Earlier this week EA SPORTS hosted a NHL 19 pre-launch event in Stockholm where invited guests got the opportunity to play the game before the upcoming release. This time it was me being lucky to attend at the event during the NHL 19 Producers Tour. Other NHLGamers attending were @The_Alpha_Furyan, @Darkic01 and @PillenUpp.
I got the chance to interview the lead producer of the NHL Franchise, Sean Ramjagsingh. First off, I took the time to tell him that me and many others enjoyed the NHL 19 Beta a lot. I gave them credit for the skating in the game and for making the bots less overpowered.
"Yeah, I agree. The bot stuff is mostly based on feedback from our fans. We started to change the behaviour of the bots when people played super conservative letting the bots do all the work. So we knew we had to make them more balanced", Ramjagsingh responded to NHLGamer.com at the NHL 19 event in Stockholm. Continue reading for the entire interview!
Esdor: "How are EA going to promote NHL as an esport in the future?"
Ramjagsingh: "We are still relatively new in the world of competitive gaming. We are pushing forward with Madden and FIFA right now but we took our first step this year with the World Gaming Championship. The NHL was in charge of that. This first tournament was mainly about testing and learning for us about how to host a big event. We got great feedback from the players participating. We got a feeling for the appetite of competitive gaming within the NHL Community. We were able to launch it in multiple different territories in North America and Europe as well. We got loads of feedback from the fans about what they want to see, what modes we should be using. Versus, Hockey Ultimate Team or EA SPORTS Hockey League. Now we will put our heads together with the NHL to figure out what is next."
Esdor: "Is there an option to have one tournament in Versus and one in EASHL for example?"
Ramjagsingh: "It's a great question. Tbd (to be determined) is probably the answer right now. We are still trying to figure out what our plan is moving forward. I think we saw great success with the individual versus experience, but when you look at what our community wants right now we see a lot of our core players asking for 6v6. When there are no bots involved, it's truly skill versus skill in that mode. We take all that into consideration as we build up our plans for the future."
Esdor: "Have you considered hosting a tournament at an event like Dreamhack?"
Ramjagsingh: "Tournaments is something that we look at when we decide about our competitive gaming strategy. All kind of tournaments kind of fall under competitive gaming - not only the World Gaming Championship -, but also smaller community tournaments, and tournaments for casual players as well."
Esdor: "Will there be a challenge team option for playing 3v3 games in EASHL?"
Ramjagsingh: "We are working on that right now. It's not there when the game is released, but it's on our roadmap for the upcoming months."
Esdor: "Will the division packs be better this year in HUT?"
Ramjagsingh: "We actually started fresh this year with a lot of our economy redesigned, and pack contents are a part of that. This year we are starting our players much much lower so there is more room to grow. We have reworked the content that is in all of our packs. So you can essentially get any of our best players from any pack available."
Esdor: "Will you make it easier to apply many contracts at the same time in HUT?"
Ramjagsingh: "We made some improvements there as well, to the contracts and the healing cards."
Esdor: "Am I able to do giveaways as a streamer?"
Ramjagsingh: "Giveaways are tbd. I don't have the latest information on that to let you know. I'm not sure where we stand at the moment when it comes to giveaways. The piece that we got to be careful is about the trades. Because people will exploit stuff if they can. It's not necessarily the streamers doing giveaways we want to find, it's more about the guys that abuse the system that we need to be careful with."
Esdor: "Are wager matches possibly coming back again in the future?"
Ramjagsingh: "No. We still stand by that - it's the gambling part of it that we want to stay away from."
Esdor: "Have you thought about adding a logic that kicks idle players from HUT and Versus games?"
Ramjagsingh: "We get that question a lot. Definitely something that we are looking at. We have been talking about players going idle in all different game modes, not just for Hockey Ultimate Team."
Esdor: "Will you be able to see your opponents username before starting a match?"
Ramjagsingh: "Yes you will. It's a challenge for us to make it work when people are dodging so much. People want to pick and choose their spots in some kind of try to maximize their time playing the game without taking losses. What we have done though is improving the matchmaking system. So hopefully you will get matched with someone that is at a similar skill level."
Esdor: "What about cross-play between consoles when it comes to NHL?"
Ramjagsingh: "That is up to Sony and Microsoft to decide. We are starting to see games like Fortnite making cross-platform possible, but that is a bigger conversation with our first party partners and not something that we can change on our own."
Esdor: "Why is NHL not using the Frostbite engine like FIFA and Madden?"
Ramjagsingh: "We will get there eventually. Moving over to Frostbite is almost like a console transition. It's a massive technology change. We are able to learn from FIFA and their transition to Frostbite, so we can have a smoother journey when we move over to Frostbite too. From a company perspective it's our one engine strategy, so it's just a matter of time. Now we are laying the ground work so we can hopefully get there in the near future."
Esdor: "Why is there no feature that allows you to play a league together with your online friends?"
Ramjagsingh: "It's something that we have heard from a lot of our fans actually, asking for tournaments or a feature where you can set up a league that track stats and things like that. This is something that we have on our to do list but there is no ETA (estimated time of arrival) yet. It is definitely something that we are looking into in the future."
Esdor: "How come you can't take a timeout without going into the menus?"
Ramjagsingh: "We are out of buttons, that is the main reason. There is not a faster way for us to do that. It's not ideal but we are just out of buttons."
That's it from Stockholm, but stay tuned for our coverage from Helsinki, which should be dropping in the next few days!