Saturday, April 19, 2014

Do Sports Games Need More Competition?

Sports games, nowadays, seem to be lacking the competition they once had with each other. Whether it is football, basketball, or baseball, it seems as if there is less competition each year. Is this a good thing or bad thing? Well... that all depends on which sport we are talking about. Since Madden bought the exclusive NFL license, the people have complained that they seem to be just marginally improving each year. However, it seems as if not just Madden is lacking any competition. For this study we are going to look at each sport individually and compare all of the games available for it.

Since MLB: The Show 14 was just released, it seems like baseball is the best sport to start out with. First off, let us flashback to the 90's when baseball games were aplenty. World Series Baseball, Triple Play, Ken Griffey Jr, All Star Baseball, and MLB were just some of the available titles you had available. Whether you wanted to play on a console or PC, there was a game for you. Flash forward now to 2014 and here we sit with only MLB: The Show 14 available on PS3, PS4, and PS Vita. What about Xbox, Wii U, 3DS, and PC owners? It looks as if they are out of luck. MLB: The Show began in in 2005 and consequentially was the year after EA stopped making baseball games. Slowly, as the PS3 and Xbox 360 generation progressed, the games available for baseball dwindled to just The Show and MLB 2K. While MLB 2K had a pretty good product, it was nothing in comparison to the superior MLB: The Show. 2014 is the first year where The Show is the only major MLB game available. Not many PlayStation owners will be sad about this since the The Show has shown to be a superior game for quite some time now. However, there is some worry among the baseball masses. Since they now lack competition, with no one looking to make any other MLB game anytime soon, will The Show put themselves on cruise control? This has been the case for Madden for some time now but, we will talk about that later. For now we will just have to wait and see...

This is another sport that used to have a TON of games available on the consoles and even PC. Once again, back in the 90's and 00's plenty of basketball games were available. NBA Jam, Bull vs (insert team name here) and the NBA playoffs, NBA Showdown, NBA Live, NBA Hangtime, NBA In The Zone, NBA Shootout, Kobe Bryant Courtside, NBA Street, ESPN NBA 2Night, NBA Inside Drive, and the list goes on and on. Now we are down to NBA 2K and NBA Live (who just made a mediocre comeback). For the past few years it has been an NBA 2K monopoly and they didn't even need to secure an exclusive NBA license. The reality is that now the only legitimate NBA game to play is NBA 2K on Xbox, PlayStation, and Wii U systems (sorry PC). While NBA 2K has been superior and seems to make a good jump in quality year after year, I am secretly glad NBA Live is back. This may have been just me but, It felt like NBA 2K had been making less gameplay strides since NBA Live departed rom the basketball scene. Now with Live back in play, despite how bad it is, NBA 2K needs to show us why it is the better game to earn our hard earned cash. Do not get me wrong when I say this. I really find NBA 2K to be fantastic, but in this case I would like to see Live bring something new to the table and have 2K adapt. Heck, would it be so bad if Live actually put out a better game one year just to make NBA 2K really work?

Here we are with the sport that many are in a sour mode over when it comes to console gaming. However, in this case it is a lot easier to explain and see. Up until the 2005 version of NFL games were released, you had a few options to choose from. NFL 2K came out of nowhere when they released NFL 2K5 for only 20 dollars. Most games that are released in that price range are typically not that good. However, in NFL 2K's case, they released a cheaper and superior game. This was due to Madden having a stranglehold on the football game market for years despite other games being available. But when NFL 2K made their game 30 dollars cheaper and superior... well EA got scared and bought the exclusive rights to make console NFL games. This caused an uproar as NFL 2K5 brought many things to the table that Madden STILL hasn't. 2K had sportscenter for every game and every week, presentation that was on par with what you saw on TV, and a mode where you could play football against celebrities. The previous incarnation of 2K had introduced first person football but it wasn't received very well. Madden has simply been skating since they bought the exclusive license. They even had the audacity to put #1 football game on their covers AFTER they bought the exclusive rights. While NBA 2K and MLB: The Show have made massive strides since 2005, Madden has made baby steps outside of their 2010 and 2013 release. Madden will add features one year, see them fail, then remove them the next year. Does anyone remember gameflow (Madden 2011), the vision cone (Madden 2006), or the game that adjusts to how you play (Madden 2009)? They were all broken or useless features that were touted as the next big step. Madden has become a yearly roster update that has many clamoring for someone, anyone to come and make them step up their game. In many sports games you can find a full fledged career mode where you make a player and have an entire career as them. In Madden? They removed superstar mode and now have a VERY lackluster replacement that is simply pitiful considering the game has been around 25 years. Many more features have been removed as well that were good but, I am sure we will see them again later as “new features”. Just like how they brought back create a team this year after removing it two games ago. Needless to say, football games desperately need the competition again.

What do you think? Should we have only one game for each sport? Should there be a ban against buying exclusive rights? Let me know in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. I'm not a big fan of sports games (or sports in general), so maybe my view of the genre is skewed. It seems most of them are third-person/birds-eye-view games where you shift between controlling many players on the field, and the computer plays the rest.

    If you're looking for a change on PC, I recommend Supraball. Right now it's on Steam Greenlight, but they have a multiplayer demo. It's basically soccer (or European football), but first-person and each player on the field is controlled by a real person. I've been playing it lately - it's a lot of fun, and a change of pace from the "typical" sports games.