So how does Electronic Arts get better? How does EA Sports improve on the iconic NCAA Football franchise? It asks WVU for help.
Last July, EA Sports invited WVU’s Director of Football Operations Alex Hammond and Coordinator of Recruiting Ryan Dorchester to the Tiburon Studios office in Orlando, Fla. The purpose? EA Sports wanted to modernize recruiting in dynasty mode. A contact recommended the Mountaineers.
On a weekend Hammond’s wife was out of town, he and Dorchester knocked out a marathon weekend of simulating seasons and detailing recruiting. They then organized their observations and opinions, prepared a PowerPoint presentation and wowed EA Sports in a lengthy, fruitful meeting.
Exactly how fruitful EA Sports can’t yet say. Nevertheless, the giant promises WVU’s visit influenced the improved recruiting in the upcoming 2014 version of the game.
“It wasn’t necessarily how you recruit a kid,” Dorchester said. “That’s hard. I don’t know how you can really replicate that in a video game. A lot of it was saying, ‘Here are some things that we feel aren’t necessarily realistic in the video game and here’s how those things happen in real life.’ Understanding it can’t exactly be simulated in a video game, we just wanted to give them an idea of what it was like on this side of the table.”
EA Sports will specifically thank WVU for its help in the next edition, which is something the Mountaineers can point at when recruits are visiting.
“What’s exciting to me is that WVU and what we’re doing has a place on the national radar,” Hammond said. “There could have been plenty of colleges they wanted to talk to and they talked to us.”
When NCAA Football ’14 comes out in July, it will introduce some changes influenced by WVU’s visit, though EA Sports can’t share them just yet.
“There are definitely features that we’ve added and things that have happened that are based on the conversation we had with them,” producer/designer Christian McLeod said. “There are a couple key points that eventually we’ll be able to talk about that are the direct result of the conversation we had.”