The Staff Sports Game of the Year has been handed out for over a decade now here at Operation Sports. The process for how we decide the sports game of the year is simple for our staff voting: We simply have everyone send their top three sports games of the year and assign them points in a reverse manner (3 points for 1st, 2 for 2nd, 1 for 3rd).
We do it this way because we want to be able to award the top three sports games as voted on by the staff, so we allow the staff to vote on three total games on their list.
Over the past several seasons, NBA 2K has dominated this list, winning the last several years thanks to a lot of innovation and a polished presentation and gameplay product.
Did NBA 2K17 hold onto the crown? Let's make the jump and find out!
3. Madden NFL 17
The staff was pretty high on Madden this year. It received a couple of first-place votes but a lot of second-place love. In fact, it was voted in second place by our staff writers more than any other game by quite a big margin.
Why was Madden successful this year?
It would seem the biggest aspects were the improved gameplay, which is probably the best ever in a football game along with improved commentary, and thus, a better overall presentation package. The franchise mode saw some big improvements too with the new game planning and big moments options.
The Play the Moments feature was a welcomed addition as well. In short: Madden did a lot right this year and cracking the top three means the game had a rather good year.
2. NBA 2K17
Well, there you have it. Just like Alabama was dethroned as the king of college football by Clemson on Monday night, so to has NBA 2K17 been dethroned.
But the fact that the series didn't win the gold speaks to the quality of the sports games this year more than NBA 2K17 taking a step back. The game still has a lot of really great experiences within it.
The new expansion teams feature in MyGM is a fantastically fun addition -- not to mention the depth introduced into the mode with new CBA agreements and even random rules changes going into effect for future years. MyGM throws everything PLUS the kitchen sink into it.
The presentation in 2K17 is phenomenal as well, and probably unmatched in sports gaming. From the pregame and postgame shows to the in-game commentary, camera cuts, crowd reactions and so much more: NBA 2K17's presentation is the best in our genre.
Where 2K17 tripped up a bit this year -- at least with the staff -- had to do with the gameplay and the MyCareer mode. The on-court action is still solid, but some legacy issues within the gameplay along with some newer issues really tripped up some folks this year. The game is still one of the best playing sports games, but at OS gameplay is king and when the perception is you took a small step backwards, some are going to react negatively to that.
1. MLB The Show 16
MLB The Show 16 has the most authentic gameplay in the sports genre, according to the staff. From the batter/pitcher interactions to adjusting your defense, to making the right substitutions at the right time: no game in our genre captures the feel of playing the actual sport quite like MLB The Show 16.
And if that's all The Show 16 did, it would still be in competition to win this award. But The Show 16 did so much more.
First, the franchise mode menu system was improved. In addition, items like being able to play an entire series without exiting through loading screens and coming back in were also added in this season. If you don't think that's a big deal, just ask any time-crunched gamer who wants to play through a full 162-game season or six.
Second, Road to The Show saw some big upgrades, including the new Scouting Day and the ability to play entire series without exiting the mode. Again, that's huge for a time-crunched gamer.
Showtime also debuted, and while most OS'ers didn't care for the feature that much, it did allow for a few cool moments if you gave it a chance. The fantastic Battle Royale and Conquest modes debuted to great fanfare, and Diamond Dynasty was back and better than ever with some big tweaks to make the mode more enjoyable.
Simply put, MLB The Show 16 was an achievement of what can be done by doing a bunch of little things to have them add up to a package that's a whole lot better, especially when backed by the best gameplay in the business.