The Future of College Basketball Gaming

Posted February 16th, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Within a three year span no sport has taken a hit in the sports gaming world as severely as basketball. There used to be five total titles with three NBA games and two NCAA games. Now there are two NBA titles (with one possibly on its last legs) and none for college. Why has this happened specifically to the NCAA offerings and what is the current outlook on the eventual future of college basketball gaming?

College Hoops from 2K Sports dropped out because the market couldn’t support two games. When I analyzed the situation, just two weeks before that was announced, it was clear that was the case. The conventional thinking at the time was March Madness, which became NCAA Basketball, would then be able to pick up sales that had been split between the two titles. That never happened.

So now NCAA Basketball is canceled and there will be no college basketball games for the foreseeable future. Low sales, with little potential for growth, and the impact of the lawsuits that currently are being faced are the main reasons for this. Despite EA having a quasi-exclusive, as they did not buy an exclusive license just no one else has been willing to pay what the CLC has asked for, they were unable to increase sales enough to justify the costs involved with making and distributing the game.

College basketball games have never sold well. They’ve always been viewed as a secondary title and one that had several disadvantages. The games would release just over a month after the NBA games and during a time when most sports fans couldn’t care less about college basketball. For most it just doesn’t get interesting until tournament time. Add to that how it was the last sports game released during the year. It would follow up a couple months packed full of sports titles and as such it was difficult to expect gamers to spend yet another $60 on something they may have felt indifference towards.

Interestingly the release date never seemed to make much of a difference. At one point EA tried pushing March Madness into January and the sales really didn’t change at all. That was during a time where the competition was still there and released in the normal November period. Both titles sold comparably to the surrounding years.

Many would argue that 2K Sports and EA Sports can only blame themselves for the failure of their franchises. The companies cut corners borrowing a lot from the NBA games, didn’t offer much in the way of innovation (no Online Dynasty as an example), and never marketed them strongly. NBA Live has also probably been a drag on NCAA’s potential the last few years. Had it been the other way around, with College Hoops 2K being the only college offering, it probably would have performed better.

However it all comes down to there being so little potential to increase sales regardless of what they did. There was just no plausible scenario where the games would have become big sellers. So the companies decided to invest in their respective NBA franchises instead.

Something that should not be overlooked are the lawsuits that the NCAA (and EA in one case) is currently facing regarding player representations in the video games. There is merit to the claims which threaten the legitimacy of future collegiate gaming. Already we’ve seen a move towards more generic and/or inaccurate rosters. What this means is a college basketball game with already limited appeal would be even worse off if the rosters had no relation to the real life teams.

Could another company jump in and make a college basketball game? It is possible but unlikely at this time given the market conditions and other issues that would be faced. There is little demand for a game right now and the rosters would probably have to be generic, whether it be to avoid litigation or as a result of the finding in the future. The most likely scenario might be a downloadble offering on XBL/PSN that would be tournament based. There is some potential there but it would not be up to the level of quality or depth that a typical retail offering would provide.

  • Why not put a NCAA mode in the NBA games?

  • Philly

    What scares me is that these lawsuits against NCAA football could end up creating the same thing for that franchise. It's lame to play as a team when there's no accuracy to rosters.

  • College phan

    Ed o'bannon should not have been a bust in the nba or else he wouldnt need money

  • Mitch8x21x07

    See I think they should have 2ksports try and make the better NCAA basketball game. They have improved tremendously with the NBA titles, putting live to a horrible rating. NBA 2k games have taken over the NBA gaming on the consoles. They should try and make a new and improved college basketball game with names of players so that people buy them. People don't like buying a game with there favorite players without names. I didn't like being North Carolina last year and having Hansbrough's name be PF #50, it's just annoying. They need to give it a try and give the game some potential.

  • Jamin

    It's as a going to the ea locker to download names. It's not that hard, unless you don't have internet access.

  • Jamin

    It's as easy a going to the ea locker to download names. It's not that hard, unless you don't have internet access.

  • While I haven't done so yet. I will be buying NCAA Basketball 2010 so that I can have at least have a decent somewhat current college hoops game for the future.

  • Releasing in November, which is Call of Duty time, doesn't help. Everyone's either already into the middle of their seasons or enjoying online play of other sports games, Madden/NBA/NHL/FIFA. I'd be interested to see how NCAA Football would do if it were released after other sports, especially Madden. I usually get it as a gear up for Madden, and it's a great game, but I don't play much after Madden's released. Also, NCAA sports popularity is spotty. The NY area where I live, is not really a college football place. Certain areas with no major conferences probably don't follow a sport as much. I believe MVP NCAA Baseball failed for that reason. Everyone loved the MVP MLB Series, most still do. But no one bought MVP NCAA.

  • Jamin

    But that's when college basketball is.

  • HAL 9100

    2K would probably get an easy $30-40 from me every year if they just put the gameplay adjustments from NBA 2K, put in the new uniforms, and updated the rosters to College Hoops each year. They could just leave everything else the same. Considering that this would only be 2 CH specific additions each year, I don't see how that couldn't be profitable for them.

  • gomagic

    no way theres enough room on the disc. plus the NBA would tell the game company to F-off as they wouldnt share their title with the NCAA.

  • gomagic

    people always complained that the games used to be released too late also. cant win either way.

