With the announcement that College Football is returning to the EA Sports world, huge excitement ensued.
The NCAA Football series was much loved, and fans have been begging for it to come back. Well, their wishes have been granted.
But with this, comes nervousness.
Something that is so fondly remembered can be difficult to update and bring back after an absence.
Here's why EA Sports need to be really careful, and why it needs to be very different from its sibling franchise - Madden.
The Story of NCAA Football
Unlike many other games, the series didn't stop because of a lack of success. They had legal issues with players' rights.
The NCAA (the governing body for college athletes in America) stopped EA from being able to use the image rights of players and EA didn't want to make the game without the real players and Colleges.
The last title we saw was NCAA Football 14, and some fans still play this game on old consoles now with manually updated rosters.
Recent steps to change the law to allow athletes to make money, along with Colleges themselves making deals, mean that it is viable for EA to come back to making a game around College Football.
EA Sports College Football vs Madden
When comparing Madden to NCAA Football, the key is in the detail of which the audience appreciates each game.
Historically, Madden had a bigger fan base purely because more people are interested in the NFL level and want to play more casually and for the fun of having star players.
This is part of the reason for the huge success of the MUT game mode.
Alternatively, NCAA football had a smaller but more passionate fan base.
Players loved the depth of the game and would play years and years into the future, guiding an unknown College to success through scouting, recruitment, and playing.
The College game is much more disparate in player ability, meaning these off the field activities are far more important. You need to attract good players, you can't just offer big money like in the NFL.
There are some crossovers in the audience.
The passionate franchise players of Madden, are the same people that would LOVE a game like NCAA Football of old to come back.
Things We Want To See In EA Sports College Football
The very elements that Madden has struggled with in recent years, is exactly where EA Sports College Football needs to shine.
These are just some headline things we want to see in EA Sports College Football;
- High levels of customization, with the ability to edit rules, stadiums, teams, logos, playoff size
- Incredibly deep recruiting and scouting process
- Extensive training programs, with the ability to develop players or have their ability drop suddenly
The overwhelming focus of a College Football game should be on the Dynasty/Franchise mode.
It is less about the online play or any card-based Ultimate Team, there is Madden for that.
EA Sports College Football Needs To Be Its Own Game
With the above in mind, it's absolutely crucial that EA Sports take this time to build EA Sports College Football from the ground up.
They have suggested we won't see the game this year, so they should have plenty of time to focus on development.
There are a lot of elements of Madden gameplay that can be used as a template for the in-game engine.
But for all the surrounding content, fans will be really upset if they take the Madden game and just change the teams and players.
It would actually receive a better reception if they used NCAA Football 14 as the template - this would be a sure-fire hit with fans.