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June 18, 2004

NCAA Football 2005 Video Game: Too Real?

FROM THE PROGRAMMED REALITY OF VIDEO GAMES comes the latest generation of actuality to grace our screens: NCAA Football 2005 from the pixar-like realists at EA Sports.

The new game—scheduled for shipment in July--goes a couple steps beyond last year’s version. NCAA Football 2004 sold 1.6 million units and was second only to EA Sports’ Madden NFL 2004.

However, the more noteworthy tweaks of the new game have to do with off-field techno- realisms that sadly mirror the more negative trends of real-life college football.

For example, an interview on the EA Sports website with NCAA Football 2005 producer Ron Moye describes the “Stadium Pulse” device, with which players can rattle and confuse the visiting team by ratcheting up the din.

Moye says, “We can't forget about (what) really creates the home field advantage, the fans. There's nothing like a playing in a packed stadium with 100,000 fans packed to the gill. We've modeled 3D fans that wear team specific stuff and do team specific animations, and these guys are crazy. They cheer, boo, mock, and generally act like wild people.” (Emphasis added).

Other newly added off-field tweaks of realism described by Moye include:

Student-athlete misbehavior: “Off the field, players may have academic issues or team rule violations. You can discipline these players by sitting them or suspending them. If you fail to maintain your program, the penalties can be quite severe--from losing scholarships and television exposure, to the inability to play in bowls or for championships, to even the death penalty.”

Transfers: “We added transfers to the mix this year. Players who feel that they don't have a chance to get on the field may ask to transfer to another school.”

Recruiting: “We added a pipeline feature to allow you to build on your recruiting success out of a certain state or region.”

These were approved by the NCAA?

Video games of this sort retail for $50. Even allowing for generous retail mark-ups, EA Sports will probably sell NCAA Football 2004 to retailers for at least $30 apiece. Assuming another 1.6 million units sold, that’s a gross of $48 million.

One could run the entire Ohio State athletics program with that kind of money.

(this 368 word item was sourced from the EA Sports website [easports.com] and an 842 word article from USATODAY.com of 6-17-04)