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NHL 21 Roster Share Would Be Huge Win, So Why Does It Remain Absent?

NHL 21 roster share feature

NHL 21

NHL 21 Roster Share Would Be Huge Win, So Why Does It Remain Absent?

Every sports game needs a roster share or general “share” feature. But in a sport like football, soccer, baseball or hockey it becomes even more useful due to the wide breadth of leagues and teams available. What’s unfortunate here is that only two of those sports have quality “share” features: baseball and football. We made another stink this year during pre-release when we were informed there would once again be no NHL 21 roster share feature, but it’s not the only culprit here.

Madden’s roster share feature has had some rough moments where it simply does not work for long stretches, but the point is it’s there. In The Show, between the roster sharing and carryover saves, it’s helped keep a stagnant franchise mode from becoming completely frustrating. In NBA 2K, they have tried to do the most with the “share” feature out of any franchise besides maybe PES, and while it can be very spotty in some areas, the point is they’re trying to give people ample opportunities to share rosters, draft classes and a multitude of other elements.

With FIFA, the fact that there’s no roster share — or share feature of any sort — is truly confusing. It prides itself on having more leagues than any game, and yet we can’t share tactics, or rosters or sliders. Being able to share tactics alone would really open up a lot of helpful authentic stuff in career mode. On some level, NHL has a little bit of an excuse because it’s a smaller development team, but with FIFA there’s just no reason for a share feature not to exist at this point.

Then there’s PES, where you can share kits, logos, team names, tactics, rosters and logos. Microsoft consoles have missed out on some of this due to how Microsoft has designed the sharing features, but the share feature has really helped PES continue to stay relevant even while losing some licenses here and there.

NHL 21 Roster Share Should Exist Already

But returning to the main point here, an NHL 21 roster share feature is so desperately wanted because it could really open up a lot of new avenues for the series.

nhl 21 roster share

EA NHL developers should be commended for really trying to beef up their franchise mode and career modes the last couple years. NHL was woefully behind the competition, and EA has mostly put those two modes back into a stable place that can now be added to in future years to keep it up to date. The issue — and this is perhaps more pronounced this year with the delayed start to the real season — is the rosters themselves need a lot of work. EA has been criticized for being slow to give official roster updates in the past, and while we did get one earlier than usual this year to get some rookies into the game, the rosters are still far from ideal for fans of the sport.

It goes beyond just the base rosters as well. Yes, it stinks that we have to keep all the top-rated rookies in the minors rather than have them on NHL teams right now due to NHLPA rules, but that’s a short-term issue. The longer-term issues here, and things that could just overall improve the gameplay and authenticity, are a blessing and a curse. The EA NHL games actually have quite a bit of depth when it comes to editing players and creating them, but it’s hard to appreciate that on a wider scale.

Player Editing Is Not Being Utilized Enough

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One example of this is the skating and shooting style edits for individual players (and celebrations):


SHOOTING STYLE
Shot Style
One Timer Style

SKATING STYLE
Spine Angle
Spine Curve
Stride Gait
Stride Distance
Stride Height
Upper Body Twist
Hustle Style
Hustle Arm Swing
Hustle Arm Snap
One Handed Arm Swing

CELEBRATIONS


All of those elements can be edited and tweaked for every single NHL player. However, the EA developers didn’t really do much here for the actual NHL players, so it’s more for the created players you make for Be A Pro and so on. However, if we had roster share, people could go ham and actually change the skating styles and shooting styles of hundreds of players. Many of the stars of the NHL have distinct and different shots and skating styles and that could go a long way to adding authenticity to the game.

The NHL also has a ton of leagues and the draft is a big element of the NHL, much like it is in every sport. EA also doesn’t get every top prospect into the game, so that leaves us with the “minors” being not where they need to be. Every year, people on OS create a thread to make prospects, but draft classes and minor league teams are the obvious misses here by not having an actual roster share. It stinks in every game where this is not a thing because it just flat out hurts the franchise mode folks. (Beyond roster share, we also need to be able to edit attributes after starting a franchise, but that’s not directly tied to roster share.)

Player Appearances

nhl-21-f13

This is another one where roster share would help a lot, but there’s still a minor element that would need to come from EA still. First off, COVID means we didn’t get a ton of new face scans — and fair enough there — but the appearance editor in the game is very good. We have a lot of generic players in the game right now, but you can bet there are plenty of people out there who would happily edit tons of these players (both low-level guys and stars who did not get face scans) to make them more updated. However, what’s the point if we can’t actually share this info?

Now, the other part EA just needs to do separate from allowing us to share player edits is fix player portraits. We should not have black boxes for player portraits for anyone in the NHL. We have real photos of these guys, make sure they’re always in there. At the very least, put in a virtual image of the player rather than an empty black box. I don’t expect player portraits to be part of the roster share, but this just needs a logical workaround because it’s a small but noticeable thing that should not be okay anymore in modern sports games.

