Where Does NCAA Football Go From Here?

Posted August 24th, 2009 at 7:03 am


The NCAA Football series has seen its ups and downs over the last few years. Still one of the most fully featured sports games ever, there is definitely reason for gamers to be frustrated. NCAA Football 10 lacked emotion, presentation, and ultimately offered stale gameplay.

A series of gaffes including the issue that found the rosters in disarray plagued the game prior to release. The first patch for the game did nothing to actually improve the overall experience being offered other than fixing aspects of the game that were inexplicably broken. The second patch, which apparently will be rather extensive, has still not been detailed. At this point it is probably too late for it to really change the perception of this year’s offering.

Teambuilder turned out to be a big success and certainly it has been enjoyable creating teams and seeing them materialize for use in the game. Despite that, Teambuilder really isn’t about NCAA Football. It could be used in any game, it could even be utilized on its own to create a game. As much as I liked it I’m not sure how much credit NCAA should actually receive for having it.

Road to Glory did bring in an intriguing element with the video content tracking events in the player’s career. However the mode formerly known as Campus Legend still had on-the-field issues that have been carrying over since it was introduced. Questionable play calling, poor practice mode for gaining attribute points, and an obvious slant towards high-profile positions especially.

Then you have Season Showdown. Alright, I can’t hate on this too much because I understand what they were trying to do with it. But really, resources were put into this and in the end it has not captured anyone’s imagination. The college football season hasn’t even started yet and I can’t imagine anyone getting hooked on Season Showdown especially now. Certainly it is reasonable to question why so much was put into this “feature” as opposed to working on something else that could have been of more benefit to more people.

Rosters are going to be an interesting topic going forward. As I opined a while back it almost seems as though the legal issues has EA working towards more generic rosters that would then leave the responsibility to the community to correct. How the lawsuits play out will have a huge affect on the game going forward.

Online Dynasty continues to be a big coup for NCAA Football, however as seen this year it can’t hold the game up on its own. It did for 09, I played that game more than any other this generation. The pure fun allowed me to overlook the game’s flaws. That feeling just didn’t carry over to 10 though.

Reviews for NCAA Football 10 actually have the exact same Metacritic average as 09, this even despite a suspicious “world exclusive” review from TeamXbox that inexplicably gave it a 9.3 score. That shows that not enough was done even in the eyes of reviewers. The consensus definitely is that nothing drastic was done to the game other than the addition of Teambuilder and the gameplay essentially tweaked. Sales are down for the first time this generation. The only other yearly sports title that has been dropping is the MLB 2K series. EA can not be pleased to be in company with that franchise.

Over at ncaaStrategies they’ve worked up an NCAA Basketball style tournament polling for wishlist items. This is a great initiative and I’d encourage anyone interested in providing input on what NCAA Football should be adding to check it out.  Click here to head there and take part in the voting.

The biggest problem for NCAA Football ironically is Madden. This year Madden 10 arrived and essentially blew NCAA out of the water. The game has advanced so much in a single year that it naturally makes you wonder why NCAA has not made, or even attempted, to do the same.

Basically that is what NCAA Football 11 has to go for. It desperately needs a fresh feel. There needs to be that emotional connection to the game that is completely missing right now. Atmosphere and presentation have to be upgraded and adding cheerleaders and bands that everyone skips through does not qualify. Finally the gameplay absolutely has to feel new. Madden was able to do all this in one year. No more excuses for NCAA Football not to do the same.