Thoughts on EA’s NHL future

So today the news we were all kind of expecting was released.


Let’s bullet point form the shit out of why this sucks:

– This information was released super close to release of the game. I understand the business reason for this (gotta get those pre-orders) but from a “being nice to your consumer” side of things, it down right sucks balls. People pre-ordered the game already, and people also bought next gen consoles in anticipation of the game to play certain game modes. To hem and haw the release of this information to less than a month before the game is released, again, sucks balls.

– HUT will never die. That is the money maker, the mode that has micro transactions written all over it. To be fair, that might be their most popular mode, so they are doing the right thing money wise by making that their main priority, but it still sucks that there was no room for the people who enjoyed the other modes of the game that don’t require us to buy “Gold packs” or “Diamond Encrusted Pumpkin Pie Packs” so we can field a competitive team. Plus not everyone enjoys hockeys version of E-Bay.

– Waiting two years for the next gen hockey (and I applauded EA for not pushing out a shitty next gen version of their game, go and play Madden on Xbox One, it’s no different from the 360 version) makes it harder to take that they didn’t have time to get all the game modes in. Again, none of us see what goes on behind the scenes, but it’s still frustrating to have that much time pass and two game modes get the axe. It’s weird to see a next gen game make the leap with a ton fewer features. That is something that shouldn’t happen anymore, especially when you’re asking people to shell out $400 for a console.


– Hrm, GM Connected’s future is missing….


– Ah, and there it is. EA lost faith in the GM Connected Mode. It might never be in a game again past the 360 version of ’15.

Sure, yes, I agree, the philosophy they present is sound at first glance. If many people are not playing a game mode, then why not axe it in favor of using those resources to make other parts of the game better?

Here is my beef with that. We will never have any tangible proof they will use GM Connected resources to make things better. For all we know those resources will be spent on bringing NHL 95 mode to NHL 16, or some other random side project that doesn’t have any potential.

Seriously, how many of you played NHL ’94 mode after trying a game or two? It’s like watching an old TV show you loved as a kid. You have great memories of it, but when you watch it as an adult, you wonder what crack you were smoking to ever have enjoyed it. Hockey has improved by leaps and bounds to the point where old hockey games have to remain in the past where they belong. I thought Mr T. was the biggest bad ass I had ever seen as a child, but when I watch him now, I just shake my head.

NHL games should be about providing the best, most diverse experience possible. Which should include having multiple game mode options.

Without game modes, your game will end up on a gamers dusty shelf sooner rather than later. Case in point, the new UFC game. I bought it because it looks pretty, but it has no depth to it, the game is shallow. It’s like I paid for a high priced hooker for a week, but now she moved in and I have no idea how to get her out of my house, and I just kind of want my money back.

Secondly, they admit GM Connected was a highly requested mode. They present it as a situation where people thought they wanted it, played it, then realized it wasn’t for them. I don’t think we can reach that conclusion that quickly.

For one, they made minimal, and I mean minimal at best, improvements to GM Connected Mode. It never really improved to make it a streamlined experience. If it wasn’t the computer dumping half your players on waivers, if it wasn’t players straight up disappearing from your league (RIP Jamie McBain), it was the god damn menus in NHL 13 taking 10 minutes just to cycle through each one once. Seriously the menus were pure trash, it would take me 45 minutes just to put through trades in NHL 13.

Is it not possible that the mode was not streamlined enough to make it a pleasing experience that people just up and quit using it? Can you blame people for not wanting to play a mode in which you spent more time in the menus then the games? Sure, they made the menus somewhat faster in future versions of the game, but then there was the complete lack of functionality for the  “commisioner” role. You basically had the option to change how overtime worked, and allow trades. That was about the extent of your power. You couldn’t set universal league settings, you couldn’t access any other teams rosters to fix problems, you couldn’t turn injuries off or on. Our first off-season in NHL 13 was a gong show because the salary cap wasn’t explained at all and we had no idea how to calculate our team spending. It was hard to work through.

Basically you had to be a super hardcore fan of the mode to put up with its flaws, which is why I am very curious how well it would do if it got the support other modes received.

Also, the injury algorithm EA used was garbage. I know they have defended it, and they have told me to my face that their injury algorithm was fine, but if you had injuries on and simmed games, you would have at least one, if not three, top stars out for 30 games by week two. Again, this was another frustrating part of this mode, because playing with a team you put together through trades and signings, only to end up with Jesse Joensu on your top line for half the season, is a sad sad time.

So again, I know they can focus on HUT and in the future EASHL. I understand the idea of going the easy route and utilizing the modes that make money. Hey, at the end of the day, big business likes its money, and we GM Connected guys could be a super small minority so fuck us. But I would hope, in the spirit of trying to make the most in depth and deep game of hockey they can possibly make, that the EA NHL team does not remove this mode from NHL 16. Try and put some resources into it, let it realize its full potential. People wanted this mode in 2013, the demand was there. At least give it one more shot, fixing all of the problems you have seen that can occur from a GM Connected Mode, and put it back in the game for NHL 16, and see what a fully fleshed out GM Connected Mode can do.

Remember you guys excitedly talking about how people could make trades on their phone while in a business meeting? I do. That excitement is still there. This mode has brought strangers together and made friends out of us. Help foster good communities and new friendships by making the best damn Connected Mode you can make. Make the best damn of hockey you can make, don’t just try and stick to the same old same old. Dream big and go for it.

God damn it.



2 thoughts on “Thoughts on EA’s NHL future

  1. Is there any good reason why I can’t challenge my friend to an online versus series? Like a best of 5 with injuries turned on? Since that doesn’t seem to be included, I hope they allow us to just select “rematch” in the post-game menu so we don’t have to go through the entire game setup again. With the “on-ice” product getting better and better, it would be a shame if basic user experience hasn’t improved, especially online.

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