It’s no secret the CFL wants to do a better job connecting with and expanding younger audiences. What better way to do this than with a good CFL video gaming experience?
The CFL teased us Tuesday with this mysterious post captioned “Coming Wednesday: A revamped way to enjoy your favorite #CFL games!”
The photo has fans intrigued as it is reminiscent of a play station controller. Many fans were hopeful for a video game while many were expecting to be disappointed by an announcement of a gambling-related website.
Single-game sports betting was legalized not even 2 years ago in Canada in August of 2021. Now Canadian sports programming contains a nearly overwhelming constant flow of gambling advertisements that seems to be on a warpath to try to make every young impressionable fan a gambling addict. Thus it’s understandable several fans were not excited by this announcement.
The reveal did end up being a pick-em and fantasy type of website. A step forward but leaves fans wanting more.
It goes without saying that a CFL video game that’s done right would be awesome. Playing as your favorite CFL team against your friends in high-stakes 3-down football where every down is so pivotal.
Now you might be saying, this isn’t realistic, the last time there was a licensed CFL game was CFL Football 99. I’ll acknowledge it’s a stretch to expect a standalone high-quality CFL game. There was a non-licensed Canadian Football game in 2017, but it did not garner many positive reviews.
In my mind, there are three avenues for a CFL video game.
The simple pathway would be to package CFL content within the Madden releases. EA Sports NHL series has European leagues and the junior leagues of the CHL. Their FIFA series is a collective of so so many leagues across many continents. It is not unfeasible to think that the Canadian Football League could be packaged within the Madden series.
There would be some serious things to be done to incorporate the different Canadian field sizes and rules but this seems very doable. I would hope that different CFL-oriented game modes would be packaged in the game in such a way.
To have the CFL packaged in the Madden game would only help to grow the brand to football fans who may not be traditional CFL fans.
A standalone CFL game made by 2K Sports would make sense. 2K used to make very competitive NFL games before EA got the exclusive rights. 2K could continue making high-quality football games using the CFL brands instead. It would not garner the same interest as the NFL does, but the Madden fanbase is often upset with EA, saying the developers have become stagnant in moving the product forward and could perhaps be interested in an alternative.
I could see this being viable if 2K were to make a game with licensing from the CFL, XFL, and USFL. The combined interest of all three leagues would intrigue football fans from many different fandoms and create a very intriguing Madden competitor.
Maximum Football is a new free-to-play football game that will be releasing later this year. The game is made in Unreal Engine 5 and looks fantastic. It relies on player collisions and movements which is refreshing after Madden’s frequent animation locks.
Looking at the dev notes on this game it’s clear these people love football and want to make a game that truly feels like football.
“The blue line below represents the intended route of the receiver, while the red line shows the actual route that the receiver will run, which is determined by the player attributes.” The developer note read. “(keep in mind the route can change dynamically if the receiver is bumped during the play). He will aim for a location within the circles that are shown in the image. Receivers with a higher Route Running attribute have smaller circles, which means they have less room for error.”
“The ball carrier decides where to navigate based on a lot of factors: Where are the closest threats? Where are his blockers? Where is the end-zone? Where is the sideline? Where is the line of scrimmage and what direction is he currently going?” Another developer note read.
This is the ideal avenue in my mind for CFL football. In my perfect dreamland, the CFL gives them the right to use CFL teams and players in the event that Modus Studios is truly interested in giving the Canadian football game the respect it deserves by properly inserting the Canadian rules.
I would hope that if something were to happen that Maximum Football would contain certain game modes that I would want in a CFL game and possibly even be a team of people to act as rating adjusters for the rosters.
In the event CFL content is to be packaged into Maximum Football, there would also be the advantage of not having a yearly release, but rather a game that would be continuously being improved and updated. The yearly release model used in EA Sports games can often be a barrier to players participating in online content who are not interested in purchasing a full price video game for football every year.