  • okafor43

    Its a shame there is no college basketball game, after 2k quit making them i thought I wouldnt buy any more games then I kept buying March Madness or whatever it is EA calls it and that has been a terrible joke. I think the lack of comments on the forum shows what people really think about college basketball game

  • okafor43

    True. Peopl complained about lack of accurate rosters in the game but I do think as long as they keep up of the Roster sharing they shouldnt have a problem.

  • Diceman

    There is probably plenty of room on a bluray…. especially since it would be just essentially adding different jerseys…

    NBA Live has the ability to play with the FIBA teams….. same game different ball, a few different rules… there is no reason EA couldn't add in college teams

    Obviously the biggest question would be authentic stadiums, and obviously you couldn't give the gameplay a “different” more collegiate feel, but you could throw in a few chants, some coaches, and whatnot

    I don't see why the NBA would care….basketball is basketball… its not like they would be sharing a disc with Madden

  • ncaa

    how about lower the price..

  • sroeland

    Honestly, save your money and buy College Hoops 2K8 used for $10. I received NCAA Basketball 10 for Christmas and have already traded it in. EA is not supporting the game post-release and will be releasing no patches. This is a problem because there are widespread freezing issues. I could not complete a game anymore thanks to freezing right after the final buzzer sounded. Very frustrating.

    People are still updating rosters for 2K8, so the teams and players will be up-to-date. CH 2K8 is your best option in my opinion…

  • bigcdiddy16

    On a semi related/unrelated question, Pasta is there anyway you can check and see if the EA servers for the EA locker-room for College B-ball is down for good? I know they have been down the past couple of days and would really like to know if that is a permanent thing. Thanks in advance.

  • The downloadable offering is probably best, as college hoops only really gets exciting during the tournament time. Make it a tourney based mode. Or how about making it as a downloadable title, with ESPN/CBS games of the weeks only. I guarantee come this time next year, people will be complaining and begging for a NCAA bball title…

  • T. DALEY

    To be quite honest I am surprised college football hasn't seen this fate yet. Perhaps college football is a bigger deal than college basketball. I for one see no need to own two basketball games or any two games of the same sport. Regardless if it is college or pro its still the same game. I suspect more people care about pro basketball more than college where as the split is more even between pro football than college. Either way there is no reason to have more than one sports game of a particular sport. I would rather have the pro game than the college game.

  • phenom

    Hate to disagree.. but Choops 2k8 is imo the best digital representation of basketball ever created.. it bests any NBA or College game before and after it. If 2k decided to slap glitzy graphics, and and NBA players on it, the game in all likelihood wouldve sold millions.
    We need College basketball games, just like we need Reeboks, and Adidas.. Linux and Google Chromes.. You cant gain marketshare, if there is no product in that Market.

  • Quan

    I still have my College Hoops 2K5. I love that game. It's a true classic.

  • brock lesnar


  • jayx33

    This would be bullshit…I think it's so dumb how 2K isn't making a college game…There game play is so much better then stupid NCAA Basketball from EA…I bought NCAA Basketball 2010 and all the game has to offer is a unbelieveable presentation…Who cares really about the presentation i mean yea it's cool but when your playing the game and 1) the control suck because they're not 2k control lol 2) There's no real way to play any defense on that game and the animations for dribbling are so unrealistic and 3) the players don't really have there own signature shots and they look nothing like the player…Like Scottie Reynolds for Villanova is completly black and looks retarded. I mean EA stop making any type of basketball game cause obviosly you can't and your games suck…I hope that 2k ends up making a College Basketball game with and online dynasty or something like that would be awesome.

  • UH HUH

    It's simple too many teams and ridiculously inaccurate rosters

  • alex22406

    They need to remake NCAA basketball and allow rosters to be put on NBA live so you can draft the Ncaa players you played with in Dynasty mode like Ncaa football and madden do. I dont see why they got rid of the feautre of transfering players from game to game.

  • alex22406

    They need to remake NCAA basketball and allow rosters to be put on NBA live so you can draft the Ncaa players you played with in Dynasty mode like Ncaa football and madden do. I dont see why they got rid of the feautre of transfering players from game to game.

  • jeannedove

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  • jeannedove

    Since 2002 “” has aimed to make sports more enjoyable. Whether you just want to know the odds or want to get our analysis of the game, we want to be your first source on the internet.

    We would really appreciate if you can give your suggestions/feedback/reviews for improvement.

    Thanks and Cheers!

  • matt

    this really sux, 2k made great college games, ea sux at making basketball games period, jus stop trying, please bring back the 2k college hoops series, please

  • david

    that sucks balls,i loved college hoops 2k8.i dont blame 2ksports i do blame ea they always buy out the god damn rights to produce a game so other devlopers cant make an acturate game.then in my own personal opinon ea makes it so there is no competition then they can put out a half assed game that lacks depth and features.

  • PBS x SWiSH

    u r exactly right. even though u cant play online with the real up to date rosters, its nice to have when you have a game like ncaa basketball 10 that is not the best. college hoops has way more realism and comentators are solid.

  • mas

    2k sports please somehow get the rights to make a ncca basketball game

  • Saiyankhaill13

    i can see a ncaa mode as good dlc

  • Kareemhclyburnva

    no one brought ncaa 09 because it stinks not because college basketball isn’t popular i’m playing college hoops 2k8 still and I have purchased at least 3 different copies over the last couple of years

  • Kareemhclyburnva

    I’m with facebook-9803731 an NCAA game mode would be tight and would pay out to the first developer to do it but it will be just as dumb if we dont fix the nba games before hand because the nba games aren’t so hot either