No Next-Gen NHL 21 as Release Window Pushed to October

No Next-Gen NHL 21 as Release Window Pushed to October

The Chel team is relying on "forward compatibility" for PS5 and Xbox Series X.

We're nearing the time of year where the annual lineup of sports games arrives, which includes EA's NHL series. But for NHL 21, Electronic Arts and the Chel Team will be staying on the current generation, at least for now.

In an update posted today on the EA NHL site, the NHL (or Chel) team announced that NHL 21 will be arriving a little later in the year than usual. Rather than September, the team is targeting an October launch window, as the transition to developing from home has added the need for a few extra weeks of polish.

That's not too surprising, and there's even a tease for a first look sometime in late August. But further on, the NHL team confirms that this next entry in the hockey series is focusing on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game.

"For NHL 21, we made the decision to focus on adding innovation and new features rather than the resource-heavy task of porting the game to new console technology," the statement reads. The team notes that NHL 21 should still be playable on next-gen consoles through "forward compatibility," but the focus will be on Xbox One and PS4.

This mirrors the approach taken by another EA Sports franchise, EA Sports UFC 4, which is also launching only on current-gen consoles. But while UFC and NHL are relying on compatibility, both Madden and FIFA have next-gen versions already locked in. It's a strange disparity between the different sports franchises at EA.

As our Editor-in-Chief Kat Bailey noted, NHL 14 also skipped the launch of a console generation. The following year, NHL 15's next-gen debut fell short of the mark, making cuts to the franchise that set it back. Hopefully NHL 22 doesn't fall prey to the same issues.

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Eric Van Allen

News Editor

Eric is a writer and Texan. He's a former contributor to sites including Compete, Polygon, Waypoint, and the Washington Post. He loves competitive games, live music, and travel.

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