My eyes lit up when Puck Daddy revealed that the next edition of EA Sports' NHL franchise would include some pretty cool new features, including the Winter Classic. With the news breaking earlier this month that the Flyers will host the 2012 Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park, I hoped CBP would get the digital treatment.
Unfortunately, the timing of the game development and Winter Classic plan finalization may make that an impossibility. Kevin McGuire, who covers Penn State game days for us here at the Level, says the only current plans for the Winter Classic in NHL 12 are for Heinz Field in Pittsburgh (last year's host). [Check out Kevin's story at Examiner.com, which has more on the logistics of adding a baseball stadium to a gaming group that doesn't have an MLB franchise.]
I guess it's possible CBP will be added in an update, but for now, with the game already deep in development, Heinz Field is all that will be included initially.
This may sound a little fickle, but not being a huge gamer, the inclusion of Citizens Bank Park is a major factor in my decision to buy in NHL 12. I have NHL 10, but skipped NHL 11 and don't really play all that much. Having the Flyers and Rangers skating under the bell and the big score board would have sold me in an instant. (Obviously I don't expect EA to make decisions based on my weak buying patterns…)
The addition of the Philadelphia Union to FIFA 11 was a selling point for me, but I was pretty disappointed to see their gorgeous home stadium not be represented yet. Unique elements like that are a big reason I like the new sports games, ranking right up there with the increasingly realistic pace of game play. Here's hoping PPL Park makes FIFA 12 and EA finds a way to digitize Citizens Bank Park sooner rather than later.