NFL series, with fans disappointed by a lack of new features.

Specifically, fans have criticized EA Sports for focusing more on elevating its Madden Ultimate Team (MUT) mode with each new installment—which allows players obtain special cards of players to fill out their own football team and face others online—as opposed to the classic Franchise Mode—in which players manage an NFL team through several seasons, playing games and acting both as the head coach and GM.

EA Sports is scheduled to release further details on the game on July 14, although the nature of the updates remains sketchy for now.

In the meantime, here is all you need to know about the 2021 edition of the franchise.

Madden NFL 21 release date

According to EA Sports, Madden NFL 21 is slated for worldwide release on August 28 for PS4, Xbox One, PC and Google Stadia.

However, Madden NFL 21 will be available on August 21 for those with EA Access, Origin Access or Origin Access Premier. Members of EA Access for PlayStation 4 or Xbox One or those in possession of a Basic membership for Origin Access on PC will get up to 10 hours of game time with the Play First Trial.

Meanwhile, those who purchase either the Deluxe or the MVP version of the game will have access to it on August 25.

Thanks to what Sony and Microsoft have branded "dual entitlement," fans who buy either a PS4 or Xbox One version of Madden NFL 21 will get a free copy on next-generation consoles PS5 and Xbox Series X—the offer, however, is only available up to the release of Madden 22 next year.

How to preorder Madden 21

There are three different editions of Madden NFL 21 available. The Standard edition comes in at $60, while the Deluxe and MVP versions cost $75 and $85 respectively and come with early access if pre-ordered.

Pre-order is available via EA Sports official website, as well as through PS4 and Xbox's online stores and Steam. The game's MVP Edition can also be pre-ordered through the in-game tile located in the game menu on Madden NFL 20 and buyers get a 10 percent loyalty discount on the game.

Pre-orders through the Xbox Marketplace and PlayStation Store, however, don't count, and EA Sports has urged fans to "make sure you pre-order from the in-game tile from Madden NFL 20."

It is also possible to pre-order the game via more traditional channels, such as local retailers both in-store and online.

Who is on the cover of Madden NFL 21?

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is the cover athlete for this year's edition.

The former Louisville alumnus becomes the second consecutive quarterback and the second consecutive reigning NFL MVP to appear on the cover, after Patrick Mahomes was granted the honor last year.

Mahomes, who like Jackson was selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, broke the infamous "Madden curse" as he led the Kansas City Chiefs to their first Super Bowl in 50 years.

The Chiefs quarterback became only the second of 22 players to have featured on the cover of Madden NFL to win the Super Bowl in the season of his cover appearance⁠—and Jackson will be hoping to follow suit.

Madden NFL 21, Lamar Jackson
Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson in action in 'Madden NFL 21' EA Sports