The NFL is currently the reigning king of sports, but it’s not the only game in town. College football is getting more and more popular every year; there's a fan base of students and alumni that have always followed their teams. But, the popularity of the NFL is creating fans that are branching out into college football to get even more of that pigskin fix every fall.
In gaming, the story has been no different; the NFL has always been the king of sports video games. The NFL year in and year out slaughters its college football competitors in video game sales. However this really shouldn’t be the case. Gaming-wise college football just brings more to the table. While the masses side with the NFL I’m going to tell you why college football has more to offer gamers than the juggernaut that is the NFL.
College football has a unique advantage over its professional counterpart, the opportunity to pick from over 100 different teams. The different teams doesn’t just mean that you have a different logo, new uniforms, and a change of venue; it means a different style of play.
Sure in the NFL you do see some different styles of play: you might see a team operate more out of the shotgun, or line up more frequently with three or four wide receivers, but that is nothing like the differences you see in college football.
In college, if you notice things are getting a bit stale playing with a pro-style team like USC, you can simply shake things up and start playing with Navy and its power option running game, or get crazy and go out to Florida with its wide-open spread offense. Switching from one team to another can change the experience of the game completely, since you’re now playing an entirely different style of football.
One of the reasons that football in general translates so well to video games is because of the short seasons that you play. The fact that you can play 20 games or less and finish an entire season definitely trumps the idea of taking on a full 162 game baseball season or an 82 game NBA season. The thought alone of playing that many games is intimidating.
Sure you can simulate some of the games, but what’s the point if you’re simming the majority of your season? Plus, if you shorten the season it just takes away authenticity from the game. While any type of football game is great in this department, college football manages to even top the NFL. In college football, you’re only going to play a max of 14 games, even if you play a conference championship, and a bowl game.
In the NFL, you’re going to play an extra two games minimum and likely add two to four more to that, since odds are your team is going to the playoffs. That means that the college season is actually about 25 percent shorter, helping you to get through multiple seasons and giving you more of an opportunity to go deeper into your favorite team’s future.
In the NFL you see some great rivalries: you have the Patriots and the Colts, the Cowboys vs. Redskins, or Raiders vs. Broncos. However few NFL rivalries can compare to the passion and pure hatred you have in college football: Ohio State vs. Michigan, Oklahoma vs. Texas, Alabama vs. Auburn, Army vs. Navy, and that’s just scratching the surface of college football rivalries.
Great rivalries aren’t the only scheduling advantage in college football. College sports are unique in that you can pick your schedule. In the NFL you’re locked into what they give you for scheduling in a season, while in college football you can actually go out and choose to play who you want, where you want, and when you want for your non-conference games.
This gives you more of an opportunity for that open-ended story line that you can write each season. Developers are going to give us what they give us for game play. Currently we’re left at the mercy of EA for both NFL and college football games because of the exclusive license deals with both leagues, so EA can pick and choose where to spend its development money.
The big name players and the popularity of the NFL will help to keep it on top of the sports world. But when you look purely from a gaming aspect and what each brings to the table, college football offers a unique experience that should have it at the top of gaming lists when it comes to pigskin-related sports.
This article was written by Rob Fetter for Operation Sports. Operation Sports is the Internet's leading sports video games resource.