The year of “Connection”.. but who is getting it right?
The 2013 EA SPORTS titles are really coming heavy with the online perpetual type game modes. But they are doing things in uniquely different ways. The struggle seems to lie between POV game modes like Clubs and SuperStar versus perpetual online league modes like Online Franchise and Manager Mode. Let’s take a look at what each title is offering and the potential pro’s and con’s from and online gamer perspective.
FIFA 13 has focused heavily on fleshing out their POV online mode called FIFA Clubs. In this mode you play as a single player on the pitch for an assigned organization. You literally are you… with gameface implementation and all. This mode is an ultra simulation style mode where team work and cooperation are required to be successful.
The game is also really heavy into associating your FIFA accomplishments and other game related features to your favorite real life futbol team. Competing virtually for your club, you can represent them in almost any game mode in FIFA 13. This is certainly a unique way of showing your fan loyalty to your team.
The main upgrades this year have been targeted and measuring yourself versus you Club mates and your friends list in a meaningful way. It also seems like they may be adding in some promotion/relegation structure as they did with the Season Online feature. This mode “Live Seasons” is the FIFA teams only answer for a perpetual online manager type mode. But it’s nothing like that and though it may be popular, it’s targeted directly at the lobby type “play now” gamer.
They have made a ton of upgrades to Manager Mode this year and it will be a fun time OFFLINE. It’s amazing to me that in 2013 you would build any mode targeted solely at offline play. The FIFA team has done great things the last few years, but to seemingly ignore this aspect of the online portion of your game leave’s me scratching my head.
Madden 13 is all about Connected Career Mode this year. The RPG style franchise mode was built for online play. 32 online users can get together in one simulated league and grind it out season after season. This year the Madden team has implemented a much more user driven experience from a team building aspect. Experience points, or XP, will drive everything you do in the game. From improving players to upgrading your schemes, you will use XP in a kind of choose your own adventure way to guide your franchise.
The game mode also incorporates the POV mode previously known as “Superstar”. So in one online CCM you can have some players choose to play as a player and some players to choose the traditional coach role controlling the whole team. The CCM will handle all aspects of the franchise, salary cap, trades, draft, college player scouting… everything that you would naturally expect to be there is, and probably a bit more.
Madden has also heavily embraced story lines and utilizing social media. Full twitter integration on two levels that incorporates real world media personalities is pretty cool. Then having the ability to pipe that out to a real world league twitter feed that you can push to your mobile device is genius.
But we have to talk about the some of the very loud criticisms about cutting out legacy features to accomodate this mode. Old Franchise mode, Roster editing, NCAA draft class importing and fantasy drafts all got left on the cutting room floor in ’13 to the dismay of many offline and online gamers. The seemingly strict nature of CCM has left many wondering if the new direction of Madden is for them.
And now NHL 13 comes along touting it’s GM Connected Mode. Like Madden it allows for a full league of online user controlled teams battling it out over 25 perpetual seasons if they make it that far. Player transactions, salary cap, draft.. everything is there to bring the tradition offline franchise experience to the internet.
But NHL has taken it one step further.. integrating their POV be a player mode in with this new GM Connected mode. That right, online team play inside of the GM connected mode. That means that up to 750 players could be grinding away inside one online league. It’s a staggering accomplishment if you think about it and could be the future of competitive online sports gaming modes.
Just think, this could be the start of POV leagues where you can mimic playing in the NHL as a player or maybe even as a GM. Trading and acquiring real human talent and building a team of guys that are good and you like to play with. This is the mode we have all dreamed about. Kind of like the finish line for online game modes if you ask me.
NHL has also managed to keep the old offline franchise game mode available as a legacy feature and seems to be trying to provide flexibility to their customers.
So there you have 1 company and 3 titles that have attacked online sports gaming in different ways this year. Let me know… who do you think is getting it right in 2013?