Electronic Arts has confirmed that NHL 15 which is the first year that NHL will appear on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, we have now found out that two modes will not make the trip. The online EA Sports Hockey League and the GM Connected modes will not be a part of this year’s release.
As you can imagine, hardcore fans of the EA Sports Hockey League mode where players form actual teams of 6 and compete against other teams of 6 in an online league, is a major problem for many long time players of the franchise. Retailers we have spoken with have told us that they have seen buyers cancel their pre-orders for the game or move their pre-order dollars to another title saying that they will just skip NHL 15 this year.
The decision to pull the EASHL out of the game this year caught many by surprise, but we are hearing now that EA is committed to rebuilding this mode from the ground up and will reintroduce it next year in NHL 16 hopefully. We do suspect however that it will be more likely that it will be a priority return next year as if sales fall this year, then they will know that they have to offer the feature next year.
As for the GM Connected mode, EA claims that this mode was the least played of all of the modes in the NHL franchise and the return of GM Connected more is much more in doubt. EA has stated that they will be looking at what can be done to make this mode of game play better and more engaging so that players might want to play it. We will have to wait and see if this actually does return, but right now we have to say that it is unlikely that we will see it anytime soon.
With the subtraction of the EASHL and the GM connected mode this year, EA hopes that players were will spend more time checking out the Hockey Ultimate Team which is a microtransaction based card collected mode in a quest to build your own ultimate team. Personally, I have found the mode to be expensive and actually kind of boring.
The decision to not see the EASHL mode make the jump this year is going to heavily impact the sales of the title this year. Some have whispered to us that the fact that NHL is developed by the same studio that develops FIFA isn’t good for NHL fans as FIFA simple gets more resources. We don’t know how true this is, but we do know that FIFA does not have online leagues and will likely never have them. It is also the best-selling of all of the sports titles.