Thursday, December 6, 2012

Credit Where Credit is Due: EA Sports

Whenever you think about innovation in the realm of video games, what companies do you think about?  Bioware?  Valve?  Obsidian?

Any excuse I can find.

What if I told you EA has snuck in something really clever, right under your noses?  That's why I'm here to give this 'game-churning, rehashing, lazy-asses' some credit.

EA Sports, Get in my game.

Now, I know the core demographic for EA Sports titles aren't necessarily the core demographic of this blog.  Apart from myself, I don't know of many other people (personally) who would spend money on a sports game.  

So what's the point of this you ask?  Well, over the past few years, EA Sports has incorporated a game mode that's utterly fantastic.  It's called "Ultimate Team", and it plays out like a Sports based Trading Card Game.

Just let that sink in.

Madden, and NHL games, are bringing the style of TCG's to the mainstream.  

The modes work like this, it plays like a franchise mode, where you try to win several championships with random players.  When you start, you're given a few random booster packs filled with mostly randomly generated junk players, a few mid-leveled real-life players, and maybe, a top tier player in that game.  In TCG terminology, these are your Commons, Uncommons, and Rare's.  From here, you can use each player for a set amount of games.  Plus you have to keep track of their salary.

So now you have resource management and a randomly generated 'deck' of players.  

As you play, you earn cash that you can use to buy booster packs.  They range from the cheap ones, with a slim chance of good cards, to elite leveled packs that require tons of cash.  

This mode can be played single player, or in an online league with friends or strangers.  You can picture this as a friendly game with your friends, or treat it like a tournament at your local gaming store.

"Suck on that, Steve from Accounting" 

There is another mode in Madden '13 that expands on this concept.  If you've ever partaken in a card tournament, these two words will sound very familiar.

"Booster Draft".

For those who don't know, a booster draft is where each person opens a pack of cards.  Whoever opened the pack, gets first pick.  After they choose a card, they pass the pack to the next person, and so it continues til no cards are left.  A new pack is opened for each player.

This mode in Madden is a head-to-head style mode (from what I gleaned from an article), where you each get to open a pack in alternating order.  Then the rest of the players to to the shared pool, and it becomes a draft style to build your team.

To me, these ideas are enormous.  They bring the strategy of making a deck to sports games, which is an idea I can fully support.

I know people like to hate on EA and sports games, but I feel that EA Sports has hit a rock solid concept here.  It's so popular that 2K has borrowed the idea for NBA 2K13.  

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a hockey team to draft.  

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