NCAA Football 12 Prompts Outlets to Question Need for Buying Games Day One

Posted August 1st, 2011 at 9:45 am

NCAA 12 released to generally positive reviews Рthough the consensus via Metacritic is down a significant four points vs NCAA 11 Рand I laid out several issues with the game in my review and the closer analysis on features. Despite that EA Sports has yet to address the problems which have become the story since release and left consumers largely out in the cold as they work on patch behind the scenes. 

Operation Sports first posted an editorial that stated there now is really no reason to buy sports games on day one, and Kotaku has followed up on that by essentially arguing the very same thing. This represents some huge pressure being placed on EA Sports for their latest offering and is a clear warning shot regarding future titles. Outlets are growing frustrated with the current state of how sports titles are being handled at and following release.

The number of issues discovered post-release or in areas of the game reviewers either don’t bother looking into can’t in a pre-release environment has resulted in a lot of discussion. Online Dynasty as the most prominent online related example doesn’t work with Teambuilder squads, doesn’t carry injuries over from week to week, and is unable to advance in certain circumstances. The highly touted ‘Custom Playbooks’ are busted and there is a bug in edited rosters that flips player tendencies. Widespread reports of freezing have also led to some backlash. These are just the bigger problems and many others are present that are either more minor in nature or more sparingly experienced.

I tend to disagree with the argument that games shouldn’t be purchased on day one however. For the most part consumers will get enjoyment out of a game even with issues present. With pre-order deals, the “Online Pass”, and especially the promotional credits being offered by outlets like Amazon (which essentially took NCAA 12 to $40) there is little to no incentive to wait on purchasing a game that is highly desired.

What is being presented as the alternative is to wait around for deeper analysis and/or patches to arrive. The cost of that however is missing out on the enjoyment that could be had in those days and weeks in question which are often the most anticipated and fun-filled.

If it meant saving money that would potentially be a reasonable trade-off. But again not only is buying a used game less attractive due to the “Online Pass” but there is the exclusive pre-order incentives that would be missed out on and and promo credits to consider. In the case of NCAA 12 the game probably won’t be able to be had used or new for a total price under $40 until November. Most would have interest directed towards other titles by that time.

Of course anyone on the fence whether that be due to budgetary concerns or questioning the value to themselves would have more reason to wait and see. Many consumers – the ones who keep companies like EA Sports and 2K Sports afloat – plan to purchase these high profile titles one way or the other. For those people waiting around is a difficult thing to suggest in the current market but rather as always it is up to the individual to determine what is important to them.

Hopefully articles like those linked to earlier and companies being held accountable as always on this site will help to put consumers in more of a power position. Reviews have typically let EA/2K/SCEA/THQ slide by on issues and most outlets choose not to follow-up on whether the companies delivered on their promises or are being responsive to consumer needs. NCAA Football 12 however may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back in this regard and the general acceptance of each product’s flawed nature from year-to-year may be coming to an end.