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One of our forum members, countryboy, has written an interesting piece about the scrutiny that sports games receive in general. We decided to tag it for our front page since it was already receiving a lot of attention.

Do sports games receive too much criticism?

I am asking this question about every sports game. Football, baseball, basketball, hockey, racing, golf, tennis, soccer, wrestling, or any other sport that you can think of that has a video game representing it.

Every one of these sports has a fan following behind it, that want the game to mirror what they see on TV or play themselves. And along with this expectation of an exact replica, the fans become more and more demanding of the game. No more settling for something that just represents the sport they play/watch. We monitor every screenshot, every video, and hang on every word that is a preview of our game. Then we play the game for ourselves, enjoy it for the first couple of days, and then throw it under a microscope and examine it from top to bottom, leaving no feature, no player model, not one single aspect of the game is left out of the examination.

If a player's hair cut is wrong we know it. If the game isn't being played properly, we spot it. If the fans section isn't 100% then you can bet your bottom dollar that someone is going to mention it. We knock ourselves out, examing the game, making sure that its perfect. And the minute that it isn't, we agonize over it until the next installment, or a patch, whichever comes first.

So my question again. Do sports games receive too much criticism? Or maybe I should ask, do we set ourselves up for disappointment by expecting perfection from our favorite sports game? Do we examine this as if we are examining a crime scene, looking for something thats not right, out of place, to the point that there is no way that we can fully enjoy the game?

What other genre of games receive this much criticism and have to live up to these types of expectations? I know that there are fans of Halo, GTA, MGS, COD, and others that expect certain things out of the game and if they are lacking the fans will be heard. But, do the fans of those types of games, expect the same type of perfection that fans of sports games expect? I mean, when playing COD, do you find yourself saying, "man, there is no way that a soldier would run like that." or "that isn't the proper way to hold a machine gun. Look at it, his hand position is all wrong and his body posture is out of sorts." I don't think we do. We play these games because they are games. So why don't we play sports games for the same reason?

Why don't we play the game for the fun of it? Why do we focus on the negatives so much and tend to overlook the positives of a sports game? I mean after all, its just a video game, right?

So, I'll ask my question one more time. Do sports games receive too much criticism? I am looking forward to the thoughts and insights of my fellow OS'ers and especially my fellow sports nuts.

DISCLAIMER This post is in no way, no how, intended to call out those who complain about a sports game, get upset when something isn't right, or anyone that talks about something negative about a sports game. We all do it. We all have our certain expectations and when they are not met, we get frustrated when said expectations are not met. This post is for nothing more than discussion. Thank you for reading.

Member Comments
# 1 Scott @ 05/24/08 05:36 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by countryboy
DISCLAIMER: This thread is about ALL sports games and not just about Madden. I only posted this thread here because I really didn't know where else to post it. I am hoping that a Mod will move this thread to the correct forum.


Now that we got that little part out of the way, lets move to the reason for this thread.

Do sports games receive too much criticism?

I am asking this question about every sports game. Football, baseball, basketball, hockey, racing, golf, tennis, soccer, wrestling, or any other sport that you can think of that has a video game representing it.

Every one of these sports has a fan following behind it, that want the game to mirror what they see on TV or play themselves. And along with this expectation of an exact replica, the fans become more and more demanding of the game. No more settling for something that just represents the sport they play/watch. We monitor every screenshot, every video, and hang on every word that is a preview of our game. Then we play the game for ourselves, enjoy it for the first couple of days, and then throw it under a microscope and examine it from top to bottom, leaving no feature, no player model, not one single aspect of the game is left out of the examination.

If a player's hair cut is wrong we know it. If the game isn't being played properly, we spot it. If the fans section isn't 100% then you can bet your bottom dollar that someone is going to mention it. We knock ourselves out, examing the game, making sure that its perfect. And the minute that it isn't, we agonize over it until the next installment, or a patch, whichever comes first.

So my question again. Do sports games receive too much criticism? Or maybe I should ask, do we set ourselves up for disappointment by expecting perfection from our favorite sports game? Do we examine this as if we are examining a crime scene, looking for something thats not right, out of place, to the point that there is no way that we can fully enjoy the game?

