Despite reports to the contrary earlier this month, The East Carolinian has confirmed that EA Sports’ “NCAA Football 13” will be the first video game to include Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium’s “Boneyard” student section.
ECU message boards ignited with a firestorm of dismay on April 6, when the sports gaming website OperationSports.com published an interview with “NCAA Football 13” designer Christian McLeod and producer Ben Haumiller regarding the game.
In the interview, McLeod and Haumiller produced a list of 15 schools that received stadium changes in ‘NCAA 13’ — two that got brand-new stadiums and 13 that received significant renovations.
But ECU was not on that list, which infuriated Pirate fans who had already seen the stadium’s expansion seemingly shunned in the 2012 version of the wildly popular video game prompting some to proclaim they would not buy the game when it hits stores.
But in an email to The East Carolinian, Haumiller said that Pirate Nation should not fret, because the Boneyard is coming to their gaming consoles this July.
“Yes, the ECU stadium renovation for Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium will be included in ‘NCAA Football 13,’ closing off the end zone and adding the ‘Boneyard’ student section,” he said.
EA Sports did not, however, comment on why Dowdy-Ficklen was omitted from the initial list of renovated stadiums.
Pirate Nation’s furor over the prospect of the Boneyard’s potential omission from “NCAA 13” was reminiscent of that from a year ago, when ECU fans were stunned to see that the 7,000-seat end zone enclosure, which was constructed and opened in 2010, was not in “NCAA 12.”
Lee Workman, associate athletics director for administration, said he understands why people were upset at the Boneyard’s absence from “NCAA 12” and possible absence from “NCAA 13,” but that most people underestimate the time it takes to get things right.
“The thing about licensing that people don’t know is that most things have a lead time of about eight to 12 months,” Workman said. “Obviously, with EA Sports, they have a lot to get right and a lot of things to do, so they need a good amount of time.”
Workman said that for the “NCAA 12” game, which was released in July 2011, EA Sports inquired about the Boneyard in June 2010, before the expansion was even completed, which made it impossible to get the new section included in the game.
Haumiller said EA Sports operates in this way not only to make it easier for its design and production crew to put the game together, but also to provide the most accurate portrayal of stadiums for gamers and fans.
“When it comes to renovations, expansions and new stadiums, it is our policy to wait until the work is complete on the stadium before making updates in the game,” he said. “In previous years, we have made updates based on concept drawings only to have to go back and do another update to the stadium based on what actually was done.”
ECU’s video game depiction has gone through some changes in the last couple of years. “NCAA 12” was the first game to feature the updated version of ECU’s mascot, Pee Dee the Pirate, who was changed to his current wide-smiling form.
Now, Dowdy-Ficklen gets a facelift for the newest version of EA Sports’ college football simulation. But while ECU’s home field will be updated in “NCAA 13,” another hot-button topic among ECU football fans was not.
The helmets on this year’s game will not be the helmets the Pirates wore for the entirety of the 2011 season, which bore a skull and crossbones. Instead, the Pirates’ former helmets, emblazoned with the gold ECU logo with a sword underneath, will be seen.
Holly Wyche, athletics administrative assistant for licensing, said that decision was based on two reasons: the switch to the new helmets happened after ECU had already approved the old helmets for “NCAA 13,” and the fact that no decision has been made yet regarding whether the Pirates will wear those helmets full-time in 2012.
Wyche did say, however, that if the decision is made to stick with the skull-and-crossbones helmets, EA Sports has said the in-game helmets could possibly be changed before “NCAA 13” is released.
“They are really good about working with us and trying hard to get everything as correct and as up-to-date as they can,” she said.
And the partnership between EA Sports and ECU continues to be mutually beneficial. “EA Sports is a great partner for East Carolina,” Workman added. “They’re so good at what they do and we’re happy to be on the game and be a part of it.”
Pirate fans can finally experience the Boneyard’s addition when “NCAA Football 13” hits stores July 10.