EA UFC is Missing Some Big Names: Lack of Research, or Greed?
EA’s UFC game signals a number of things both for the sport and the video game industry. The rise of UFC has been staggering, bringing arguably one of the purest sports to the forefront of the mainstream. The deal between EA and the UFC is a sign of how far things have come. EA are re-attempting a challenge that they arguably failed to complete last time around by creating a successful MMA video game.
EA has always maintained that their UFC game will be the most realistic MMA video game ever to hit the market. Their ignite engine was heavily touted throughout all of the UFC game’s promotional material. The visuals look on point, fighters look how you’d expect (for the most part; what did they do to Sonnen’s face?), and they move with a sense of soul. Presentation outside of the fights isn’t a problem. There are, however, a few curious worries floating around the knowledge of the sport displayed by EA and just how ‘real’ the game plays.
EA has done a fairly good job of creating a decent roster of current and past fighters. Most of the ‘big’ names are included, such as Jon Jones, Velasquez, Weidman, Rousey, etc. However, there’s a suspected hole in EA’s research, holes in their rosters that feel more like a result of a lack of research or even true appreciation for a fighter’s history or current role in the brand and sport.
For example, the exclusion of current Bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw feels lazy. While it’s safe to say not many people saw the dethroning of Barao would come at the hands of Dillashaw, it still feels like a huge hole in the games roster. Josh Barnett, currently ranked fifth in the UFC’s heavyweight division, is a HUGE miss from the roster. Not only is Barnett seen as a living legend within the sport, he was the youngest Heavyweight champion in UFC history after knocking out the legend Randy Couture. While the victory was followed by a failed drug test and a stripping of the title. Barnett remains as one of the biggest worldwide stars in the UFC. And yet he’s absent from the game.
Diego Sanchez, known for his crowd-pleasing fights, is also a casualty of EA’s roster choices. While it is true that Sanchez is on the decline, his fight of the year contender with Gilbert Melendez reminded the world why Sanchez is such a fan favorite. Another fighter missing from the game, but far from missing in the hearts of the fans, is Matt ‘The Immortal’ Brown. Currently on a six-fight winning streak and on his way to a title shot, Brown has become something of a people’s darling. His exclusion from the game’s roster could be a result of Brown featuring on the UFC’s cards on Fox, rather than Pay-Per-Views. Either way it’s an ignorant choice not to include him in the game.
EA seem to not have much time for the the current Welterweight division. Hector Lombard is a fighter that boasts speed, power and technique, resulting in fights that get people talking. As he closes in on a title shot, EA has seemingly looked past him in the same way they looked past the aforementioned Brown, Tyron Woodley, Dong Hyun Kim and Erik Silva. Would it kill EA to pay attention to the currently stacked Welterweight picture?
It seems EA just don’t like people in title shot pictures. Stipe Miocic is tearing up the Heavyweight division and closing in on Velasquez, a highly ranked fighter, yet he’s not featured in the game. Ali Bagautinov is currently riding an eleven-fight win streak, resulting in his bout for the flyweight title against Demetrious Johnson at the upcoming UFC 174. His crisp striking, imperious Sambo wrestling, and never-ending cardio result in all of his bouts being pleasing to the eye. This apparently isn’t good enough to see him entered into EA’s début UFC game, however.
EA either struggled to do their research or fell under the impression that including as many US fighters as they could would result in success. The exclusions are made even stranger when you see the likes of Darren Uyenoyama, Louis Gaudinot, Pat Berry (who ditched MMA to compete in Glory’s kickboxing) and both of the sorta/kinda retired Diaz brothers have all made it into the game’s final roster.
This part is all speculation, but given past business practices it feels relevant. No doubt EA will use these exclusions to throw out DLC that will have the fans ready and waiting to purchase. While it is a ‘good business plan’ it’s slightly alarming that EA would be willing to not include major names in the pursuit of a cheap buck. Let’s just hope that EA did do the research and that the lack of European fighters is just a coincidence.