EA Sports moving to server-based online play?

Posted March 13th, 2008 at 3:23 pm


As has been covered here thoroughly, EA Sports (and in actuality all sports game publishers) have struggled to meet even the most basic of expectations with online play. Recent titles out of EA Canada such as NHL, FIFA, and NBA Live 08 have shown some great improvements in both performance and options/modes. To date though the Tiburon titles (Nascar, NCAA Football, Madden) have been extremely disappointing in both areas when evaluating their online play.

Lets go ahead and discount the lack of options and modes right now. Those don’t mean all that much anyway when lag and disconnects are so prevalent. Has EA gotten the message and worked to at the very least improve the online performance of their titles coming up? It sounds like they may have.

Last year Nascar 08 touted 12 player online races. It was actually first announced to be 16 but was later trimmed to 12. However from all accounts the mode was still beyond unplayable even with the lower maximum.

In a preview of Nascar 09 at Gamespot the mention was made of sever-based online rather than peer-to-peer. That would in theory reduce instances of lag and increase stability.

There still won’t be any online leagues or teams, but 09’s 12-player online play should benefit from the addition of matchmaking servers. This will help take some of the load off of the player hosting the game and hopefully result in smoother racing.

Whether they will go the same route with the titles that follow Nascar is unknown, but at the very least it is encouraging to see that they’ve acknowledged the problem and are working on a solution with Nascar. Surely they realize that it’s even more important for their bigger franchises to improve online.

The problem until now is that reviewers have not held these companies accountable for their online outputs. And until the bottom line is affected by reviews lowering their metacritic scores based on poor online play it unfortunately isn’t going to be an area of central focus for the companies.

Hopefully EA decides to be proactive in this area and provide a truly enriching and satisfying online experience coming up. It looks like Nascar 09 could potentially end up being a gauge of what to expect out of NCAA and Madden 09.