There are three things that got me into hockey in the mid-90s. The first was the on-ice brilliance of Mario Lemieux (and also, to a great extent, Jaromir Jagr). Like a bunch of other snot-nosed kids, the artistically devoid but nostalgically rich “Mighty Ducks” movies also drew me into the sport. The last piece of the puzzle, though, were those spectacular EA NHL video games (immortalized by Vince Vaughn in “Swingers”).
Since moving to the “next generation” of video game consoles, the EA Sports series finally woke up and got its digital act together again. Their games do a lot to introduce (or re-introduce) casual fans to the sport and one of the game’s many features is that they’re packed with different leagues from the AHL to European elite leagues.
It was recently announced that the Canadian Hockey League will be featured in the next iteration in the series, NHL ’11. That league’s greatest competition for talent and exposure is NCAA Hockey – and word is – they’re also trying to get into the action, too. Getting NCAA teams into the world’s most popular video game title would be a nice (if subtle) way of promoting the American college game, but there could be some potential roadblocks. Video game blog Kotaku shares why that would be a challenge.
It must be noted that a video game using an American university’s symbols or likenesses in a video game must go through the Collegiate Licensing Clearinghouse, and such deals are not cheap. While EA Sports already has a relationship with that authority through its NCAA Football franchise, the defunct NCAA Basketball and MVP College Baseball show the challenges of making a collegiate sport other than football sustainable.
That said, both of those titles were standalone; presumably Kelly means NCAA teams would, like the FIFA series, be included in the array of professional, amateur and world teams offered by NHL 11, which just struck an agreement with the major-junior Canadian Hockey League.
If bigger NCAA sports struggle to be profitable in polygonal form, then NCAA hockey would definitely not make sense as a stand-alone title. There’s one other big beef to remember, too. I won’t bore you with the legal details that I only half-understand, but NCAA players’ names cannot appear in games. So, back when Jonathan Toews was rocking it for the North Dakota Fighting Sioux, he would have been known as “Center #19” or some goofy pseudonym.
Really, it could be a great marketing opportunity for NCAA hockey, but it probably wouldn’t be as enticing as having real player names. Still, if the deal gets done, it’s better than nothing … right?
(Besides, you can’t tell me it wouldn’t be fun to beat up on your friends with a college hockey team while they’re using Team Canada. It’s all about humiliating your buddies, after all.)
(H/T to Arthur from Anaheim Calling.)