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Out of Bounds: The Sad College Basketball Void

The other day I walked out of my house and was shocked by how cold it was. A sharp wind blew through the neighborhood, whipping brown leaves from yard to yard and into the street. The sky hung gray overhead, and a pretty girl rode by on her bike in a sweater. It's days and scenes like the one just described that remind you that we're slipping away from the steamy hand of summer and into the loving arms of fall.

For a sports fan, fall is signaled by college football, the NFL and baseball pennant races. Over the weekend, I watched my Michigan Wolverines tiptoe around the UMass Minuteman. I also had a chance to watch the lowly Michigan State Spartans surprise the equally hated Fighting Irish with a ballsy fake field goal in overtime. All in all, it was a solid Saturday of football, but all I could think about was October.

In October the college basketball preseason kicks off in earnest. Those Hoosier fans out there who still hold the torch for our struggling Indiana squad drive down to Bloomington and trade a canned good at the door of Assembly Hall for the chance to see our boys practice for Midnight Madness. It's a tradition so hokey and old that I'm giddy just thinking about it. You go in, you watch a half-assed practice, and you leave dreaming about those cupcake games in November and a national championship that will probably never materialize.

But years ago there was something else to look forward to when the seasons began to change. With the first days of practice came the release of that year's college basketball games. It was only a few years ago when there was EA Sports' NCAA Basketball/March Madness series and 2K Sports' supremely superior College Hoops franchise. You could go out, buy your game of choice, change all the numbers to names, and get to know the team you idolized a little better on the court. Those games let you experience whatever daydreams you could imagine. You could partake in tensely contested ranked matchups, grind through conference games, and even use the game like a magical crystal ball to glimpse into March -- that wonderful month that seems so far away in the fall and winter.

Of course, we don't have that outlet anymore. Both EA and 2K have discontinued their games and left gamers with a gaping hole that won't be filled in the near future. By all accounts, we are going to be without a college basketball game for the foreseeable future.

As a layman gamer, there are few mysteries that confound me more than this situation. How is it that in a world where companies are developing fringe sports -- forgive me for saying it, but lacrosse, rugby and non-UFC MMA titles fit this description in many circles -- into video games, yet no one is stepping up to the plate to make a new and/or revived college basketball franchise? College basketball is unarguably one of the most popular and profitable sports in the country today. Televised games routinely draw huge numbers, and the world seemingly grinds to a halt every March as the conference tournaments and national tournament tip-off.

It's a shame, honestly, that we can't have these games. College basketball creates an atmosphere unlike any other. The crowds are passionate, the bands dynamic, and the players and plays are routinely memorable and iconic. Yet, even though it's a unique and hard to capture sport, games like College Hoops 2K8, the vanguard of amateur basketball simulation, have been able to capture that feeling and simulate it on our television and computer screens. Playing a college basketball game lends itself to a completely different experience for the gamer than say NBA 2K or NBA Elite, and it's far past time we got a new chapter in that legacy.

The return of the college basketball game would give gamers another way to recognize fall's arrival. From the comforts of our living rooms, we could once again anticipate the song of sneakers chirping across hallowed courts all over the country and think about the roar of a college crowd engulfing our senses.


Jared Sexton works as a professor at Ball State University. When he isn't writing about video games, his stories are being published in magazines and journals around the country.


Member Comments
# 1 GatorChomp2345 @ 09/20/10 12:29 PM
Very well said. As a matter of fact I am playing College Hoops 2k8 right now just wishing that they would come out with a more updated version to help get everyone pumped for the upcoming season. I hope that eventually, one day, they do make that next college bball game. And when they do, I know I will be there to buy it.
 
# 2 jsg @ 09/20/10 12:31 PM
great article
 
# 3 rudeworld @ 09/20/10 12:37 PM
Can't agree with you more..... from the beginning of the College hoops franchise I was instantly hooked as it was the best basket ball game around (with graphics that was less than par) As it from kush games to VC development it still played great but the graphics improved to the last one where to most is the best basket ball game still.

2k Bring back the College Hoops.
 
# 4 bhl @ 09/20/10 12:37 PM
Just graduated from Indiana, and I cannot wait to get my canned food to Btown for Midnight Madness. Great article.
 