Player Ratings

nhl 21 franchise mode trade deadline

Look, we all get why the base roster for the NHL is so jammed up with overalls being stuck in the 70s to 90s for the most part. There are tons of minor leagues and other leagues in the game, so the 100 overall scale means EA tries to separate players at the top level from those below. But we know from experience this is not the best way to make the NHL game feel great. It’s also humorous to point out that without other leagues in the game, the NHL 94 Rewind game actually has a bigger overall spread that uses more of the 100 point scale than the base game because there are no other leagues in it. (The oldest EA NHL games used most of the 100 point scale.)

So what happens is that a bunch of people do take the time to try and edit ratings and make the stars stick out more from the fourth liners out there. This is time consuming, but it’s useful. It doesn’t fix everything, and part of the issue is “overall rating” is tied into certain stats that get boosted artificially to get players to higher overalls. In other words, some sort of more diverse player rating/player type system could help make an 88 overall defender feel more different from an 88 overall sniper if the ratings system was more flexible.

Regardless, being able to edit roster ratings and then share that roster is just yet another example of how an NHL 21 roster share would make the game better.

Sliders And Line Settings

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Game sliders are an obvious one here, but line settings also matter. Being able to edit how each team plays and how every line plays — and fix the four lines and defensive pairings — is a nice little addition that is being missed out on right now.

These line settings really do matter as well. Individual line strategies will very much change how each line feels, and while you’re obviously in control of how your team plays, it would be great to be able to tweak these things for every NHL team. Again, the developers have put quite a bit of depth into these areas of the game, but they sometimes go overlooked and folks don’t realize how much they really can enhance the game by making teams and players all stand out in new ways that you did not realize were possible.

Bottom Line

I am always confused when developers don’t include a “share” feature in their games. I don’t see any downside for including it. The people who love the game will make it better, and you’ll get a happier audience because there’s another avenue to make the game better. Sometimes there can be a legal component to it where there’s a fear of lawsuits because certain things are being shared, but Madden, PES, The Show and NBA 2K have all seemingly been able to be comfortable with that. In other words, I understand the fear when a smaller indie game developer does not want to put a share feature in its sports game, but companies like EA and Take-Two have plenty of money and lawyers to deal with any potential issues that could crop up.

All in all, I hope that with the start of a new generation everyone will get on board with the “share” feature. If every sports game could get to the point like MLB The Show where you can carryover rosters and franchise saves, we would be in a great place. Because don’t forget, the great thing about MLB The Show is you don’t have to start a roster or your franchise from scratch every year. When a new game comes out each year, that should no longer mean we have to start everything over again. It’s time to modernize this aspect of sports gaming across the board.

25 Comments

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  1. Great work, Chase. Would have liked you to explicitly state the need for virtual portraits for generated players as well as current players, even if that isn't share-feature related. That's really been bugging me since they made franchise worth playing again!
    Qb
    Great work, Chase. Would have liked you to explicitly state the need for virtual portraits for generated players as well as current players, even if that isn't share-feature related. That's really been bugging me since they made franchise worth playing again!

    Hey Oskar, who do you think you are telling me what to put in my article? I'll let Triple H do the talking for me here:
    When somebody goes, 'Well, you just can't get people over with 50/50 booking,' 'Oh, I'm sorry, how's your territory coming?

    :)
    Great job on the article.
    As I have pointed out many times over the years, EA must not realize that by not adding roster share or being able to use current saves on the new edition of the game you are making people really look at the new game with a microscope. To see if the game has improved enough to buy the new game and spend weeks editing rosters or starting careers or franchises over again. Luckily this year sounds like it is worth it but i can't say the same for the other past years. I spend so much time editing rosters that I now wait until the trade deadline rosters to come out before i buy the newest game, just so I am editing the roster with all the rookies in the game. Therefore i never pay full price for the game, but if there was roster sharing i would buy as soon as there was a good roster to download
    Agreed 100%. Would also like the ability to edit attributes during a season like Madden or The Show. That way we can keep up with the ever fluctuating attributes of players instead of having to start a franchise all over when new attributes are released
    I haven't owned a hockey game in decades but I have been getting back into hockey the last couple of years. I was actually ready to purchase NHL 21. The biggest problem with the game is no 31 team setting. I hate how the CPU runs the teams and I like to keep it a little realistic and match the current season. I don't understand why this feature has not made it into NHL 21 either.
    If they give us roster sharing, I’m going to throw a proposal out there:
    Cycloniac, Alkostopolus, Shanster - what do you say we get together and make the best rosters ever? Maybe we can get Shogun too. I’ll reach out to Puckhead from the Revamped days again too.
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports
    LOL... I wouldn't hold your breath its NOT going to happen for HOCKEY anyway..
    Neither is connected GM.. There in no way for EA to make money by adding those features for offline players.
    MICRO TRANSACTIONS are the only revenue stream for any game makers
    The reason roster share is a feature that is going away, not returning, is that it is not a winner for publishers. It makes it easier for gamers to skip years and just use shared rosters.
    Also, the real trend in sports gaming is bringing back competitiveness. For that you need a common baseline everyone uses. Sliders and custom rosters break the game, and make it hard to move gamers from franchise. Things like HUT and Chel work because your success is compared to everyone else's based on the same settings and rosters.
    Tale a look at MLB The Show and look at their downloaded rosters. It's pretty easy to see that even for a game like MLB The Show, the number of people that download custom rosters is just a tiny % of the overall sales. Seriously, they want the roster share guys to just stop playing and pay attention to something else they enjoy more.
    This is not a mystery. And EA would much prefer to lose 5-10% of their base than create a feature that will cost them far more money than the dedicated sim franchise guys can pay.
    Miffy23
    I haven't owned a hockey game in decades but I have been getting back into hockey the last couple of years. I was actually ready to purchase NHL 21. The biggest problem with the game is no 31 team setting. I hate how the CPU runs the teams and I like to keep it a little realistic and match the current season. I don't understand why this feature has not made it into NHL 21 either.

