A couple of months before NHL Hockey was due to hit stores, [NHL Hockey producer] Brook was at the Stanley Cup Finals in Pittsburgh to show off his soon-to-be-released game. The NHL provided him with a couple of large television monitors and set them up in the arena’s hospitality center for what amounted to a public unveiling of NHL Hockey to players on hand, assorted bigwigs and members of the media.
‘It looks so real!’
‘This is the best hockey game I’ve ever played!’
For most of the evening, that’s all Brook heard. EA had done it again. As if this wasn’t enough, John Ziegler – the NHL’s commissioner – was sitting only one table away, hearing each and every compliment. The producer from EA was floating on cloud nine – until a nearby exclamation rained on his parade.
‘I just got Gretzky in a fight!’
Brook felt the force of the sucker punch. It took a second for the rest of the room to register the statement. As it sunk in, VIPs gathered around the monitor to watch Wayne Gretzky, the face of the NHL, get into a fistfight with an opposing player. And as the pixelated version of hockey’s greatest player spilled blood onto the ice, everyone’s eyes darted to John Ziegler, anxious to gauge the commissioner’s reaction.
In the moment, Ziegler played it close to his chest, but afterwards he was furious. Fighting had always been part of the sport – a means for players to police themselves – but it had recently become such a hot-button issue that the league had considered banning it once and for all. The last thing the league wanted was a videogame that glorified fighting. And in real hockey, it was only the enforcers who fought with one another, so why the hell did this videogame allow for Wayne Gretzky to get beaten up? Under no circumstances should that face be bloodied, bruised or rendered black and blue. This was unacceptable, a deal-breaker, and so the NHL demanded that EA remove the feature.
Ever wonder what caused NHLPA 93 not to have team licenses? That was it.
There are so many good anecdotes like this in here. It’s long, but grab a beer tonight and read the full thing.
via Daring Fireball