Madden Ultimate Team, the card-collecting/player-management/online multiplayer mishmash that's become an obsession for many, will not be active during the three-day exclusive full preview of Madden NFL 12 offered by EA Sports' "Season Ticket" premium subscription, according to EA Sports.
It's a blow to the value of "Season Ticket" as hardcore fans of Ultimate Team would seem to be at the nexus of the biggest reasons to shell out the $25 for the new subscription. Season Ticket offers a 20 percent discount on DLC—including the lots of coins players can buy to get a leg up on their card-collecting and team improvement—and three days with the game before its street date.
Now, "Madden Coins," Ultimate Team's currency, can be earned with online play during the Season Ticket preview weekend even if players can't build, stock and play with their Ultimate Team. This coin balance, like all save files generated by the preview version, will carry over to the retail version of the game once a subscriber buys that.
Further, EA Sports confirmed that its first major roster update, capturing all of the trades, free agent signings and releases since the lockout was lifted at the end of July, will be available over Xbox Live and PlayStation Network on Aug. 26, the day Season Ticket subscribers may download the game.
The game ships with a vastly outdated roster, as the game code was finalized before the NFL and the NFLPA resolved their labor war. The four-month lockout had forestalled all offseason roster moves other than the rookie draft in April. EA Sports will move an Aug. 26 roster update and then at least one more before the NFL regular season kicks off Sept. 8.
This is of particular importance to those playing Madden's persistent modes like Franchise; those with Season Ticket can start one with the updated rosters and, while the preview game vanishes at noon EDT Aug. 30, any save files they generated with it will remain, and can be used with a full retail copy picked up that day or later.
One other note: This year the game expands its roster limit to 75, allowing for more realistic injured reserve lists, pre-season cuts, and inclusion of role-players and other specialists. That expansion, however, was based on a roster limit under the old collective bargaining agreement. The new deal struck in late July by the NFL and its players allows for pre-season rosters of up to 90 players, but there was no way to incorporate this in Madden NFL 12.