As a whole, sports titles must be one of the most profitable genres in the gaming industry, Madden alone has proved that it has an enormous fan base. Every year we get bombarded with sports titles and every year I find myself buying every one.
Be it Madden or Top Spin, PES or Tiger Woods, I always end up with the new instalments and I have never said to myself, “wow, now that has taken the sports genre to the next level”. Sports titles have never been at the forefront of revolution, but every gamer wants something new and exciting with their purchases.
Usually when you get the latest version, you get slightly improved graphics and player models, updated rosters and in soccer games you will get the newly promoted teams and possibly a new mode which tried to change the way you play the game.
For the majority, EA tend to dominate the sports scene, while Konami and 2k manage to put out brilliant games, they don’t have the sheer variety that EA have and, bar tennis (which is due to change in the near future anyway), EA seem to cover every major sport there is.
This could be the reason that EA seem to be the only company trying to expand their sports games by adding new features or ways of playing the game. It must be getting increasingly harder to add original features when the sports themselves don’t change. While we are seeing advancements in online play such as 2v2 or 5v5, even 10v10, there are set rules as to how many people are allowed to play in a team at one time, and I’m pretty sure nobody wants to buy a game to play online and then get stuck on the bench.
Isn’t that the reason we play the games? To be the stars and not get stuck on the bench? Lately EA have also introduced the ability to play as a single player in the team sports and build your career as if it you were really playing the sport and not just sitting on your couch.
Not bad, but again will be restricted by the sports rules. Sure, live stat updates are a great idea but whether they will work the way they are intended to remains to be seen. But what next? Where do the developers go after all the gameplay modes have been perfected? Nowhere, is the answer that pops into my head. They can only go sideways or down.
I get a scary feeling every year that the game I am buying could be one game closer to the stagnation of the genre. I can’t help but wonder if the time will ever come where the developers will have nothing new and original to add to their games. Will we reach a point where we will be picking up a sports game looking for improved graphics to justify our purchase?
Will the ever willing public ever reach a point where they will wise up to what they are buying and just start buying every second instalment to save some money? Could we ever reach a point where the developers will decide that churning out games annually is unfeasible, and that it is much easier to just release regular roster updates to keep the games up-to-date while not actually spending that much money?
Probably not, the sheer passion involved with sport is enough to keep people buying the games and enjoying them. The one thing a sports game can give you is huge replay value and endless fun. I am still worried that we might reach a point where the games will feature little to no new features, and the graphics will just keep improving but even those can only reach a certain point before they look like the real thing.
In the end, the real saving grace will most likely be that as newer consoles are produced, new ways of playing the games will be created until we are actually playing the sport in our living rooms. So as long as the gaming industry keeps expanding and changing, the sports themselves won’t need to and the genre should theoretically be safe. Only time will tell.
Last Updated: September 5, 2008