Good morning, and thanks for your continued support of Extra Points.

I hope all of you are getting ready to enjoy a bit of a break over the coming holiday. In the coming days, schools will close, offices will slow down, and many people will get an opportunity to catch their breath and spend some quality time with family. I'm going to do that, which is why Extra Points is going to take a week off after today.

The weather is garbage just about everywhere, so all that family time probably means indoor activities. Like video games.

Sadly, the next EA Sports College Football game isn't slated to publish until 2024. EA has an exclusive license to produce "simulation" college football titles, and there aren't any immediate plans for EA, or any other studio, to produce an AAA-caliber game for any other college sport.

But that doesn't mean that there aren't other projects in the college sports gaming space going on. I've recently talked to developers involved with two, aiming to hit two very different parts of the market.

Hall of GOATS is targeting the collectathon Ultimate Team gamer

A popular feature of modern AAA gaming franchises like Madden, FIFA and NBA2K is the 'Ultimate Team' mode. Players collect 'cards' by completing various challenges (or by paying for them), which they can use to create their own fantasy teams to play against other players, or the computer. There's still an action component, but it's also a collectible card game.

Many consumers do not like these game modes, likening them to gambling. I can't account for taste, but personally, I actually enjoy them, so long as the game has balance, and doesn't require users to pay additional money to have a fun experience. In practice, it's usually difficult to play online in Ultimate Team mods without either sinking in extra money, loads of time, or both.

Gamers who legitimately enjoy the collecting experience may be interested in a video game project by Hall of GOATS, the NFT-turned-other-stuff now platform fronted by Matt Leinart- and Caleb Williams.

The group dropped the trailer for their game project last month:

The project, which the development team tells me is currently targeted for a 2024 release, aims to be a free-to-play, "arcade style" football game, where players can collect virtual avatars of college football greats, build a team, and play against friends. Essentially, it's a version of Madden Ultimate Team, only with the cards being NFTs that can kick money back to the original athletes.

The early trailer shows several former college players, like LenDale White, Vince Young and Ron Dayne, as well as current players like Zach Evans and Caleb Williams.

Unlike the EA Sports franchise, this game is unlikely to feature licenses from universities, as the team tells me they are "focused on individual player licenses" at the moment. The development team also tells me that the licensing agreements for Hall of GOATs are not exclusive, so participating in this project would not keep a player from also allowing their likeness to be used in the EA Sports project, or other gaming projects.

Of course, it doesn't matter what player likenesses can be secured, or what NFT protocol the project uses, if the game itself isn't fun. Video game development involving 3D graphics can be very challenging and expensive, and this team has never produced anything like a free-to-play college football game before.

The development team tells me they are using Unity to build the game, a popular development system that is very popular with indie developers (it was used to make games like Cuphead, Hollow Knight, and the Untitled Goose Game), but isn't generally known for sports or high-intensity action titles. The team plans to launch beta releases on PC, and eventually plans to release the game on Xbox, PlayStation and PC, with mobile and Switch offerings potentially post launch.

This isn't going to be something that replaces EA Sports College Football, and if you aren't interested in NFTs or collectibles, this probably isn't the project for you. But if you enjoy Ultimate Modes, or want to see if a newer team can crack a competitive game space, it may be worth keeping an eye on what Hall of GOATs can come up with.

But if you're more into the simulation side of college football, there's a game you can actually play right this second.

I still fire up my old copy of NCAA 14 a few times a year and play through a few seasons of Dynasty mode. When I do, I generally don't play through every game...who has that kind of time? I almost always end up spending more time on recruiting, roster management, and scrolling through table after table, looking for an edge.

No matter how lousy a program you have at the start, with careful management, you can turn just about everybody into a juggernaut stocked with five-stars, even if you're lousy at playing the actual game. The roster management is a game within a game.

If you play college football games a similar way, you're in luck. There's a game you can play right this second that focuses entirely on the recruiting, donor management, program building and simulation aspects of college football.

It's called Football Coach College Dynasty, and it's available for PC owners on Steam. The game was released earlier this month as an Early Access title, and you can buy your own copy for 12 bucks.

This is not a 3D action game where you smash the circle button to spin away from a linebacker. It looks and plays similar to titles like Football Manager. You build a recruiting list, decide on your playbook, build out gameplans from week to week, and more.

If you want to get really into the Xs and Os side, you can game out the success rates of specific plays against specific defenses, and call plays during the game. If you want to simulate games and focus more on player training, recruitment and evaluations, you can do that too.

What's especially impressive is that the entire thing is basically a one-man show. I talked with Achi Jones, the Florida fan who built the game. Jones built a few simple Mobile versions of the game in and shortly after college, with FCCD now the third version of his vision.

Jones works full-time as a software developer and essentially cranked the whole project out in seven months while on sabbatical. Jones told me that he wrote the game in JavaScript, and while he is working on support for Mac users, he doesn't see a release on PlayStation, Xbox or Switch in the near future.

From playing, I think it's clear that this was a production of a solo developer, and it's a bit rough around the edges in some parts, but it's also a significant achievement, and plenty of fun for the kind of person who is 29 seasons deep on their PS3 Dynasty.

Is it possible that we could see other games on the horizon? Maybe?

Game development is hard work, and requires significant skills and resources. AAA studios aren't likely to commit the time, money and resources to build out massive new hockey, lacrosse or volleyball games in the near future, unless they become convinced they could be profitable...and maybe not even then.

But there's no reason other indie developers couldn't take a whack at capturing part of the college sports market. Maybe other simulation products could hit the market, or more arcade-y focused, or life simulator, or puzzle, or any number of other projects. Thanks to products like Unity or Game Maker Pro, indie projects are more attainable than ever before.

And if any interesting ones start that touch college sports in some way, we want to hear about them.

Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time for my vacation. And I have a date with #11 ranked Iowa City to prepare for.


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