    You can do a 31-team "season mode" with full roster control if you want to just play one season. Unfortunately, no 31-team Franchise Mode which stinks. I'd give EA a stupid amount of money for a hockey title that had a mode like 2k's MyLeague/MyNBA
    HipNotiiC_x
    You can do a 31-team "season mode" with full roster control if you want to just play one season. Unfortunately, no 31-team Franchise Mode which stinks. I'd give EA a stupid amount of money for a hockey title that had a mode like 2k's MyLeague/MyNBA

    I have some questions regarding season mode. Maybe you can answer some of them.
    Are there fluctuating attendance numbers depending on how teams are playing?
    Are there season/career milestones, which the announcers talk about?
    Do they talk about upcoming games, point streaks, and other stuff they mention in franchise mode?
    I'm very interested in controlling all 31 teams, but not if every game just feels like a normal play-now game.
    Sauce12
    I have some questions regarding season mode. Maybe you can answer some of them.
    Are there fluctuating attendance numbers depending on how teams are playing?
    Are there season/career milestones, which the announcers talk about?
    Do they talk about upcoming games, point streaks, and other stuff they mention in franchise mode?
    I'm very interested in controlling all 31 teams, but not if every game just feels like a normal play-now game.

    1. Not sure
    2. Pretty sure they sort of do this (not very well)
    3. Again, I think they have a graphical overlay for upcoming games, but idk if the announcer really "talks about it" because EA presentation is horrible in both NHL and Madden.
    I don't use Season Mode, just know that it exists. I run my own league via excel lol.
    HipNotiiC_x
    1. Not sure
    2. Pretty sure they sort of do this (not very well)
    3. Again, I think they have a graphical overlay for upcoming games, but idk if the announcer really "talks about it" because EA presentation is horrible in both NHL and Madden.
    I don't use Season Mode, just know that it exists. I run my own league via excel lol.

    Thanks, mate! I guess, I'll just give it a try and figure it out.
    As others have stated, they don't include Roster Share anymore because it allows them to do very little actual work each year and just keep releasing basically the same game over and over again with "updated rosters".
    BigBadAss33
    LOL... I wouldn't hold your breath its NOT going to happen for HOCKEY anyway..
    Neither is connected GM.. There in no way for EA to make money by adding those features for offline players.
    MICRO TRANSACTIONS are the only revenue stream for any game makers

    Ok, you say this, complete with obnoxious capitalization, how bout they just charge for it then.
    RosterShare Pack $19.99
    Whatever. I wouldn’t even care.
    scagwi
    As others have stated, they don't include Roster Share anymore because it allows them to do very little actual work each year and just keep releasing basically the same game over and over again with "updated rosters".

    Madden doesn't do anything either and they have roster sharing. NHL has like 15 leagues in the game, it's pretty dumb on their part to NOT let the community take a load off their shoulders and do roster updates for them.
    Bought now NHL 21 from private in used condition Saturday a week ago. Created from my appearance based list exactly 296 CAP‘s ( many new Player which are not in the list too ) with best possible looking appearance, different equipment for Players and Goalies. Changed also many EA Roster Player, some gave beards which should have and also gave different Equipments. EA only use Bauer standard Equipment on the most Player’s . Usualy all CHL Junior Player’s play with CCM equipment. Took me 10 days hard work with 12-14 hours every day to finish. Luckily I was on Holidays.
    Simple Mathematics
    If they give us roster sharing, I’m going to throw a proposal out there:
    Cycloniac, Alkostopolus, Shanster - what do you say we get together and make the best rosters ever? Maybe we can get Shogun too. I’ll reach out to Puckhead from the Revamped days again too.
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports

    I could dig. I miss the editing and sharing rosters. That was one of my favorite parts of last gen. They offer roster share sign me up!
    Control all teams in franchise mode (so you can override stupidity) roster sharing.
    Can't believe EA is still in the stone age with certain things.
    Same on FIFA/NBA live

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