Love Hate Relationship With Sports Game.

Posted by vietthreat (65 posts) -

It has been 5 years since I started playing EA's NHL franchise where I started with NHL 07. The unique thing about NHL 07 was that it was introducing something that hockey games hadn't done in what the called the skill stick. Before, hockey games only used a button to shoot and a button to deke. With the skill stick players were now given full control of their players stick which to someone who watched hockey seemed like an amazing revelation. Fast forward 5 years and NHL 13 showcases their new skating engine while 2K's hockey series is now non-existent leaving EA to be the sole provider of hockey simulation games. The thing about NHL 07 that drew me to start playing the EA series was that innovated gameplay mechanic that was driven by them wanting to one up 2k in the hockey simulation genre. My problem with the current state of hockey simulation games and sports games in general, is that innovation has been repressed thanks to a lack of competition.

I hate to play the NHL games because of the fact that I am just feeding a cashcow for EA where they just take my money and don't provide me with something that is new but simply just add some tweaks and innovations that could have been all included last years addition but because of the fact that the game has to be annualized, they hold back those features for future titles. On the other hand these games are not terrible, they are still pretty good. They are a solid game that delivers what I want from a hockey game on a base level. Small complaints aside, these games are overall good. But imagine what they could achieve if they didn't have to release a new one each year but possibly every 2 years where the middle year would receive a patch that could update rosters and tweak game play bugs and stuff. If they wanted to make money from it they could even charge a fee for those updates if they really wanted to.

No matter what I say they will continue to release a new NHL game every year because I will still pay them. What needs to happen is for another company to come in with the a product that challenges the NHL games. It doesn't have to be specifically using the NHL players but it could be nameless players with gameplay that is better than what EA's games offer. I debate with myself every year if I should stop buying these games but in the end I do. I guess really the only person I have to blame is myself.

#1 Posted by vietthreat (65 posts) -

It has been 5 years since I started playing EA's NHL franchise where I started with NHL 07. The unique thing about NHL 07 was that it was introducing something that hockey games hadn't done in what the called the skill stick. Before, hockey games only used a button to shoot and a button to deke. With the skill stick players were now given full control of their players stick which to someone who watched hockey seemed like an amazing revelation. Fast forward 5 years and NHL 13 showcases their new skating engine while 2K's hockey series is now non-existent leaving EA to be the sole provider of hockey simulation games. The thing about NHL 07 that drew me to start playing the EA series was that innovated gameplay mechanic that was driven by them wanting to one up 2k in the hockey simulation genre. My problem with the current state of hockey simulation games and sports games in general, is that innovation has been repressed thanks to a lack of competition.

I hate to play the NHL games because of the fact that I am just feeding a cashcow for EA where they just take my money and don't provide me with something that is new but simply just add some tweaks and innovations that could have been all included last years addition but because of the fact that the game has to be annualized, they hold back those features for future titles. On the other hand these games are not terrible, they are still pretty good. They are a solid game that delivers what I want from a hockey game on a base level. Small complaints aside, these games are overall good. But imagine what they could achieve if they didn't have to release a new one each year but possibly every 2 years where the middle year would receive a patch that could update rosters and tweak game play bugs and stuff. If they wanted to make money from it they could even charge a fee for those updates if they really wanted to.

No matter what I say they will continue to release a new NHL game every year because I will still pay them. What needs to happen is for another company to come in with the a product that challenges the NHL games. It doesn't have to be specifically using the NHL players but it could be nameless players with gameplay that is better than what EA's games offer. I debate with myself every year if I should stop buying these games but in the end I do. I guess really the only person I have to blame is myself.

#2 Posted by cclemon36 (181 posts) -

I, too, love me some NHL, and thank goodness hockey is the only sport I'm into gaming-wise. I'm only talking about EA NHL when I say this (it's the only franchise I'm familiar with), but they have become masters at walking the line between sufficient and insufficient amount of new content in yearly releases, in fact, they get to decide where that line goes, and as you said, there's no one to really challenge them on this. They spanned the new board play and physics engine implementation through two games and now they are doing the same with goalie AI and I wouldn't be surprised if NHL 14 adds "even more realistic skating". This is being done to the point that they present even minor gameplay tweaks as game changers. 2K's NHL games were doing great up until the end of the last console cycle, so here's to hoping they come back with a bang, perhaps for the next round of consoles.

I have to say, however, that I liked how EA released EURO 2012 as DLC for FIFA 12 instead of a standalone game. I'm sure it was purely a business decision, but a slick move nonetheless. Maybe they'll come out with NHL 14 DLC for NHL 13? Amirite? No? Ok.

Anyway, a good read, thanks, and I agree with your sentiments, even the part about being EA's bitch, especially that part.

#3 Posted by vietthreat (65 posts) -

@cclemon36: Thanks for the comment. I would love to see them do something like that for NHL and just give the team more time to work on the title and actually something significant when it comes to new features and game mechanics. Who knows maybe EA will be met by the ghost of Christmas past and then realize they should just give NHL games for free =).

#4 Posted by MightyDuck (1524 posts) -

I was just thinking about this as well. I've been a die hard hockey fan since I was a kid and have bought my share of EA NHL games since NHL 95. However, I'm hoping someone also steps up to provide competition to EA. The 2K series always had great presentation which is something EA really needs to implement. That being said, I'm probably still part of the problem since I just preordered NHL 13 on amazon. Although in my defense it was because you get a $15 gift card with it. If any of you guys play NHL on PS3 feel free to add me. My psn name is GetWhatYaGive.

#5 Posted by btman (1038 posts) -

There won't be any major changes until the next generation of consoles come out. Hopefully by then they'll be able to improve the AI significantly so that it doesn't frustrate me.

#6 Posted by JFunkhouser (73 posts) -

You make a valid point. Personally I solve that problem by buying it every other year. I have to say that NHL 13 is a huge improvement, AI-wise and the skating adds very much to the gameplay. Didn't play 12 very much, but it felt very much like 11. EASHL is also much better. Back to your point, I very much agree EA needs a competitor, but there is no way ANYONE is going to take on the challenge, at least not this gen.

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