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Reflecting on the CFL’s Pre-Covid Video Game Inquiry with Axis Games

A good video game product is a great way for professional sports leagues to have additional ways to connect with their fans, particularly younger audiences. Prior to the world being put on pause by the COVID-19 pandemic, the CFL was beginning to explore possibilities to secure the development of an officially licensed CFL video game.

Axis Games is an indie game design company specializing in sports and medieval role-play games. They release an annual unlicensed football game titled Axis Football. They describe Axis Football as featuring fluid simulation gameplay, endless customization, and the industry’s best franchise mode.

Recently I reached out to Axis Games’ President and Lead Developer Danny Jugan to gauge their level of interest in developing an officially licensed CFL video game. 

“In short, yes. Axis Games would be willing to work with the CFL to release an officially licensed game.” Danny Jugan responded. “A few years ago, we had communication with the CFL in an unofficial capacity, but Covid stalled out those talks.”

“Our title does not currently support Canadian rules, so it would take a bit of work to include that, or release a separate title. In order to expand in this direction, we would look for funding assistance from the league.”

The talks between Axis Football and the CFL did not reach a finalized agreement before the CFL was focused on damage control as they juggled how to handle the covid pandemic which ultimately saw the 2020 season get canceled.

“We didn’t discuss numbers, but the idea was something like this: the CFL would provide funding in the ballpark of 750K-1M and the license to put their teams and players into the game. Axis would provide the game and share revenue with the CFL.”

One current drawback with Axis Football’s current title is that it is exclusively an offline game that does not have a way for online multiplayer, although that may change in the future.

“Online play is something we are strongly considering for the future. We have most of our large features planned out for the next version, instant replay, play editor, etcetera, but we are looking at online play for the version after that.”

Deep Franchise Mode

Managing a CFL team is in many ways much harder than managing an NFL team. You have to juggle the national ratio rules, be on top of making sure the negotiation list has quality prospects with a future chance of coming to the CFL, and monitor when players become available from NFL systems.

Axis Games would be an intriguing developer for a CFL game. The developer describes their game as possessing the industry’s best franchise mode. The franchise mode available in Axis Football’s franchise mode does provide an impressive level of depth and customizability indicating high levels of attention to detail and creativity. The game also supports mods on PC and there are mods created by their community that allow users to add teams from other leagues such as the NCAA or NFL.

There is the option to play in a 32-team league, or you can play in 3 leagues of 12 with promotion and relegation. It also has an intriguing scouting system to assess prospects coming available in future drafts. The mode is in-depth to the point of maintaining and upgrading team assets like the field condition, luxury boxes, and even team planes and buses.

With the many nuances surrounding the world of the Canadian Football League, a developer with a passion for creating a product that is detail-oriented and goes in-depth into the facets of running a CFL team could make for a good possible partnership.

Jugan was asked what kind of vision Axis Games might have for such a title regarding possible features if an agreement were to be reached.

“I’d be hesitant to comment on the kind of vision we would have, as that’s something we would approach and decide on together with the league. The goal from our end would be to put out the best game possible, including some features that we are working on now.”

Closing

A quality video game product is arguably an essential area of need in order to continue connecting with the next generation. The fact that the CFL previously had reached out to initiate talks concerning this shows that they have a desire for an officially licensed game. For a league as prestigious as the CFL it will be important for such a game to possess online play capabilities to have an impactful place in the modern world of video games.

Despite not having online play in Axis Football, Axis Games is an interesting prospect for such a partnership given their attention to detail and passion to allow creativity. If given the resources to increase the size of their production abilities there may be potential for a great product to come from a partnership.

@JonathanClink on Twitter

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Jonathan Clink Reporter
Jonathan Clink joined CFL News Hub in early April of 2023. His primary responsibilities are covering the BC Lions and Montreal Alouettes. He self awarded himself the CFL Rookie Journalist of the Year in 2023 following the 2023 CFL season. He also proclaims himself to be a "really cool guy". He was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and lived a large portion of his childhood in Northwest Ontario. He currently lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan and misses being being able to have 4 months of skating every winter. Clink has written over 240 articles for CFL News Hub. He was the publication's boots on the ground at the 2023 Grey Cup in Hamilton. Clink has always had an obsession for sport and has a background in other sports as well having played hockey all his life and soccer, basketball, and lacrosse in high school. As a young child he used to log his hockey statistics after every game which is either an indication that he was destined for the role or perhaps and indication that he is rather strange.
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