Summer is usually a time for relaxation in the sports world. Summer lacks any real dramatic sports news. At most, all you can hope for is some kind of off-the-field NFL scandal or hot topic -- and this year has not let us down, thank you Brett Favre and the Packers organization. Still if you love sports -- and since you are here you most likely do -- and play sports video games, you know that summer means a new beginning for the next season’s titles.
With the recent hype surrounding the resurgence of EA Sports and Tiburon’s football titles there was no doubt the forums of MaddenMania and Operation Sports would be popping come release time for NCAA Football 09. This is usually the case every release, but recent lackluster products have left people skeptical. Add in the fact that fans seem to hold the football monopolizing Electronic Arts to a higher standard when it comes to the hopes of what will be in a football game, and you never really know what to expect.
A wide array of emotions have engulfed forum members, leaving some looking for answers and pushing panic buttons already -- not even one week after release of the game.
Well if you happened to venture anywhere near the forums in the past few weeks you would have been in for quite the soap opera. A wide array of emotions have engulfed forum members, leaving some looking for answers and pushing panic buttons already -- not even one week after release of the game.
The onslaught started shortly before the public release, as it usually does. I have been around these boards for about eight releases now, and this part is like clockwork. The air is chock-full of angst as people pray to find a place that will sell a copy a few days early, making the F5 button work overtime on all the threads that may have the inside scoop on where your best bets are.
Then you have the lucky few that manage to land the game, and either get tarred and feathered or treated like heroes. In a rare change-up this year I did not see anyone attempt the old-lying-about-having-the-game-early trick. Sure there were plenty of skeptics that wanted photo, video and government certification providing proof that a person obtained the game, but not one really lied.
When someone does find the game the rest of us need to hear impressions from them of course -- even though this year we had several community leaders telling us all about the game from their experiences, not to mention a guy or two with a beta copy taking all the media you can handle. (Thank you Steve). Still it seems to be Average Joe that forum goers hold in highest regard when it comes to unbiased information.
Still when the forums got wind of some game issues via the few that had landed a copy of the retail game, all bets were off.
And the great part about all of this pre-release angst deals with something you learn in the first week of a college marketing class: bad news travels faster than good news. This is really what highlights this year’s NCAA Football 09 release.
Word was already out there that several issues, perhaps ranging from minor to game destroying depending on what's important to the gamer, were in this year's version of the game. This info had come from community days, and the month’s time we all were able to spend playing the early demo. Still when the forums got wind of some game issues via the few that had landed a copy of the retail game, all bets were off.
Over the next few days, and those leading up to the actual release day, if you visited the forums you may have heard the sky was falling, down was up, and Atlantis had risen. This tends to happen every year, but seemed particularly outrageous this release.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise though, reactions like these tend to happen when you mostly focus on the negatives.
Perhaps just another college learned lesson was rearing its head: the fact that people who dislike something are more vocal than people who actually care about it. Because if you were on the boards during all the impressions, or should I say complaints, then it became a little trying. Several die hards proclaimed the game was busted and that they wouldn’t be purchasing this year -- mind you this was still before the game was even officially released. Glitch after glitch began to surface, and as more and more people received their games, the question was how could this be going bad again after things looked so bright and promising?
It shouldn’t come as a surprise though, reactions like these tend to happen when you mostly focus on the negatives. And with the masses getting the product and reporting on just the bad functions, overlooking any possibility of fun or happiness with the game, the forums became a bit of a downer to read.
But then just as quickly, a strange silence fell over the boards on July 15. This of course would come as a result of release day. Like the eye of the hurricane, it was the middle of a crazy week and the boards were dormant for the most part in regards to new posts. Thousands of people were online, but only a few were even posting. Why? Because everyone was playing the game of course.
After the eye of the storm passed, the other problem became abundantly clear: the evil roster glitch. And if you want to see panic, then look no further than a bunch of guys that are without real-life named rosters during NCAA release week.
Something that is free and provided by ordinary people has become the biggest part of the game to many, and when it was found that the game would freeze, and created names would not work properly, well that is when things really hit the fan. The online community mourned as it appeared they would have to wait longer before they could play their beloved game, even though they technically had the prize in their hands.
But as the week went on and as the dust started to settle, people spent a little more time playing the game. Now reports of people actually having fun with the game are starting to pop up, and threads of gamers posting their best experiences and great games are prevalent. Work is being done to help each other overcome the problems, and slider and music customization help is a hot topic. This game may just have hope yet. Still it has been an eventful week or two in the online community with forums everywhere taking some twists and turns to say the least.
So with the cleanup after the storm taking place now, does normalcy peek out from behind the storm clouds? Only time will tell. But with big brother Madden’s release just a few short weeks away, I know we'll have to gear up to go through it all again, because after all, it is release season!