Rinse, wash, repeat.
This has seemingly been the motto for so many sports video game titles over the last few years. While fans still buy the new edition of each game annually and play them religiously, it isn’t without some begrudging feelings as there seems to be such little innovation on a yearly basis.
The games, though still fun and entertaining, are intended to be hyper-realistic – succeeding in some areas and failing in others. For games that often pride themselves on being authentic to reality, there are countless examples of these games failing to hit the mark.
But what would happen if a competitor stepped in, broke down the walls between sports – and leagues, and brought an over-the-top, arcade-style sports title that could provide hours of fun for players of any skill-range?
This is where Ultimate Rivals: The Rink comes into play.
A New Video Game Franchise for Sports Fans
A new game created and released by Bit Fry Game Studios and part of the Ultimate Rivals franchise, Ultimate Rivals: The Rink is set to innovate the entire world of sports video games and pave the way for even more games in the franchise moving forward.
A two-vs-two hockey game featuring over 30 NHL stars including Alex Ovechkin, Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, P.K. Subban and Wayne Gretzky, Ultimate Rivals: The Rink also features athletes from other leagues like LeBron James, Mike Trout, Alex Morgan, Clayton Kershaw, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Mookie Betts, James Harden, Zion Williamson, JJ Watt and many more.
In Ultimate Rivals: The Rink, players can play and win against AI or compete against other players online in multiplayer matches.
Bit Fry is the very first company to create an officially licensed sports gaming franchise that isn’t limited to just one sports or one league. Securing licensing agreements with the NHL, NHLPA, NBA, NBAPA, MLB, MLBPA, NFLPA, the Women’s National Basketball Players Association, USWNTPA and Wayne Gretzky, Bit Fry is on course to change the world of sports games forever.
“We are ripping up the sports video game rule book and re-writing it for a new generation. We’re starting with the gamer first and empowering their imagination to create the ultimate team of athletes across sports, in a way only they can envision,” said Ben Freidlin, CEO and founder of Bit Fry Game Studios, Inc. and the creator of “Ultimate Rivals.”
The trailer for the game can be seen below:
How Bit Fry Secured Licensing for Ultimate Rivals: The Rink
As is to be expected, securing these licensing agreements wasn’t an easy task, but Bit Fry co-founder and former MLB player Todd Zeile was gracious enough to share some insight on what the game is and how the process took place.
When asked about whether or not his playing experience in MLB was an asset in securing the licensing for some of these leagues, players’ associations and athletes, Zeile had the following to say:
When I finished baseball I had played for a lot of teams for quite a few years, but I was also a part of the licensing committee as a player rep for a number of those years too. So I had a feel for licensing, I had relationships in licensing.
When our founder and CEO Ben Freidlin contacted me through a mutual friend, at that time it was an early iteration of a baseball-only game that he was building and he was looking for some voice over talent that I had connectivity to.
We started talking about some of the things that were part of his vision and that’s where I originally got hooked into it thinking ‘hey, I think I can be helpful because this sounds like licensed sports games.’
I had relationships still, certainly in MLB, and people like for example Don Fehr who ran the MLB Players’ Association for so many years and moved onto the NHL Players’ Association, he remains a good friend and he’s been a good contact for us.
So one thing led to another and the dominoes fell in place for Ben and I to go in, tell the story, create some sort of a vision for the licensors and get them on board to support this multi-sport, cross-over, heavily-licensed video game.Todd Zeile – Bit Fry
Ultimate Rivals Franchise Coming to Console in the Future
While the game is currently available on Apple Arcade, the original franchise was designed to go on console first and mobile second. Zeile would mention that these games will still launch of consoles in the future.
This was the ultimate goal from the beginning and it’s something that Zeile was sure to elaborate on.
“We were not originally designed to go mobile first by any stretch of the imagination. Mobile was a part of the road-map but was a secondary part of the game plan. We were really built for console and you will see us still on console.”
The Ultimate Rivals franchise is aiming to re-capture the feel of old-school video games that captivated an audience back in the 1990s. This and the fact that Bit Fry is aiming to focus on the athletes in the game than the teams themselves was helpful in securing licensing.
The licensors supported us with the differentiation in the sense that, all of the sports video game market had really geared itself towards [simulation] and much more technically-advanced, but slower, realistic looking game play.
We said ‘hey, we think there’s a market for the arcade action-games of the ’90s. It’s going to be over-the-top. We want to highlight the athletes in the game and not just the teams that they’re playing for or the leagues that they’re playing in and be able to create a universe for our athletes to be sort of superheroes to show off their prowess and their attributes all across sports.
They really bought into that concept and that allowed for them to them think a little more outside the box.Todd Zeile – Bit Fry
Fans of specific sports may not know stars across various leagues but Ultimate Rivals will do a good job at promoting these players and their individual brands to audiences that may not have known about them otherwise.
Picture, for a second, a game of hockey with LeBron James and Alex Ovechkin skating down the ice as teammates against a team of Alex Morgan and Mike Trout.
The possibilities are endless.
Characters within the game are all balanced to reflect their real-life counterparts as well. Someone like Morgan will be faster than a character like Zion Williamson, but Williamson will undoubtedly be stronger than most characters.
With plans to expand to the basketball court next with “Ultimate Rivals: The Court” and many more games on the horizon, Ultimate Rivals has the potential to revolutionize the entire landscape of sports video games.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for six years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.