The business model for Maximum Football is to launch the game for free and progressively add playable content. A CFL downloadable content package could be added to this game to essentially add a CFL game within Maximum Football that would be profitable and not require building an entire game from the ground up.
Maximum Football Key Features:
Unmatched Realism and Physics
With stunning graphics, authentic gameplay, and realistic physics-based tackling, all powered by Unreal Engine 5, you’ll feel like you’re on the field with your team. Breathe in the energy from the crowd: it’s go time!
Assume the role of a head coach and build your ideal league. Draft, recruit, and manage your dream team to take them all the way to greatness.
Pro Season Mode
Play through a professional season against 31 teams, all going head-to-head for the championship. Hit the field and lead your team to glory.
Personalize every aspect of a team, from logos, jerseys, and helmets to individual pieces of equipment, and then share your creations with the community.
Local and Online Multiplayer
Go player vs. player in online Head-to-Head modes or enjoy cooperative local play with friends.
The game continues to expand with new downloadable content being rolled out regularly, including fresh new features, new rule sets, new modes, and additional customizations.
Let’s dive into some realistic and unrealistic features I would like to see in such a game.
Your standard exhibition game. Jump right in and choose your teams. Play against the computer, or against a friend sitting next to you or over the internet.
Features like create a player and create a team have been very enjoyable in sports games allowing players to take control of their virtual sports world. To be able to create a stadium or jerseys for teams would also be a very nice feature as well.
The ability to share customized rosters, created teams, and created players would greatly add to the community’s experience in a CFL game.
No modern sports game is complete without a franchise mode. For the past few years in Madden games, players have been able to create online franchise modes and play in a league with their friends.
An online franchise mode in a CFL game would arguably be more fun than the NFL’s counterpart due to the nature of the league’s schedule with more repeat matchups. In Madden’s online franchise mode, it is not uncommon for 2 players to go an entire season without playing each other. Whereas in a CFL online franchise mode, all teams would be very intertwined in their schedules making the experience all the more enjoyable if playing with a small group of friends.
The idea of playing an online franchise mode in a CFL game with my friends is so appealing to me that words don’t even do it justice.
In addition to starting a season with 9 teams, I would like to see the option to choose to add up to 3 custom teams as expansion teams. Players could choose cities in Canada such as Halifax, Quebec City, London, Windsor, or a plethora of American cities. Players could choose to start their franchise mode as an already established team or as an expansion team.
Another fun setting could be the ability to play in the CFL East vs West all-star game after Grey Cup week. This game doesn’t exist in real life, but it’s a video game let’s add it in.
In addition to the challenge of building a team within a salary cap, managing a CFL team presents another unique challenge in the ratio rule. Of the 45 players on the game-day roster, there are the following requirements.
|Min. 21||Min. 2||Max. 20||2||1||46|
In addition 7 of the 24 starters have to be national players.
The rookie acquisition would be done primarily through the CFL draft for Canadian players, American scouting, and the Global draft for global players. Of course, there would be free agency as well.
Be a Pro
Be a pro is another great staple in modern sports gaming. In a perfect world, I would like to see the option to start in the Vanier Cup in college. After this point, you could proceed to see where you are drafted if your created pro is a Canadian or see what teams offer you contracts if playing as an American player.
In my perfect unrealistic dream world, you could play a full collegiate career on any USports team, but that’s not realistic to expect licensing to line up with all USports teams. On the other hand, such a thing would only benefit them as USports frankly needs a lot more exposure.
Alternatively, there could be the option to choose what team your created pro starts their career with.
Football Ultimate Team
If EA Sports were to be the maker of such a game they would be unable to resist the urge to include this game mode due to its ability to generate funds off of microtransactions.
In Ultimate Team you earn coins in online and offline gameplay that you can use to buy player packs that contain random players of varying quality. Players can alternatively use real money to purchase packs. This practice has been ruled to be “illegal gambling” recently in an Austrian court.
If you have any ideas or thoughts on a CFL video game or different features you would want to see I would personally love to hear about it in the comments here or on my twitter @JonathanClink
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