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EA Feels the Wrath of Fans Over NHL 15 Flub

In 1992, the NHL introduced the “instigator” rule, handing an extra two-minute minor penalty to a player who starts a fight. Here in 2014, many video game fans think the book should be thrown at video game maker Electronic Arts for their efforts on the latest version of their wildly popular NHL franchise.

But will EA’s reportedly awful effort on NHL 15 really cause its long-time fans to abandon ship?

Owing to time constraints imposed by developing the game for the next-generation PS4 and Xbox One consoles, EA simply left many of the now legacy features out of the new iteration of NHL 15. The company says that some of these will make their way back to the game in the form of updates, but that isn’t sitting well with hardcore sports gamers. Some of them say they may pass on the NHL series for the first time ever.

Popular features such as online team play, Season Mode, fantasy draft in GM mode, the ability to edit players or teams, plus a host of others, simply aren’t part of the new game and its fans have no assurances as to if and when they will be incorporated.

Been buying NHL every year since 96. This may be the first year I don’t pick it up. At least not until I hear something better about this game.

The decision has EA eating crow. In a blog post on August 19th, the company perhaps foresaw how the gaping hole in one of its best known games might sit with its longtime fans.

“Decisions like this are never easy, nor do we take them lightly,” said Producer Sean Ramjagsingh.”We know that there is a passionate group of fans that loves these modes and is no doubt disappointed with this news; but we also know that this same group of fans expects a high quality gameplay experience above anything else. We’re a franchise built on quality, so launching these modes without confidence in their quality wasn’t something that we were willing to do.”

But in an interview with The Globe and Mail Friday, Ramjagsingh deflected the criticism of the missing features, instead focusing on the gameplay, which he says feels “more organic and natural”.

Many fans, however, aren’t buying it. Type in “NHL” as a hashtag into Twitter and you might end up being prompted by #NHL15problems, a hashtag where many are filing their displeasure with the game.

On Reddit, there are several popular threads dedicated to the game, the most popular of which is called “NHL 15 for Next-Gen is a Scam”. A comment by user “SaintBlitzkreig” was typical of the majority of responses.

“The amount of content not available is a joke. Now, I was going to come to the defense of EA on this one, because when Madden first launched with their connected career mode, some of features we enjoy, weren’t available either, but they came in time. But seeing that in the past this series has had those various things, this is just not acceptable, and they should pull the product back. You have to wonder what the development team is saying to themselves as they keep cutting away at this game.”

Others followed.

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Many early reviews of the game aren’t positive. Canada.com’s Patrick O’Rourke praised the gameplay, but says it is “impossible to ignore the extensive list of features EA has dropped from the NHL franchise.”

“I genuinely feel sorry for NHL 15’s development team, particularly the game’s producer, Sean Ramjagsingh, who’s worked on the series since 2008,” continued O’Rourke. “After interviewing Ramjagsingh a number of times it’s easy to tell he’s genuinely passionate about the NHL franchise and wants his team’s games to be great.

This is just not acceptable, and they should pull the product back. You have to wonder what the development team is saying to themselves as they keep cutting away at this game.

But the reviewer says the elephant in the room is just too big to ignore.

“Still, this is no excuse for the amount of missing features in NHL 15, particularly since the series took last year off on the Xbox One and PS4 in preparation for the jump to next-gen systems,” concluded O’Rourke.

Electronic Arts NHL Series launched in 1991, and has since been featured on platforms ranging from Sega Genesis, Gameboy and Nintendo 64. The game has sold tens of millions of copies and has earned a minor place in pop-culture with reference in the movies “Swingers” and “Mall Rats”.

The previous version in the NHL franchise, NHL 14, was roundly applauded, earning a score of 80 on Metacritic, a site that aggregates reviews. The game was also awarded “Best Sports Game” in the Game Critics Awards “Best of E3 2013”.

NHL is an important franchise for EA. In its first week alone, NHL 13 sold 491,500 copies, comparing favourably to Madden NFL 13, which sold 1.65-million copies.

So will the donnybrook over NHL 15 translate into lower sales for EA? It seems likely, although permanent damage to the franchise seems unlikely, especially considering the game’s only serious competitor, NHL 2K, folded in 2011. A price cut, a focus on getting updates out quickly and a legitimate apology will have long-time fans of the NHL franchise forgetting EA’s current offenses by the time NHL 16 rolls around next fall. EA’s problems with NHL 15 will go down as a minor penalty, not a major infraction.

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About The Author /

Nick Waddell
Cantech Letter founder and editor Nick Waddell has lived in five Canadian provinces and is proud of his country's often overlooked contributions to the world of science and technology. Waddell takes a regular shift on the Canadian media circuit, making appearances on CTV, CBC and BNN, and contributing to publications such as Canadian Business and Business Insider.

Comment

  1. Bullshit, it’s a major and a game misconduct!!! EA started a fight that they don’t want to finish. The game is terrible and the cheesefest continues. 2014 is great. Way to drop the ball. Lofl

  2. Roundly applauded? 80 on Metacritic? You give NHL 14 way too much credit, it’s no secret that EA has the money to buy reviews

  3. EA will keep pouring money and resources in Fifa, Madden and Live because there is no competition with hockey games. They make the only one. Now if 2K Sports decides to get back in the game and can make a hockey game that is as interactive as NBA 2K15 then EA will be in BIG trouble. Until then they will continue to take advantage of the dedicated hockey fans that would rather play their excuse for a hockey game then not have a game to play at all.

  4. I’m disappointed in many aspects of this game for the Xbox One platform, not the least of which is the lack of a sound track! I’ve added quite a few songs to my iPhone from previous versions of he game. The Be a Pro is a huge disappointment too.

  5. One of the only reasons I finally went next-gen is for sports games, this above all. But I find myself playing the 360 version because the GM mode is so much better. The spit and polish doesn’t make up for the fun simulation aspects. How hard would it be to put in a fantasy draft? Am I missing something?

  6. totally agree. what shitty effort in interviewing. anyhow, this a-wipe sean is a joke of a video game producer. the game sucks. skating mechanics are totally flawed, a player will get stuck skating into the boards face first. how often does that happen in the nhl? the game is slow, sluggish, and you don’t have much control of your player. take it for what it is, but the best nhl games came to us in the 90’s and early 2000’s. all of which sean was not a part of.

  7. totally agree. what #$%$ effort in interviewing. anyhow, this a-wipe sean is a joke of a video game producer. the game sucks. skating mechanics are totally flawed, a player will get stuck skating into the boards face first. how often does that happen in the nhl? the game is slow, sluggish, and you don’t have much control of your player. take it for what it is, but the best nhl games came to us in the 90’s and early 2000’s. all of which sean was not a part of.

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