As I sat around watching college football and basketball over the Thanksgiving week, it made me realize how much I miss playing the NCAA football and NCAA basketball video games. Now, my days of spending numerous hours on video games are over but like many passionate video gamers these two games provided years of enjoyment.
It’s been only two years since EA Sports’ last NCAA Football game and surprisingly five years since their last NCAA Basketball game. The NCAA Football series was one of the more popular series for EA Sports, putting out ten editions over multiple consoles and improving game play each year to rival with the NFL Madden series. Meanwhile the NCAA Basketball series (previously known as NCAA March Madness) has dated back since 1998, mostly on the Playstation formats.
Both series offered a great alternative to their professional counterparts and were very entertaining to play, offering plenty of features. With the college athletics scene changing so much over the last decade, new editions of NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball could produce some wonderful gaming.
As many of you are likely aware, NCAA and EA Sports had to discontinue their partnership due to former UCLA basketball player, Ed O’Bannon’s lawsuit towards the EA Sports regarding player likeness and the video game company’s profiting off of student-athletes. If the two sides could ever come to terms to reignite the NCAA football and basketball series, great things could come out of them.
One of my favorite parts about previous NCAA Basketball games was the ability to play at neutral sites. This was mostly done in the Exhibition Mode but could easily be expanded to a dynasty/season mode. Being able to schedule regular season games at a neutral site would be a tremendous feature. The last few versions of the series included the Maui Invitational Tournament as the one and only preseason tournament teams could play in. With the evolution of preseason tournaments and classics, a new NCAA basketball game could feature multiple elite preseason tournaments/classics such as the Champions Classic, Preseason NIT tournament, Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, Puerto Rico tip-off tournament, among many others.
In my opinion, one of the most underrated features about the last version of the series (NCAA Basketball 2010) was the broadcasting presentations of both ESPN and CBS which included different broadcasting teams for each network. I would definitely want this feature of the game to stay! Speaking of broadcasting, how about a Selection Show feature for the NCAA tournament in the dynasty/season mode? How awesome would that be!
Recruiting would also need to be improved with the current state of “one-and-dones” in the college basketball. Recruits could have a “one-and-done” label with them would be influence a school’s willingness to sign the recruit. Recruits reclassifying has also played a significant part of the recruiting process in the college basketball game could also be considered to add to the game.
One major aspect the NCAA basketball series never saw was the ability to realign conferences (which was done in the NCAA Football series since 2012). Included with this was the ability to assign the conference championship venue would be a great feature for the NCAA basketball series as conference tournaments tend to rotate sites on a yearly basis.
As for the NCAA Football series…Imagine a new NCAA Football game with the new College Football Playoff system. The dynasty mode would challenger gamers to create a schedule worthy enough to be considered by the computerized playoff committee for the playoff. Ideally, there would be weekly playoff ratings show feature that would be available with the most recent playoff rankings for your season, showing users where their team stands on a weekly basis, starting after week 10.
Just like the college basketball, neutral site games have played a significant part in college football. For a new NCAA Football game, users should be able to upload NFL stadiums from the Madden series to import for the College Football Playoff National Championship Game site, which they would be able to select season by season. More Kickoff Classic games could also be added to the game and would involve a randomized invite to schools in order to play in them (similar to the preseason tournaments for NCAA Basketball series). Ultimately, having a team play in a neutral site or Kickoff Classic game would significantly improve a team’s season and chances at a College Football Playoff Championship.
One aspect that was never adopted was the multiple broadcasting presentation that NCAA Basketball 10 had. This could be another great detail for the NCAA Football series as ESPN, FOX Sports and CBS broadcast a most of college football games.
As mentioned for the NCAA basketball series, the recruiting process would need to be updated to the current times. College football recruiting has become such a significant part of a team’s success that there are aspects of the recruiting process that could be updated. Having a National Signing Day where you (as the school’s coach) must watch a recruit announcement to find out if they will be signing with your school would give the game a realistic feel to it.
Besides the obvious improvement of graphics on an annual basis, these extra features would give each game the extra reasons for gamers to purchase new editions of each game and help make the NCAA games so much better than their professional counterparts. I enjoy playing the NCAA games over the pro games as there is so much more to do with the game and many more teams to play with. I would definitely make time for games again if the NCAA Football and Basketball series were to return in the near future.