College hoops fans have always been sort of the unwanted step-children of the video game world. Fantastic franchises like Madden Football and NBA2K keep pro sports fans happy year-in and year out, and college football fans are well-served as well. But college basketball has never had a truly top-notch franchise, and no company has produced a game for college basketball fans since Electronic Arts made NCAA Basketball 10 in 2009.
A reporter from KXTV asked EA designers about their future plans for college hoops, and they were cagey at best.
Ben Haumiller, the series producer for EA Sports’ NCAA Football franchise, sees a market for it, though he can’t comment definitively on the subject.
“We’re in the college football business – we’ve been in the college basketball business in the past – who knows,” he commented. “I mean, at this point, though, it’s kind of hard to say.”
Heck, that could be the actual motto of the NCAA itself eleven months out of the year. College football drives the bus, as we all know. As a fan of the game, however, I have to say I’ve never really loved any college hoops game I’ve played. Everything from recruiting to gameplay – not to mention the inability to really emulate the atmosphere of the games – fell short, in my opinion.
Emulating and likeness are big issues in the college hoops world right now, too. With Ed O’Bannon’s case growing more teeth by the week, I wouldn’t blame anyone for shying away from adding to their potential liability if O’Bannon is successful in gaining retroactive compensation for athlete likenesses used for profit.
In all honesty, I’ve only ever wanted an NCAA video game to use as a kind of methadone to calm the shakes when real hoops are on hiatus. During the season, there’s nothing like the real thing. If the games come back, hopefully they’ll be higher quality. If not, there’s always the superior gameplay and actual, compensated use of real names and faces of the NBA franchises.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.