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.