This isn't exactly news -- video game manufacturer EA Sports announced it was discontinuing its college hoops video game back in February -- but yours truly was reminded of this very sad fact by Rush The Court and Operation Sports today. That fact: In 2010-11, there will be no college hoops video game of any kind on the market. Indeed, the college hoops video game is no more. It has ceased to be.
The announcement, when it came, should have been no surprise to anyone; EA Sports and 2K's college hoops games had struggled with audiences and critics for years. Still, as Operation Sports' Jared Sexton notes, video game companies are devoting millions to developing fringe sports titles. Can't they give college hoops a little love?
As a layman gamer, there are few mysteries that confound me more than this situation. How is it that in a world where companies are developing fringe sports -- forgive me for saying it, but lacrosse, rugby and non-UFC MMA titles fit this description in many circles -- into video games, yet no one is stepping up to the plate to make a new and/or revived college basketball franchise?
As a dedicated (former) college hoops gamer, the kind who used to spend far too many college weekdays playing his roommates in old versions of EA's and 2K's games, I can attest: Both former college hoops games were pretty awful. College Hoops 2k8 was probably the best game of any, but it was far from a great basketball simulation. (NBA 2K is by far the better game, and how much do you really want to spend on basketball video games?)
EA Sports' NCAA Basketball/March Madness series was especially disappointing, because though the licensing and presentation were always great, the on-court product was a jumbled, glitchy mess. It was viscerally difficult to play. It actually made you angry. I'm pretty sure that's not the reaction video game designers are going for.
The question is sort of chicken-egg: Were EA Sports' games so bad because they knew no one played them? Or did no one play them because they were so bad? Given how popular college basketball is, you'd tend to lean toward the latter. Too bad we won't get to test the hypothesis again anytime soon.
More than anything, though, I just want a college hoops video game to play. Is that really so much to ask? (Sigh. Oh well. At least FIFA comes out soon, right?)