What other genre of games receive this much criticism and have to live up to these types of expectations? I know that there are fans of Halo, GTA, MGS, COD, and others that expect certain things out of the game and if they are lacking the fans will be heard. But, do the fans of those types of games, expect the same type of perfection that fans of sports games expect? I mean, when playing COD, do you find yourself saying, "man, there is no way that a soldier would run like that." or "that isn't the proper way to hold a machine gun. Look at it, his hand position is all wrong and his body posture is out of sorts." I don't think we do. We play these games because they are games. So why don't we play sports games for the same reason?

So, I'll ask my question one more time. Do sports games receive too much criticism? I am looking forward to the thoughts and insights of my fellow OS'ers and especially my fellow sports nuts.
I say yes, look how much detail go into a sports game. I don't go in expecting a perfect game, and I'm not disappointed when I receive my copy.
 
# 2 SoxFan01605 @ 05/24/08 06:05 PM
Yes and no. I think we do expect a lot from our sports titles, but it's a little different from other game types. Most other games aren't meant to be full simulations of what they are representing. GTA IV is more of a characature of real life, not a simmed replica. Same with Halo, etc. (The closest to the way sports games are viewed, I guess, would be GRAW, COD, etc...like you mentioned). Not too much room for arguments about realism in many of those genres ("You're magic tossing demon elf thing is so fake...everyone knows they can only throw magic A...not magic B"...sorry, cheesy I know)) Even in some of those cases, the die hard fans pick them apart. I had a buddy complain to me that the grenade tossing "wasn't realistic" in Gears of War while he was shooting the "ultra-realistic" locust things with a Character that is on steroids that also happen to be on steroids. I think we see the nitpicking more because we are in a forum with people who are focused on the particular sports.

That being said, I do think we maybe pick them apart to a fault almost. In Madden for example, we complain about shoe laces, field goal nets, sizes of commemorative logos, etc in the same tone we do about bad tackling, poor blocking, super defenders, etc, etc. It can make companies like EA think they've met our needs by addressing the wrong issues (or covering them up as has been the trend the past few years). I'm not downing any of these complaints, but sometimes I think we lack perspective.
 
# 3 SageInfinite @ 05/24/08 06:24 PM
Good thread and post cb. I think that some people over analyze the games, but we all have our quirks that we hope developers include. The thing about Sports games is developers have the same reference(probably even more) material we have. We figure if we notice is so should they. I definitely think some people take it too far tho. I can say WE(message boards) do give sports games too much criticism, as a whole(reviewers,casual guys,non message board video game sports fans) I'd say no, they don't.
 
# 4 countryboy @ 05/24/08 06:37 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by SageTheInfinite
Good thread and post cb. I think that some people over analyze the games, but we all have our quirks that we hope developers include. The thing about Sports games is developers have the same reference(probably even more) material we have. We figure if we notice is so should they. I definitely think some people take it too far tho. I can say WE(message boards) do give sports games too much criticism, as a whole(reviewers,casual guys,non message board video game sports fans) I'd say no, they don't.
good post Sage. And I agree.
 
# 5 SidVish @ 05/24/08 06:48 PM
I think that overall yes sports games do get criticized too much but for me it's in context. If it wasn't for games like The Show, NBA or College Hoops 2k8, I guess I wouldn't be so disappointed in EA's football game efforts. I guess in a way those games have spoiled me with graphics, sig styles, atmosphere and presentation. They've made me realize that sports games can in fact be great which is why I expect more sometimes from the football games.
 
# 6 countryboy @ 05/24/08 07:02 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by grunt
No, I think game developers take sport gamers for granted. What happen to next gen 2k baseball and next gen EA football is a joke. EA having only 35 people working on Madden show the level of commitment from EA to make a quality football game.

I think next gen sports game fell short.

PS

The "SHUT UP PLAY" comment by VC sums up next gen sport game.
Please don't take this as a defense of some sort for either of the 2 games that you mentioned or the developers, but doesn't every sports game end up eventually coming up short? I mean, has there not been a sports game where there wasn't something "seriously" wrong with the game?
 
