Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Doug Miller on 08/27/11 at 02:00 PM ET
Yesterday, shortly before 5PM EST, I got an email from EA Sports in my inbox. It was to let me know that my 3 day early access download for Madden NFL 12 had been released and was ready for download as a part of my subscription to EA Sports Season Ticket program. Although the release time for this, including NHL 12 and other future games that support the new Season Ticket plan, is supposed to be 6PM EST. As I had suspected, somehow my time-zone had never gotten properly set on my Google account, in fact it was way off, but even after I had made the proper adjustment, it still appears that this time-stamp on that email was indeed correct.
UPDATE - 12:20 PM Also, just found some info about an Xbox 360 store in Toronto that has an extended demo of NHL 12 available for play, more info at the bottom of this post!
There is more to this story obviously, so continue reading for the rest of the information I’ve figured out since then.
So aside from the fact that this 6PM rule doesn’t appear to be set in stone, and if anything it seems that those of us with EA’s Season Ticket, might get access to NHL 12 about an hour earlier than is expected, unlike the in the case of the game demo, which was finally released about an hour later than was expected, at 6AM as opposed to 5AM in that case. Although, this does make some sense on EA’s part, considering this download will be quite large, in the case of Madden, it’s 4.72 GB, and will likely take even those of us with the best of internet connections, over an hour to download. I expect the same to be the case with NHL 12, but the download should go faster in general, due to smaller fan-base not flooding the download severs as much as Madden likely did.
Anyway, the only reason I even bothered to check into the Madden download was because I wanted to see if I was going to have to pay for my NHL 12 download as a regular charge to my account, as is usually the case with full Xbox 360 game downloads via the Games Marketplace, or by some equivalent amount of Microsoft Points, which by my calculations would be around 4800 - 5000, given included sales tax. However, I was surprised to see that this download was labeled as “free”. I instantly knew something wasn’t right. Had EA and Microsoft somehow made a huge mistake in their system? The download just sat as “pending” for quite some time, but then it slowly started going, and I just wanted to see if it was going to work.
Since I was unable to kill time by playing the NHL 12 demo while my massive download finished up, because playing a game while connected to Xbox Live stops all current downloads, even in the case of game demos apparently. So I just took a quick nap instead. After I woke up, my download was still only around 64% done, at which point I figured I’d better look more into this “free” download. As apparently I missed a major detail when I reported some info about how EA’s Season Ticket benefits would apply to NHL 12 a little while ago.
As I was under the impression that this download would be of the full retail version of the game, which it is. However, after some further investigation on EA’s Season Ticket website, I have sorted out the confusion about this issue. So here is the deal with the whole “3 Day Early Access” part of the Season Ticket package.
NHL 12, like all the other games supporting the Season Ticket package, will be available early to those who have a subscription EA’s Season Ticket, which does cost $25 per year. This early access download is free though, and will be available from September 9 at about 6PM EST (or an hour before), and will expire on September 13 at 6AM. Which means that your free download of the game will no longer work after the expiration time has passed. There are a few other catches as well. In the case of Madden, you will still have access to all the online features in the early access download, with the exception of all downloadable content and Ultimate Team. Because for these you will need the EA Online Pass for the game, which comes included for free with the retail copy of the game.
I suspect the very same will be true of NHL 12, with the only question being, will the EASHL be fully available? My guess would be yes, since Madden’s new “Online Communities” feature is fully functional in the early release, and is essentially the exact same thing as NHL’s EASHL Clubs, with a few minor differences. As Madden does not utilize online created players, and likely never will. Another difference being that these online communities also feature customizable rule sets, that can differ from group to group. Which makes it impossible to have an kind of standardized league like the EASHL. There are other differences too, but there is really no need for further comparison. Based on this, it looks like the EASHL will be fully functional in the early release of NHL 12 for Season Ticket members. Except that you won’t be able to purchase any DLC boosts for your pro, as they will have to be unlocked the old fashioned way, since the “no DLC” rule will likely applyl to NHL 12’s early release as well. The same will likely go for Hockey Ultimate Team, based on what I’ve seen with Madden’s early release limitations.
One of the other few limitations, is that you won’t be able to fully unlock achievements in the early access download. However, you can still earn them, you just have no idea what they are, as in Madden, at the end of a game, if you’ve earned an achievement, it will just say “Achievement Earned - Early Release” with the little EA Sports Season Ticket icon next to it. This pop up looks very different than the standard “achievement unlocked” most of us are used to seeing that is build into the 360’s notifications system. However, they will fully unlock, and show up on your account after you have purchased the retail copy of the game, and have logged into EA’s serves with your EA Online Pass that comes with the retail copy of the game.
I should also note, that according to EA, to earn achievements in the early access download of the game, you have to be logged into Xbox Live and EA’s servers when playing, my guess is because they have to track these things to your gamertag, since the game does not show up in your recent games list, nor your achievements list, as in the case of Madden, when you go to launch if from the game library, it’s labeled “Madden12EarlyRelease”. However any and all saved files are still stored on your hard drive or other storage device, so you can pick up right where you left off when you continue playing with the retail copy.
Also, in the case of NHL 12, with certain achievements being tied into unlocking Legends, such as the “Gordie Howe Hat-Trick” that will likely either directly unlock Mr. Hockey himself, or be a part of the process of unlocking him, as these questions about unlocking Legends still remain somewhat unclear at the moment. I’d imagine that if you do manage to unlock a Legend in the early access download, they will still be there when you continue playing in your retail copy of the game, just like everything else you have done thus far. You just won’t be able to officially unlock your achievements from the early access download, until you continue playing the retail version of the game, which isn’t really a big deal at in my opinion.
