What EA Sports Games Could Learn From Each Other

by Matthew Kato on Aug 18, 2014 at 12:41 PM

EA Sports developers often talk about the benefit of being able to share technology from one EA team to another. Whether its the upcoming PGA Tour title using DICE's Frostbite 3 engine or Madden and FIFA both using the Ignite engine, there's an advantage of having shared resources. Naturally, this applies to features too. What ideas from one EA Sports title would benefit another?

Features like Ultimate Team thrive in different sports (it originated in EA Sports' UEFA Champions League 2006-07, but is everywhere now), and series like NCAA and Madden have historically had a close feature sets with each other. While we certainly wouldn't want to have every EA Sports title identical to each other and not all sports are the same, there are ways that each franchise could benefit from the others.

This is list is by no means exhaustive, so please feel free to add your suggestions in the comments section below.

Feature: Gamernet

Original Series: Tiger Woods PGA Tour

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 introduced Gamernet – a way you could take an accomplishment like a hole-in-one or a particularly crazy shot and make a challenge out of it that could be broadcast to friends and other players.

Given the golazos in FIFA and all the other remarkable moments in EA Sports' titles, this would use the gameplay video sharing capabilities of the systems and contextualize them in each game. Challenges would replicate situations such as the down/distance and time left on the clock, for instance, to see if you could replicate the posted feat for XP, unlockables, etc.

Multiple EA Sports game do this already with situations lifted from real-life games, but adding this user-generated component would be cool.

Feature: Live Broadcast

Original Series: MMA

MMA replicated the pay-per-view feel of mixed martial arts with its live broadcasts, which hyped up fights between two online contestants. Twitch feeds obviously play to this need to watch other people's games, and highlighting contests between users high on the leaderboards could help grow interest in the online components of EA Sports titles as well as prove entertaining and even instructional.

Feature: Skills Trainer & Game Prep

Original Series: Madden NFL

Skills Trainer's focus on football strategy and concepts could easily be extrapolated to other sports, teaching you everything from the basic controls to complex strategies. When paired with the Game Prep feature, it could also garner XP you could apply to your players. FIFA, for instance, could use this to talk about formation and substitution strategy and it could be used in NHL to teach concepts like cycling and trapping in the neutral zone.

I also like Madden 15's pre-play use of the right analog stick to highlight mismatches between players like wide receivers and cornerbacks. This could be put to great use as a way during halftime or between quarters or periods to see where you could exploit your opponent or shore up your own weaknesses.

Feature: Create-a-Play

Original Series: Madden NFL

Madden had a create-a-play feature in the past, and it was more recently a highlight of NHL starting with the 08 iteration. Frankly, we're surprised this feature hasn't been pervasive in multiple EA Sports titles. Interestingly, FIFA competitor Pro Evolution Soccer had a create-a-play-esque feature last year.

Features: Pro Clubs & Football Club

Original Series: FIFA

Co-op play is a huge part of gaming, and FIFA's Pro Clubs format is a great way to experience this kind of gameplay. Using a Seasons promotion/relegation format with rankings and matchmaking, it's a good structure and a fun way to play with your friends. Madden had a barebones three-on-three online team play, but it's unknown if it's returning for Madden 15.

FIFA's Football Club, which gives you XP and levels for playing time that you can spend on rewards throughout all of the modes, would also be a great fit for other games. In the past Madden had the Gridiron Club, but FIFA's system is more thorough, offering historic uniforms, attribute upgrades for your Pro Club/Be A Pro character, and even celebrations.

Feature: Dynasty Wire

Original Series: NCAA

NCAA used your computer browser to its fullest, including the ability to create your online dynasty's own page complete with highlight clips, and make players and schools from your desk when you weren't in front of your TV playing the game itself. In fact, you could pretty much control your whole dynasty from a browser – useful for you and your friends (albeit not conducive to workplace efficiency). FIFA has its Ultimate Team browser and mobile app (when they are working properly), but an extension of powers is natural. Being able to trade players, rework your roster, and even sim games could be useful during meetings or waiting for the bus, maximizing your TV time to playing the actual game.

Feature: Story-Based Modes

Original Series: Fight Night

A story-based mode has been tried in the past in sports games to mixed results, like in Sony's first-party NBA title The Life. However, if done right (and that's a big if) it would be awesome. Drama on and off the field infuses all sports and is what makes them so attractive to us, and tapping into something more than wins and losses would take sports games to a whole new level. Titles like Madden and FIFA present headlines during the season and let you participate in interviews, but offering options like off-the-field incidents, constructing a media profile, and having your personality more integrating into what happens with your team could be cool.

Multiple EA Sports titles have Be A Pro modes with various options, and NHL 14 tried its hand unsatisfactorily with Live the Life mode, but a true story-based mode would have to go beyond even the amenities I mentioned above with tons of cutscenes, great voice acting, and creating a true stake in your player's story. It wouldn't be easy, but it could be worth it.