# 7 countryboy @ 05/24/08 07:05 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by SidVish
I think that overall yes sports games do get criticized too much but for me it's in context. If it wasn't for games like The Show, NBA or College Hoops 2k8, I guess I wouldn't be so disappointed in EA's football game efforts. I guess in a way those games have spoiled me with graphics, sig styles, atmosphere and presentation. They've made me realize that sports games can in fact be great which is why I expect more sometimes from the football games.
but even games such as The Show, NBA, or College Hoops have something about them that keep them from being perfect in the eyes of their most faithful fans. Take me for example, I love the Show and play it daily, but I wouldn't call it perfect and there are things about it that frustrate me because they're not done in the sense that I think they should and there are things that have been omitted that I really want to see in the game.
 
# 8 SidVish @ 05/24/08 07:14 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by countryboy
but even games such as The Show, NBA, or College Hoops have something about them that keep them from being perfect in the eyes of their most faithful fans. Take me for example, I love the Show and play it daily, but I wouldn't call it perfect and there are things about it that frustrate me because they're not done in the sense that I think they should and there are things that have been omitted that I really want to see in the game.

Well of course if you go in expecting a "perfect" you're going to be disappointed every single time. I just go in with the mindset that I hope there aren't any game killing bugs because every game with have a few bugs. If it's a pretty good representation of the sport I'll have fun with it which is the case for me with The Show and 2k's basketball games.
 
# 9 RAZRr1275 @ 05/24/08 07:21 PM
I agree with you. And I admit to doing it. Great post.
 
# 10 countryboy @ 05/24/08 07:25 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by SidVish
Well of course if you go in expecting a "perfect" you're going to be disappointed every single time. I just go in with the mindset that I hope there aren't any game killing bugs because every game with have a few bugs. If it's a pretty good representation of the sport I'll have fun with it which is the case for me with The Show and 2k's basketball games.
but don't a majority of the gamers/fans (I won't say all) go into the game expecting "perfection"?

Sports games have a bugs/glitches thread after the release of the game that is littered with the biggest of issues to the most minute nitpick.

Again, there is no right or wrong, I am just posing a question after years of reading post-release threads/posts on sports games.
 
# 11 coffeeholic @ 05/25/08 06:29 AM
The majority of us here at the boards have expensive game consoles and "promises" from devs about "with next gen-you get utlra realistic features and AI!". You pop the game in the tray and find little to no difference than a version of the sports game you played way back when except for better graphics and a little more icing on the cake,if that...Topped off with arcade type gameplay that can make the most stable tempered person wanting to hurle his controller through that big ole high dollar HD tv at times. You have games that stutter on a rig that is probably packing more CPU punch than your home computer-that's something that really fries my arse....The devs and the big game companies(qc) should be ashamed of themselves for letting beta type gaming go out on the shelves and then ask 60 bucks for it. To sum it up...I ask-what is wrong with this picture? is it you(the devs) or is it me asking for too much?
 
# 12 Blzer @ 05/25/08 07:39 AM
No. They are releasing a game every year. That's really probably less than six months of hard-coding. It isn't really enough to differentiate year from year, and while that's all good and dandy and we should accept that, first press-releases create totally unnecessary hype every time in and out. Does it suck me in? Of course. But this is where they should be criticized... where they don't deliver. Then the team gives excuses about not enough time to add something in, and I say that is bull. They should have a few guys secretly working on some hitting code, pitching code, franchise code... whatever, in some hidden file that takes four years to complete. But they don't do anything long-term like that. Everything is year-in, year-out kind of material.

I can't wait until we see some sports games go every other year. Saves us cash, lets us play a little more of our franchise mode, and they can get more quality long-term stuff in there that they're planning on doing for a game.
 
# 13 slickdtc @ 05/25/08 10:21 AM
Nah, I don't think they get too much criticism. Some games have some inexcusable bugs and glitches that really take away the whole experience and make the game unplayable. Other games have annoyances that you have to deal with. I believe the developers and whoever else is in charge of getting this game out there should be criticized for their work. But they should also be commended for the good work they did do, which they aren't very much. And that's the problem; criticize the bad, commend the good.

I used to analyze my games a lot (basically from 2003 to 2005), then I gave up and accepted what was coming out. Coincidentally, I've had some of my best sports gaming moments and achievements since then. So I'll stick with what I'm doing.
 