Anyway, I just thought all of this was worth pointing out, for those of you who might have a subscription to EA’s Season Ticket for one reason or another, you will get a free, and early 3 day trial of NHL 12, in case the excellent game demo hasn’t already convinced you that the game is worth buying. Plus, the same is true of Madden, and all other applicable games. Which is nice for me, since I get to mess around will a full version of Madden 12 if I choose to, even though I have no intention of ever buying the retail copy of the game.
Just a quick reminder to those of you out there planning to pick up NHL 12, even though I already covered this (see the above link about my initial Season Ticket report). I think EA’s Season Ticket is a pretty good deal for $25, considering all of what you get with it. Although it really depends on what game modes you spend your time playing, as it really appeals more to the online players, especially those who play a ton of EASHL and HUT. Here is the rundown of the benefits included with the Season Ticket as it pertains to NHL 12.
3 Day Early Access Free Download -. You get to download the full version of the game, starting on September 9 at 6PM EST - although as I pointed out in this post, Madden was released for download about an hour early, which is fine, since you’re looking at very large file size anyway. This early access lasts until the release date of September 13th at 6AM EST.
20% Discount on All Downloadable Content - This includes all Be a Pro and EASHL skater/goalie boosts slots, equipment bonuses, and player-type specific boot packs. As well as all HUT card pack purchases. Note that this is likely not a 20% discount on the amount of EA Pucks you would need to buy card packs, but 20% off the Microsoft Points needed to buy a pack, and those points have to be purchased with real money.
Free Premium Web Content - What exactly this will be as it pertains to NHL 12 remains unknown. All that is known right now is that it will apply to 5 premium packs that are available for $7.99 each in FIFA 12 Creation Centre. However, these will be free to Season Ticket subscribers, with is about $40 dollars worth of content for $25 right there. However, EA has stated that all of the franchises that have Season Ticket benefits will have premium web content of some kind following FIFA 12’s release on September 26. I suspect we will see a similar value in savings for each game’s free premium web content.
As for what kind of premium web content there could be for NHL 12? I can only speculate for now. However I could imagine the possibilities of an advanced online uniform editor for custom uniforms, that would allow you to upload your own custom images, for logos and patches, as well as allow for a larger variety of designs for custom uniforms for use in EASHL Clubs. There could also be several other similar online premium web features, such as a more advanced Be a Pro player editor, which might allow for far greater customization of your created Pro. Which could even include the possibility of uploading high resolution images of your face from various angles to be applied over a customizable “blank” head, allowing for you to be as close to being “in the game” as possible. I also wouldn’t rule out the idea of something the community has been begging for, aside from the two things I just mentioned… fully customizable goaltender masks. Which could also potentially feature your own uploaded images, as this would also have to be an online thing as well, due to the complexity involved. Don’t overlook the idea of a custom arena editor either, for both your HUT team and EASHL Club, as well as for further offline/community use, as other premium users who have access to this proposed arena editor might be able to download them into their own game. I wouldn’t rule any of these ideas out, as there will likely be even more online premium web content than this, but I have the feeling this is the kind of stuff they might be thinking about, given the community’s demand for such features over the years.
Exclusive Membership Badge - Not exactly the coolest of the Season Ticket benefits, as this is just a little icon that will appear next to your gamertag both on the EA Sports website, as well as in the online leaderboards and in-game lobbies.
Personally, I chose to get the Season Ticket for two main reasons. The first being as back-up plan assuming that for some reason I never get my early review-copy of NHL 12 from EA. Although with my special assignment of covering the Red Wings HockeyFest on September 10, I really hope that I do get that review copy within the next week. Otherwise I cannot guarantee that I will have my full-review of the game ready by release date as I would like to. Although the early access from the Season Ticket will give me a bit of a head start if the worst case scenario does happen.
The second reason being that I almost always play goaltender in the EASHL, and I could argue endlessly that stat ratings are more important for a goaltender than any other position in the EASHL. Plus, with skater and goalie player rank progression now finally being separate this year, as they always should have been, it will take a lot more skill and work to actually earn the new Legend 3 goaltender rank, as people can no longer “cheat” by earning their Legend skater card, and then applying all of that XP to their goalie, which means that quality human goaltenders will be much rarer in the EASHL in NHL 12.
So I’m going to need all the help I can get early on with the use of boost slots and equipment bonuses, which were going to get purchased anyway, and all of those things combined costs a good chunk of change. That of which I have already been saving up for in preparation for NHL 12, so that overall 20% discount is going to be huge in terms of saving me money in buying all of the slots and equipment boosts I will need. As they will be of a tremendous help while working my way up the rank progression to eventually be able to compete at the high levels of the Elite Division of the EASHL, which is what I am used to and enjoy. As well as what I’m sure will be a much more tightly contested goaltender leaderboard this year with the change of splitting up rank progression between skaters and goalies.
Update: Just found this little tidbit before I was about to get some sleep, as I was up all night messing around with Madden and writing this blog post. Anyway, apparently there is an Xbox 360 store in Toronto that has an extended demo of NHL 12 featuring all 30 teams. This was posted on EA’s NHL 12 forums, and the guy who made the post made note of several updated player ratings, so it’s an interesting read.
Nice to see Datsyuk at a 93 overall now. Hopefully this means they finally update his insultingly underrated stick checking stat, which effects stick lifts. Now if only I had a passport of one of those new state IDs, then I’d totally plan a trip out there to get my hands on this extended demo at the moment.
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