It appears as though NCAA Division I hockey is preparing to throw its hat into the video game arena.  This news comes on the heels of the CHL and EA Sports’ formally announcing an agreement leading to the inclusion of both CHL teams and players in the video game developer’s upcoming NHL 11.  Given the popularity of hockey video games, and the NCAA’s addition of Paul Kelly as the director of hockey marketing operations, it shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise that the two are in “talks”.

Kelly admitted on the Pipeline Show that there is no formal announcement at this point, and Electronic Arts is currently taking the ‘no comment’ stance at this time according to industry insiders.

“We, the colleges, are very interested in having that happen and we are just currently in the process of figuring out what dimensions that ought to take. [But] just as there is going to be a CHL component to the video game, there will be a college hockey component as well.” - Kelly

Now an NCAA hockey game or its addition to the NHL series is certainly cool in theory, but as with EA Sports’ other installments in their NCAA line of games it does beg the question:  will anyone actually care?

Outside of the semi-popular NCAA Football series, the college sports genre has been a tough sell as evidenced by the demise of MVP College Baseball and the more recently disposed NCAA Basketball.  The problem with these titles has never been the gameplay, but the lack of authenticity.  NCAA Basketball 10 featured first overall NBA draft pick Blake Griffin on the cover, incredibly detailed CBS and ESPN in-game presentation, and rich stadium designs, but actual rosters in the game were filled with created players in place of real-life NCAA stars.  The struggles for the NCAA gaming franchise are simply traced back to the difficulty in obtaining licensing.

It must be noted that a video game using an American university’s symbols or likenesses in a video game must go through the Collegiate Licensing Clearinghouse, and such deals are not cheap. While EA Sports already has a relationship with that authority through its NCAA Football franchise, the defunct NCAA Basketball and MVP College Baseball show the challenges of making a collegiate sport other than football sustainable.

-Kotaku

While it would presumably be neat to pick up a controller and attempt to guide Boston College to NCAA championship glory, it could quickly become inane when instead of tickling the twine with Cameron Atkinson you’re left to lead the team with make-believe players with names like ‘Sticky McJefferson’.  Sorry, but I’d take a pass on that.  The re-playability of next generation sports games is built upon the foundation of the likenesses of their real-life counterparts.  NCAA Division I hockey has seen its popularity rising the past couple of seasons, and there’s no doubt that the addition of Paul Kelly will only help foster growth, but they might not be ready for a step into the video game market just yet.

Comments (11)

  1. i like the addition of CHL teams, but NCAA…….really. I mean draw the line somewhere, maybe they should also add all junior A, B, and mnor hockey teams as well. CHL will be fun but NCAA does not belong in NHL11.

  2. Sounds like people are getting a little over excited at this new break through for EA and it’s hockey franchise. Indeed you do have to draw the line I know I’d be much more interested in having the KHL teams rather then the NCAA teams. EA makes most of it’s money from Canada and most places over sea’s where hockey is big. KHL will draw more people into from over there and having the CHL teams will bring more people into it here. But I do have one major issue. While the CHL Idea will keep the draft more interesting what happens after all the players from the roster updates are gone? It’ll be back to drafting random people again. But of course by then NHL 12 will be out so I guess it really doesn’t matter.

  3. I’m not really seeing the distinction between having the NCAA and the CHL in the NHL games, insofar as their relevance past Season 2 of the simulated leagues. Both are going to be irrelevant when randomly amalgamated names like “Henrik Ovechkin” and “Steve Chelios” start showing up.

    As for Chris’s comment, how is NCAA a lower tier than the CHL?

  4. It’s purely from a national standpoint – americans I’m sure would prefer having NCAA access while canadians are happy with the CHL content. Of course that’s a generalization, but I think overall that’s how it is.

  5. Side note: I heard China was making big inroads in terms of organized, pro hockey. Maybe we could include the chinese teams as well?

  6. If you’re putting in the CHL, might as well put in the NCAA.

    Lord knows I’d rather play as Michigan State than Red Deer.

    But a separate game is pointless, espeically as EA is being sued in a class action regarding NCAA football. And more importantly, the college games in football and basketball (option offences and the shot clock, respectively) are far different than the pros, whereas in hockey, it’s the same thing. I’d be more interested in EA putting some work into their international teams again, as this year was disappointing.

  7. i like the idea but of having the option to “send your player to college ranks” in dynasty etc but i dont think having the teams playable is really something that is needed. The CHL was needed because the be pro modeand dynasty really didnt make sense because your player was starting in the AHL as a 18 year old. The CHL teams make it more authentic and personally is one of the only reasons im going to shell out another 60 for another ea nhl game.

  8. Luckily, EA Sports has put something in NCAA Football the past couple of years that either the NCAA doesn’t care about or is too stupid to figure out. Basically, you can download a roster file from anybody who has uploaded one, and there’s always at least ONE guy who has gone through every single team and changed QB#15 to Tim Tebow. Now, I’m not saying that they should make an NCAA hockey game (though I’d buy it in a heartbeat), but hopefully they’d put that feature in for a bit of added authenticity.

  9. Bruce touched on this, and a couple others, but I really like that you can presumably take a player through the Junior ranks and earn a draft spot. In the past couple of installments your draft position was determined in the “future stars” game or whatever it was called. Instead of just putting up six points in one game, you’ll have to develop your player in either the Q, OHL, or WHL. I think that’s pretty cool. As for the NCAA element, I like the idea, but I’m concerned the execution of it could be hampered by the exclusion of real players. That’s just me, and I’m a stickler for that kind of stuff.

  10. “Luckily, EA Sports has put something in NCAA Football the past couple of years that either the NCAA doesn’t care about or is too stupid to figure out. Basically, you can download a roster file from anybody who has uploaded one, and there’s always at least ONE guy who has gone through every single team and changed QB#15 to Tim Tebow. Now, I’m not saying that they should make an NCAA hockey game (though I’d buy it in a heartbeat), but hopefully they’d put that feature in for a bit of added authenticity.”

    I noted it above, but there’s a MASSIVE class action suit ongoing in the U.S. right now revolving around this very issue. Check out the piece on the Outside the Lines web page for more details.

    EA is disabling the feature on a go-forward basis, obviously, to limit their potential liability before a new game comes out.

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