Has The Time Come For A Canadian Football League Video Game?

CFL
The Canadian Football League should have their own console video game for their exciting league. CFL

In its 59 year history, the Canadian Football League has been a league that has been on the peripheral of sports fans in the United States . Many do not know much about the league and when it is on television in the U.S., many think of it as a niche league because of its 110 yard field, orange penalty flags and weird rules.

For the years that the CFL has been a staple in Canadian sports fans hearts (not as much as hockey of course), there has only been two CFL video games ever created. Of the two, only CFL Football ‘99 on the PC featured licensed CFL teams. The game was in 2D and while the idea was there, the execution left a lot to be desired for CFL fans. Since then, there has not been much discussion concerning a CFL video game until recently.

In 2016, there was talk that EA Sports and the CFL were in discussions about possibly making a CFL game using the Madden NFL engine. That news was later walked back by BC Lions team president Dennis Skulsky, despite after excitement from many fans.  

It was announced this week that a small game developer based in Canada called Canuck Play would release Canadian Football 2017 for the Xbox One in June, and the PlayStation 4 and PC at a later date, for $15. While this is good news for CFL fans all over North America , players only have a quick play mode and no CFL license attached to Canadian Football 2017 . That means that there is no season or franchise mode and although there are nine teams that represent Canadian cities, none of the actual teams attached to those cities are in the game.

In an interview with 3downnation, Canuck Play co-founder David Winter believes that the CFL were looking for more from a game developer when it came to creating a game for the league.  

“I was left with the impression that they want someone who is willing to foot the bill for development, cover all of the marketing costs, pay them a royalty and sign over full control of the project,” said Winter in the interview. “They also seemed focused on only working with a brand name studio. Obviously Canuck Play doesn’t (yet) have the name recognition of that other large studios and I think that worked against us.”

The CFL style of play just begs for a game to be created. High scoring, continuous action and a wide open offenses is a staple of the CFL that could easily turn into an exciting video game. The problem will be the marketing for such a game. Look at the releases of the two Arena Football games that were released by EA Sports, Arena Football and Arena Football: Road To Glory . While the gameplay was exciting and was easier to play than Madden , most football fans could not get into the smaller field, narrow field goal uprights and the different rules of Arena Football . The CFL faces many of the issues in gaining traction in the U.S. , especially with the field goal uprights at the front of the endzones.

The time is now for the CFL to begin seriously considering creating their own game. With ESPN airing select CFL games during their regular season along with their Super Bowl, called the Grey Cup, this is the exposure that the CFL could use to begin to get into the consciousness of U.S. sports fans. The best way for fans to get to know your product, especially younger fans, could be to make a game and let fans get familiar with the CFL way of playing through that.

Now is the time for the CFL to put their name on a video game and get into the sports video game market.

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