When EA Sports released NHL 09 its biggest innovation that year was the creation of the EA Sports Hockey League, an online component that allowed you and up to five friends to play as a team against either the CPU or other teams made up of players from all over the world.
For NHL 13, set to be released on Sept. 11, EA Sports has taken that technology and brought it to the ever popular Be-a-GM mode with GM Connected. This addition to NHL 13 will allow players from all over the world to manage their own teams in an online environment. We spoke with NHL 13 producers Andy Agostini and Sean Ramjagsingh this week to get a better understanding of this innovative option to play the game.
The amount of players that can be involved in GM Connected is astounding. Up to 30 players can own a team and from there you can have 24 friends on your roster. Like the EASHL, you can then have up to five friends join you in a league game bringing the total number of players able to participate in GM Connected to 750.
There are five ways to play GM Connected in NHL 13:
• Against the CPU
• Against a human GM where the game counts toward your league
• Co-op up to 6-on-6 against either the CPU or a human GM with stats counting toward your league
• Build Your A.I.: If you're unable to make it to a scheduled game against another GM you're able to create a team-based strategies file and upload it, allowing the CPU to play for you following your instructions.
• Be the coach. You'll watch the game from behind the bench (picture the view from Be-a-Pro mode) and order team strategies and line changes with the push of a button.
Each league will have a commissioner who will create a weekly schedule lasting between 3 and 14 days where all games must be completed in that time frame. Any incomplete games will automatically be simmed. Trades must also be approved by the commissioner to make sure the league is running fairly. If any shenanigans are going on in the league or there's a player who's a problem, the commissioner has the power to kick them out and recruit someone new to take their place. Should a commissioner do a poor job of running a league, the GMs are able to vote them out and bring in someone fresh.
As part of GM Connected and offline Be-a-GM mode, in NHL 13, the lopsided trade will be gone. EA's new GM Brain will allow CPU teams to think of trade offers in regards to their team's goals. A team with plenty of young players. Would adding Rick Nash to the Edmonton Oilers be a smart move with all of their young players? Would a Stanley Cup-contending team trade for future prospects at the deadline? No, they'd want one or two more NHL-level pieces to help make a playoff push. These are all things the A.I. will evaluate when it comes to making trades. You're also able to trade a friend to another team within your GM Connected league.
Like a regular fantasy sports league, GM Connected will allow you to, well, keep you connected at all times to what's going on in the league via a mobile app. You'll be able to see live transactions and scores as they happen, check stats, standings, schedules and make and ponder trade offers and free agent signings all from your phone. You can also send messages directly to either the league or one of the other GMs.
In the coming weeks EA will reveal the date of when the NHL 13 demo will be released, as well as further details on Be-a-Pro/EASHL modes and what new Legends will be in the game this year.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy