Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
About 16 months ago or so, I wrote a column that was so inflammatory I actually had people threatening to come find me and beat my rear end. As a writer, I couldn't help but chuckle that I had most likely stirred a hornets nest of giganto proportions. I felt that I had done such a thorough job of enraging the mob, I haven't revisited the issue until today.

And I still firmly believe that in terms of what creates better sports games, same-sport competition still isn't close to the reason I'd point to for why any specific game is successful or not. Let me lay out my case again:

  • Generally, reviewers on a whole get it right. There are aberrations, and different folks value different things, but when a game gets an 80 vs. another that gets a 90 on Metacritic, almost without fail is the latter game the better game. So downplay this factor all you want, but there is no critical evidence that same sport competition creates better games than sports without that same type of competition -- if anything the evidence shows the exact opposite is true. And hey, if multi-billion dollar companies use Metacritic to judge how they did quality wise, I think it's good enough for us to use too.
  • On an even more important note to companies, sales aren't affected much, if any, by same sports competition. There are bigger factors which go into how well a game sales, and it all revolves around economic conditions -- micro and macro, marketplace competition, and the advertising plan behind it (better doesn't always mean more sales). NBA Elite's biggest competition isn't NBA 2K on store shelves when gamers see the latest Call of Duty and Rockstar's newest creation sitting next to them. Basically put: Little Johnny Casual is wondering whether he should buy NBA 2K or Call of Duty more than NBA 2K or NBA Elite. And whether we like or it not here at OS, little Johnny Casual's sale is the type that'll make or break a release sales wise.
  • There are numerous other factors I'd rate ahead of same sports competition which determine how well a game will end up on the quality spectrum: 1)Money available for investment into the game, 2)corresponding developmental talent/imagination present, and 3)external factors in the development process which are hard to quantify. These external factors include things such as developing for new hardware or corporate decrees on how to develop marketable games. And let's not forget that in competition: there are always winners and losers -- just ask NHL 2K.
Finally, I do think same sports competition is better for sports gamers, because having a choice with two varying takes on a sport is always more desirable than a single choice for the gamer. Games seem less stale over time since you can change up the formula. And yes, from time to time, we see 'idea borrowing' go on between games in the same sport -- which could be the only real quantifiable positive aspect of same sports competition. But as far as does same-sport competition above all other factors create better quality games at the end of the day?

I still don't believe it, but same-sport competition is still definitely good for the consumer.
Blog: MMChrisS
Friday, July 23, 2010
02:38 PM - July 23, 2010. Written by MMChrisS

In case you missed it, and I blame you totally for missing it, myself and Christian conducted a Madden Demo Review Roundtable this morning.

A lot of people got the feeling I was being down on the game, which I guess is understandable since my thoughts followed Christians who was rather down on Madden. For me though, I really think Madden is shaping up to be nearly on par with NCAA in terms of gameplay. Considering I think NCAA is the best playing football game released ever, that's a pretty big compliment to Madden.

However, there are some things which bug me about crowning the final build of Madden as the greatest thing since sliced bread -- namely the lack of any innovation in Franchise mode (or any modes for that matter), the potentially stale or awesome presentation/atmosphere (no real feel on it yet), and the definitely going to be repetitive commentary.

While EA looks to have basically nailed the gameplay like they did with NCAA -- I'm sure sliders will fix the pass rush issue this year or at least alleviate it -- they haven't done anything to make the rest of the game shine. Which is funny to this writer, because the same people who always complained about Madden not being good in the gameplay department are now complaining because Tiburon did nothing to innovate in the modes and focused almost exclusively on the on the field gameplay. Some people will just never be pleased.

However, I've been calling for a reset of both of Tiburon's football game's career modes for quite some time: I only hope this year everyone else catches on and we get some wholesale changes in both modes next year.

Until then, we'll be able to enjoy a couple of games with excellent gameplay. However that ranks on your list of priority items is probably how you should base your buying decision on Madden NFL 11, along with whether you prefer the pro or college game. No need to buy two games which play very similar, but no need to completely skip on an excellent year of football gameplay as well.
Chris is the Executive Editor of Operation Sports and maintains this blog on the site. He is also a native Oklahoman and avid storm chaser. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisSnr.
Blog: MMChrisS
Thursday, July 22, 2010
04:01 PM - July 22, 2010. Written by MMChrisS

Hockey fanatics are pretty darned excited about NHL 11.

Our resident hockey gurus on staff are already planning a cage match to the death for rights to review NHL 11, and I don't blame them. Besides: it's hard to see NHL 11 not being an extremely good sports game.

The real time physics mean the game will essentially be what Backbreaker attempted but yet still wasn't even close to being: a realistic game with real time physics -- obvious I know. Let's not even forget the other additions to the game such as broken sticks, enhanced Be a Pro, 200-ish gameplay enhancements and the new additions to EASHL.

Quite simply: I'm wondering if NHL 11 might just reclaim the crown here at OS for Game of the Year. Here are some things I see working against the game:

1. It's still hockey, and Americans largely don't care about the sport still...at least not how we used to. It'll be tough for NHL 11 to power over strong competition in baseball, basketball and football.

2. Could a bug or two spoil the fun? More times than not, small bugs or oversights have brought down a game from OS Game of the Year consideration, even though the overall package was still quite solid.

3. With posts like mine, could the hype train get ahead of the final product? A lot of times, you see people get way too hyped up for a sports game and it ends up playing pretty similar to it's predecessors even though there are notable and key differences.

As for me, NHL 11 and FIFA 11 are my two most anticipated games for the rest of 2010. So I guess this writer has bought into the hype. So what do you think OSers? Is NHL 11 going to be a legit Game of the Year contender? Sound off with your favorites!
Blog: MMChrisS
06:05 AM - July 22, 2010. Written by Steve_OS
If any of these links interest you, talk about them.QOTD: Are you a "game resetter" or do you play through, no matter what?

Happy Birthday to the following OS'ers!

wlawrence67 (43), Lintyfresh85 (25), mmorg (24), goodfellagator22 (24), DMT1809, SpacemanSpiff, Forged in Steel
Blog: Steve_OS
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
05:46 AM - July 21, 2010. Written by Steve_OS
If any of these links interest you, talk about them.QOTD: What is the longest gaming session you have ever had?

Happy Birthday to the following OS'ers!

coffeeholic, gallandro (43), ecantona99 (35), Smiley79 (31), PlayaHataSupreme (28), Guffers (27), KleShreen (23), jackel2168 (23), Leon (22), GoDawgs211 (22)
Blog: Steve_OS
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
04:41 AM - July 16, 2010. Written by Steve_OS
If any of these links interest you, talk about them.QOTD: When playing sports video games, what is your favorite position to play? (Based on each sports genre you play)

Happy Birthday to the following OS'ers!

MRBDX, B A BOSTWICK (37), HandyRefuse, zasbury25 (32), Graphik (31), ScriptOhio (31), loaf31, SmashMan (25), vinnycast27 (25), bamaboy232 (20), MrBallaBoy21 (20)
Blog: Steve_OS
Thursday, July 15, 2010
11:35 AM - July 15, 2010. Written by MMChrisS

The NCAA team fired the first shot out of the gun this week with the best playing football game -- but still slightly flawed -- in history. Now the attention is beginning to slowly shift to the 10000 lb elephant in the room: Madden NFL 11.

What can Madden do to match and even NCAA's success critically? Well here are a few things:

Don't mess up the basics NCAA nailed- Most likely, Madden has this in the bag -- but you can never be too sure. Locomotion, pro-tak, auto-turbo, and the new animations NCAA incorporated are a huge reason why NCAA is so freaking good this year. Madden has to have that part down.

Unlike NCAA, have spot on commentary- The more I hear Nessler and Herbstreit talk, the more I am beginning to hate their commentary. There are numerous out of place lines, many of which we've heard for half a decade or more. What's worse is they are just kind of boring. Madden has to have a more exciting presentation from the commentary on up.

Capture the atmosphere- EA is touting they've done just that with proper music, chants, etc. for all 32 NFL teams. If fans of NFL teams can play a game and Madden and hear the right things at the right times, well that's going to make Madden seem a lot better than what it really is (which it could be pretty darned good to begin with).

Deliver the goods within the modes-Online dynasty is a surefire hit, the rest of NCAA isn't. Madden has to match Online Dynasty's success while also providing a reason to play other modes as well.

In the end, I think the Madden team has a chance to really bring out something special this year with the Madden franchise. If the gameplay matches NCAA's in quality with a proper NFL atmosphere around you, I suspect the game could be a legit contender for GOTY at OS. However, there are numerous pitfalls to suffer from for me too get too excited too quick, so final judgment has to be reserved for another month.

Do you think Madden will match and even surpass NCAA?
Chris is the Executive Editor of Operation Sports and maintains this blog on the site. He is also a native Oklahoman and avid storm chaser. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisSnr.
Blog: MMChrisS
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Think back just a short decade ago.

Sports games were everywhere. Pro football had 4-6 titles each year, NBA fans had multiple titles to choose from and one year there were no less than five MLB games which garnered good to great reviews across the spectrum.

What happened?

Today there is one NFL game, on NCAA game, two MLB games, two NBA games and one and a half hockey games. It's almost like someone came in and turned the power off to the party while everyone was still dancing and having a good time.

I think there are a couple of rational explanations for why those games disappeared and also why they're never coming back. Let's dissect both:

  1. There wasn't enough pie to go around- As much as this sucks -- because I'd love for sports gaming to be much bigger -- the sports gamer is a smaller sect of the overall video game picture than the Final Fantasy/RPG nerd is. (I'm a FPS nerd, so don't start claiming I'm hating here) Plus, Sports games tend to get repetitive whereas in other genres companies can change the rules and scenery of the games. You can't do that in sports. The NBA is still the NBA, whether it's in a game made by EA, Activision, Ubisoft, Take Two, or Sony. The same rules (mostly) still apply to any NBA game ever made. Therefore when push came to shove, there just wasn't enough customers to fund multiple games in each sport in the genre.
  2. Games are getting really hard to make- The smaller projects all but died out (or are becoming internet/downloadable phenoms) because games in this generation require a huge investment in both time and money to make. We as customers demand a more authentic experience to go along with our more powerful hardware and when things don't match up -- we complain. From shoelaces, to jersey types, to lighting intricacies, to the finer points of gameplay which developers didn't have to worry about in generations prior. We basically want our safe and comfortable family car, we just want it to have a big engine and go really fast too.
As we go forward into the future, don't look for these trends to change. Even if the market for sports games grows, the necessary price of entry for new companies with no existing code base sitting around will start to become prohibitively high. The cost will be especially high to compete with the titans at EA and 2K with very intricate systems already in place. In fact, I see a future where sports games become even more scarce, not more bountiful.

I guess the party's over after all.

Why do you think sports games have disappeared? Do you think we'll ever see another year with over 16 games released in major American sports?
Chris is the Executive Editor of Operation Sports and maintains this blog on the site. He is also a native Oklahoman and avid storm chaser. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisSnr.
Blog: MMChrisS