Electronic Arts (EA) has made a bunch of changes this year, like every game company had to do. Whether it’s in terms of trying to mitigate the effects of a global pandemic or vow to make considerable changes in terms of inequality, EA is a shifting, morphing beast.
One way the developer is staying monolithic in the worst way, however, is its treatment of their ice hockey license. The recently confirmed edition of NHL 21 is, once again, the bare minimum effort at profiting from an annual release. For starters, the game is only announced for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Their other sports games, FIFA 21 and Madden NFL 21, have both had their jump into the next generation confirmed, with at least PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X supported. For FIFA, the Nintendo Switch will receive one of the company’s notorious “Legacy” editions that only update the bare minimum of kits and players. It is, however, a supported platform. NHL does not receive the same lenience.
More baffling still is that NHL 21 is not even returning to PC. While EA has democratized their PC releases, by returning to Steam in a big way, their added support does not extend to their ice hockey game. PC has been taking up much more market share in recent years, likely the reason for EA to not restrict their titles to their Origin ecosystem. NHL 21, however, remains one of those games that are only available on a select few platforms. It’s been since NHL 09, two thousand and nine, that the sports franchise has been available on PC. Considering Microsoft’s Smart Delivery service, there doesn’t seem to be a reason for this outdated mentality to still apply. The pipeline has never made it easier for EA to reconnect with their audience.
NHL 21 will feature Alex Ovechkin as the cover athlete. You know them; they’re the player who has also cross pollinated to none other than World of Tanks. Fun fact: that tank game’s console release has just been announced for Nintendo Switch, with full cross-play nonetheless. So, it is fully possible for companies to adapt to consumer demand. Get with the times, EA. NHL games deserve better.