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EA Sports

Published on April 9th, 2013 | by Cory Wells, Contributor

Ultimate Team Modes, A Gimmick No One Wants


A couple of years ago, in order to add depth to sports games, developers started to include card-based games.  You basically  start out with a scrub team and earn points to unlock new cards in order to build a great team.

While it seemed okay at first, it would soon become a ploy to purchase more cards or points to unlock new players. Cards would be offered later on that would force participants to purchase if they really wanted a given individual. The drive to offer downloadable content is the whole reason the Ultimate Team Modes are included in-game.

Madden started this trend, and now every EA Sports game has the mode included. Other titles, such as  MLB: The Show, have taken note with its inclusion of Diamond Dynasty.


Now, NCAA 14, a game with unlicensed players, is somehow going to incorporate this mode. A game that use to have Division 1-AA teams ten years ago, and for some reason does not now, is getting a mode that it frankly does not need, and that no one will play.

“The inclusion of the Infinity Engine and several new gameplay features make this year’s game feel incredibly fresh and authentic, and the introduction of Ultimate Team will give fans the chance to take the field with some of the most well-known players of all time.”–Randy Chase, Marketing Director for EA SPORTS

Where focus could be elsewhere to support these sports games, the mode feels forced. It’s as if the developers are saying, “Hey, we’re offering something more with this mode. It’s addicting because you have to work your way to unlock players.” Or, “Hey you could just ‘cheat’ and buy the players. That’s easier, just pay us.” Anytime you see advertising for a title after its release, it’s generally to promote new cards and buy new packs. What I would like to see in a game is somewhat like this, but in a more traditional sense.

Way back in 1997, when the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays were expansion teams, Triple Play Baseball ’98 offered an expansion draft. This was a cool concept that has only made one appearance. I agree on building a team from the ground up into something great, but have the official rules for expansion involved. Create a team, enter a division, and have an expansion draft where the A.I. teams have to submit players to pick from. Then, the team builds through Free Agency and a respected draft. This will coincide with the actual season, rather than playing some fake team made of scrubs that depend on unlocking players.

I honestly could see maybe one game having a card game, but now it’s in every sports game. It’s even worse if that new game’s main feature is a card game. This just shows lack of effort and innovation on the side of developers. I think that, coupled with the hope to profit off of this, is why it’s in every sports game now. Most people would rather focus on their actual seasons or online reputation, than mess with these modes.

Final Truth:

A quick cash-in to add artificial and fabricated depth is a fail on many levels. These modes are equivalent to Facebook games, and those fans don’t typically pick up sports games on a console. After all, Fantasy Drafts in sports games pay better dividends than Ultimate Team modes do.

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