# 14 countryboy @ 05/25/08 10:58 AM
let me ask this Solider to your repsonse in regards to GTA, Halo, & MGS. Do you think those games would make the big improvements they do, if they were to be released on a yearly basis?
 
# 15 countryboy @ 05/25/08 11:18 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Soldier
Obviously they would not, but I think they'd do a hell of a lot better than NCAA 08 or NBA 2k8 did. Vice City was made in a year.

While they have time constraints, they also haven't made a new engine in 6 or 7 years. Again, we've seen what can happen as with NCAA 2004, NFL 2k5, MVP 05, and NHL 07 (or whichever one they improved), so clearly it's possible to revamp a game and make it great.

The additions to NCAA 09 have clearly been a joke, and it's not like 08 was a God send of a football game.

 
# 16 umd @ 05/25/08 11:02 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by countryboy
let me ask this Solider to your repsonse in regards to GTA, Halo, & MGS. Do you think those games would make the big improvements they do, if they were to be released on a yearly basis?
Or, (just posing this not attacking you) do you think that given it has been about 3-4 years into next gen that certain games have really "jumped ahead" in quality since the last generation?

I'm saying, take the 3 years total spent on 3 yearly versions of the same franchise and compare the last version of this gen (360/PS3) with the last version of the game from last gen (PS2/xbox)? Is there a huge leap - like GTAIV or COD4 size in quality?

It's an apples and orange kind of argument, but we should be seeing a more significant cumulative improvement - even if versions are being released along the way at yearly intervals. I don't really think we are seeing that improvement for any of the sports titles, which has made next gen sports gaming overall pretty disappointing. Especially when compared to many great non-sports releases.
 
# 17 countryboy @ 05/26/08 07:56 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by umd
Or, (just posing this not attacking you) do you think that given it has been about 3-4 years into next gen that certain games have really "jumped ahead" in quality since the last generation?

I'm saying, take the 3 years total spent on 3 yearly versions of the same franchise and compare the last version of this gen (360/PS3) with the last version of the game from last gen (PS2/xbox)? Is there a huge leap - like GTAIV or COD4 size in quality?

It's an apples and orange kind of argument, but we should be seeing a more significant cumulative improvement - even if versions are being released along the way at yearly intervals. I don't really think we are seeing that improvement for any of the sports titles, which has made next gen sports gaming overall pretty disappointing. Especially when compared to many great non-sports releases.

I agree that some sports games have become stagnant on next gen, but the criticism of sports games goes back to the PS2/Xbox days and before that.
 
# 18 countryboy @ 05/26/08 08:27 AM
I should've put quotations around the word perfection. I didn't mean it litterally.
 
# 19 cdj @ 05/26/08 12:57 PM
Do sports gamers give games too much criticism at times? Yes.

Games like Halo, GTA, etc. have years between releases, so it's easier to see the improvements. If they were yearly, we'd be complaining about the lack of improvement.

Do most major media sites give the games enough criticism? No.

When was the last time a major media site went in and addressed if community concerns were addressed from one year to the next? Have they ever actually evaluated online play (for example) or do they just regurgitate what the press release on the game says for that feature? (Not to mention when some sites give the old 'they just changed the year on the box' joke.)

I'd say that sometimes fans are too critical and media sites are not critical enough. One party needs to be less critical and the other more critical. Then we may begin to see more changes from one year to the next, regardless of if we feel enough changes are already occurring.

Good article, countryboy.
 
# 20 KG @ 05/26/08 01:30 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by rm217
It's not about expecting perfection. It's more about sports games getting stagnant by either not changing much from the year before or in some cases going backwards and actually making a worst game a year later. With so much money invested in exclusive licenses it's no wonder why these companies don't have much money left over to actually make a true next generation game. Stop relying so much on the exclusive license and you'll see an expotional improvement in our sports games.
Exactly, sports games are pretty much 1) updated rosters & 2) some new feature that will be gone or ignored in 2 years.

At this point in sports games there aren't many new groundbreaking features that can be rolled out. Don't get me wrong, you have features like online dynasties but that's more of implementing something that is already there in a new way. I think the thing with next-gen sport titles that has so many of us OS'ers pissed off is the elimination of older features for the sake of better graphics. I'm all for visual enhancements but sacrificing aspects that made us love a particular series is not acceptable.
 

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