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NHL 19… A story of “updates”

First off I hope everyone who is reading this had a happy holiday season and maybe you’re reading this because you were recently given EA’s NHL 19 as a gift, so let’s just jump right into it. If you’re not new to BLT then maybe you read my first blog on NHL 19 which is here, if you didn’t read that blog I highly suggest you do before continuing to read this.

If you’ve read that first blog then welcome to ANOTHER NHL 19 “update”. Honestly I don’t know where to really start when it comes to my views or opinions on how EA is handling this year’s version of the game. On the one hand I’m happy they seem to be listening to the communities’ voices more than any other previous year, but at the same time they have done some rather strange things that they haven’t done in the past either.

The first thing I can think of is the way that EA has handled HUT packs compared to previous versions of the game. Take for example NHL 18 during the holiday season they had a “Gift of Giving” special pack in-game that was being sold for both in-game currency and premium currency where you pay for the pack with real money. Why is this a problem?

Well in NHL 18 the packs consisted of 40 items 20 of which were deemed to be rare and cost $30. Take this year’s pack (the same one) and you get 8 items, 2 are labeled as rare and it costs $25… Do you see what I’m talking about? It feels like EA has taken such a strong approach to a money grab this year compared to previous versions of the game and honestly I feel like this is so wrong.

EA has already been bashed in recent years with in-game purchase and loot boxes to the point where their company was a focal point of many countries deeming video game loot boxes gambling and illegal (ie. Belgium). Clearly it didn’t stop them as they are still continuing with loot boxes or similar ideas.

 

 

But even with that issue, the biggest for people within the “CHEL community” is the gameplay. In my first post I talked briefly about how at the time of the game’s initial release it felt so good, gameplay wise. It felt smooth and it felt real. It was rewarding and fun after many people within the same community bashed EA for NHL 18 and how bad that game was.

Fast forward to this holiday season and the EA Community Manager Tyler Horsfall, known as TheFlopFish on Twitter, announced that while EA and its devs are on holiday break the next 2 weeks they will revert NHL 19 back to its beta state due to the feedback they have received on the game. (Can be read here: https://forums.ea.com/en/nhl/discussion/237011/an-update-on-gameplay-feedback-action-plan/p1?new=1 )

This is where I start to have these mixed emotions. Why does EA decide after 4 months of “listening” to implement this change now, when quite literally the community complained about the changes after the first patch was released back in September? Furthermore, is this change going to stay or is EA just going to drop another patch on us after the New Year and just say “thanks!”?

 

 

Lastly, does EA even realize that this change could potentially impact players who are competing in multiple Esports tournaments that are being held in January and February? The NHL and EA Sports have both joined forces to help push a new venture doing Esports tourneys with their engine (which I support) but yet EA continues to make drastic changes to the game.

The thing is that the community doesn’t know what to really expect from EA anymore. They say one thing and then do another. They tell us the changes made to the game are already set in place and then they revert the game surprisingly back to the beta state. It’s frustrating as a consumer and player of their product.

So many people within the small CHEL community already have left or are waiting to hear feedback from the next instalment due to the way EA has handled their games over the past few years. The strangest thing about all of this is that it’s not just strictly a CHEL community problem. The player bases of FIFA and Madden have many of the same grievances as the CHEL players. They deal with the same feeling of a cash grab on loot boxes and pay to win scenarios as we do. The changes or even the lack thereof have made many players just up and quit purchasing the game’s newest instalment because they feel used.

In the end I just hope EA truly means it when they say “they are listening” to us as a whole, and I hope when they get the feedback from this little test run of the beta revert they are doing, they truly act upon it. I myself am most likely not spending my $60-100 on NHL 20 when that is released unless some massive changes come to the game and the way the company starts to manage it. As the old saying goes: hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

 

Actually! That might be what EA should start saying instead of “It’s In The Game”….