# 5 champ195797 @ 09/20/10 12:46 PM
2k should do a college game that would let us upload draft classes from college to NBA
 
# 6 Choops4Life @ 09/20/10 12:46 PM
Great read
 
# 7 Patan @ 09/20/10 12:49 PM
I can understand that you long for a College Hoop game it's big in the US, but the other "niche" Sport Games have mostly a following outside of the US wich can't be said for College Hoops, so a Non UFC MMA game can generate Sales outside of the US same for Rugby. The Game market is worldwide not confined to the US. That said i hope you will get a College Hoop game soon.
 
# 8 DoubleJMix965 @ 09/20/10 01:08 PM
I still play 2k8 religiously with each new season. I'll update it and continue on without missing a beat. I hope 2k can release another one in the near future.
 
# 9 brs2305 @ 09/20/10 01:39 PM
I absolutely agree. Even though I am from a country where College Sport is near non-existent, I really got to love the passionate and unique environment of College Sport, especially Basketball!

Apart from the game engine itself there is so much difference between a Choops game or a NBA game. It feels like a totally different sport experience.

We need another Choops as soon as possible. I would love 2k to implement their great atmosphere and presentation in a new College game. I might even play it more than NBA. Moreover the big advantage of a College Basketball Game is, that it's way easier to get your Franchise going over multiple years, since you can play a realistic season within 25-30 games, while with NBA you might go all the way with over 100 games.
 
# 10 bnoe1023 @ 09/20/10 01:49 PM
In a way, its kind of a blessing for me that there is no College Hoops game. 2k8 was TOO good, and was a major distraction from my schoolwork. But I certainly would not be upset if they released a new one =)
 
# 11 boomhauertjs @ 09/20/10 01:49 PM
The cost of the NCAA license versus the profits from selling a College Hoops game are the big reason why we don't have a new college hoops game this year. Hoping the roster makers put together some good 2010/2011 CH2k8 rosters before November.
 
# 12 mjarz02 @ 09/20/10 01:56 PM
Great article. I'm very surprised 2K didnt pick up after EA dropped their series. I could see it making a return within the next few years. 2K needs to drop baseball and hockey and focus on their basketball games because thats where they dominate!
 
# 13 idesign2 @ 09/20/10 02:12 PM
I'm hoping the demise of EA's franchise will lead to a more vigorous updating of the CH2K8 roster. Maybe we'll get a silver lining out of this gaming void.
 
# 14 stlstudios189 @ 09/20/10 03:44 PM
I just don't understand why college hoops games don't sell well enough. NBA 2k sells buckets but, college hoops have so many more passonate fans.
 
# 15 ehh @ 09/20/10 03:53 PM
I wasn't too upset about the axing of CH because NBA2K9 and 2K10 had major issues and CH2K8 was still the best 2K basketball game out. But now it looks like 2K finally came correct with 2K11 so I'll be annoyed that we aren't getting a college version of it.

I refuse to believe that we'll never see a college basketball game again though. One of these days we'll get that major announcement that it's coming back.
 
# 16 Tomba @ 09/20/10 04:11 PM
Beautifully said my friend...

Not have a college basketball game is very rough.
 
# 17 Airmaxpenny1 @ 09/20/10 04:15 PM
I got emotional reading this article. I can't wait for the day when I rejoice about a new College basketball game.
 
# 18 dtharp12 @ 09/20/10 04:20 PM
I will clarify that the lack of a 2K college basketball game is disheartening.

Being one myself and knowing how rabid they are I can't help but believe that UK fans themselves could make a game profitable if you slapped a former UK player or Calipari on the cover. I'm on the sane end of that spectrum and I'd be in for 2 if the game was an upgraded CH2K8.

It would be interested to know what the NCAA is demanding for licensing a basketball game.
 
# 19 Steadtler @ 09/20/10 04:38 PM
No other developer can step up. At this generation, the cost of making a simulation sport game is so high that even if the license(s) was free, a developer couldn't make a profit with college basketball alone. The only hope is for 2K or EA to re-use their NBA engine. Now the fact that BOTH of them decided to give up despite a working engine gives you an idea of just how unreasonable the NCAA is or was. If you want to complain to anyone, write to the NCAA.

Also, the world doesn't grind to an halt each march. Face it: worldwide, college basketball is less popular than female beach volleyball.
 
# 20 Philstat @ 09/20/10 04:58 PM
EA destroyed college basketball video gaming, they couldn't compete so they bought the rights and then screwed it up!
 

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