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EA Sports PGA Tour Returns, So What's Next?

EA Sports PGA TOUR

EA Sports PGA TOUR

EA Sports PGA Tour Returns, So What's Next?

 

For over two decades, EA Sports and the PGA Tour were joined at the hip and had an amazing run in one form or the other until 2015. The initial release of PGA Tour Golf first arrived on the scene for the PC, SNES, and Sega Genesis. Looking back, while the series got off to a solid start way back in 1990, no one could have foreseen the long and historic run that was anchored by Tiger Woods for over 15 of those years.

The series went through many changes, multiple additions, improvements, and different covers up until 1998. Once Tiger Woods hit the cover in ’98, much like he had for the sport itself, he changed EA’s video game franchise forever.

The Tiger Woods PGA series ran from 1998 until 2014. At that point, EA separated themselves from Tiger Woods for legal reasons that are well known at this juncture. The series would go one for one more year with Rory McIlroy replacing Tiger, and then finally go into hibernation after struggling to adapt to a new era.

Rory McIlroy PGA Tour

While graphically beautiful for the time, the Rory edition of the PGA series was poorly received due to a lack of depth and content. The ROI was paltry enough for EA to back off from golf, and that’s when HB Studios stepped in with a replacement.

Competition

The Golf Club

The Golf Club ran without the PGA license for years, and compensated for it by allowing community course creations that allowed designers to create venues that closely replicated the courses we saw each and every week on the PGA Tour in real life. Now with PGA Tour 2K21 fully embracing and possessing the PGA license, most assumed this was the golf game moving forward for those looking for a PGA simulation experience.

While that may be true, and I fully expect the next title from 2K to be fully fleshed out, news now has broken that finds a new (but old) contender stepping up. Just this week, a few days before The Masters starts at Augusta, EA Sports dropped a bomb on the sports gaming community with the announcement that it is returning to the links. This is a return that includes the PGA license.

While no release date has been announced, the company promised in its press release that the game will fully incorporate the PGA license, which includes real courses, a real career mode, and a series of real PGA players — that you can actually play as in the game. That last part felt like a subtle shot at 2K for still not having this in its game, but I have no proof of that.

What We Know – EA Sports PGA Tour

What we know right now is that EA Sports PGA Tour will seemingly provide everything I mentioned previously, which will include the PGA License, real golfers, a career mode, and real PGA courses. It will also include the full Fed-Ex playoffs, which obviously means that it plans on having a robust career mode, but how deep and how robust? Well, that’s one of the big questions right now.

We also know that the game will be built on the Frostbite engine, which means it should be beautiful at the very least. Still, if we are being honest, there is a lot of “back of the box” talk included in the press release, and without facts and gameplay videos to back it up, I suggest that we all take the cautiously optimistic approach.

ea sports pga tour information

So, we know the game will look beautiful and have some real depth to it, which the previous Rory title did not. That is a great start, and EA promises that more news about the title will be dropping over the next few weeks. Hopefully, this news will start to shine a spotlight on just what the game will contain.

Many are speculating that Augusta and The Masters are set to make a return to the EA franchise, and now would be just about the perfect time to announce that news if that’s the case. However, I would be cautious here yet again because there is no doubt that license has an exorbitant price tag. That said, if EA really is looking to make a splash, what better way to do it than include the golf course in its very first iteration back on the market.

To Be Different Or Not?

While we all await the upcoming news from EA about its new golf title, one does have to wonder what approach the company will take regarding its re-entry into the sport. So far, PGA Tour 2K21 has delivered a career mode, but one that lacks a full schedule or the ability to import created courses to compensate for the lack of the real-life licensed counterparts.

PGA 2K21 also doesn’t allow for co-op career modes or the ability to play a mixed career mode with friends and real PGA players. This is not a knock on PGA 2K1 because this is truly the first year that I would consider the title to be a full-fledged licensed golfing simulation with respect to the PGA.

If I were EA, my point of entry would be to allow a co-op career mode with up to four real players (or more) and a mixture of real PGA players. If I were EA, I would also come prepared to deliver a robust course creator because the days of being limited to 12-16 licensed courses are over. HB Studios and 2K hold all the cards in respect to course creation and implementation, and I struggle to think many will abandon ship for a title that is restrictive.

There is so much more that will be important to the first release, and that includes licensed clubs, apparel, swing types, and presentation. How big would it be for EA to throw down the gauntlet with presentation packages from both CBS and NBC, much like the company did with its last college basketball title, NCAA Basketball 10?

The biggest piece of information that we need to wait for is that release window. Once we have that, then the minutia of the title will start to fall into place. Until then, the best we can hope for and will have are rumors and conjecture — while fun that provides zero substance.

In my perfect world, both EA Sports PGA Tour and PGA 2K are wildly successful, and both have a long run. I miss the days when sports fans had multiple titles to choose from, and real competition pushed development teams to take chances and be creative. There is a scenario here that ends with all parties winning, and that includes EA, 2K, and the fans. However, the window of opportunity to do just that is a rather small one and can come crashing down with even the smallest of missteps by either company.

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  1. Solid write up here once again...love the golf coverage!
    I think it bears mentioning that the EA press release announced Pebble Beach. That's a pretty big get, too, in my eyes. Pebble wasn't in Rory, either, which was kind of a surprise at the time - it had been in EA's golf game for seemingly forever at that point.
    In looking at the golf gaming landscape here, I think it's obvious that EA will need to make a "splash" with their golf game to try to compete with 2K. PGA 2K21 sold a lot of copies and is the front-runner in this space. 2K added Tiger Woods, and also brought HB in house now, which means they are committed to building this franchise. This would be where Augusta and The Masters, not to mention the licenses for the rest of the majors, would make a huge difference.
    EA is adding playable pros, which is a good start. I see comments on 2K's social media every day from people wanting to play as the pros.
    I think EA needs to bring back Country Clubs, like TW games had. That would help compete with 2K's Societies.
    A full-fledged career mode, complete with something like the old "GameFace" that allowed you to take a photo and import it into the game to make your created character look just like you would be perfect (I'm amazed this isn't in PGA 2K21, as 2K uses this for NBA 2K). Career mode should take it a step further, making it a full-on pro golf experience. Perhaps including elements like maintaining a personal budget for things like caddies and transportation, while you bring in money from sponsors, which get better as you perform well. No clue if these ideas are even feasible, but a robust career mode would put 2K's to shame. Career mode also needs the licensed majors - playing in the Rocket Mortgage Classic is wonderful, but competing in 2K21's "Northwest Open", not the US Open, is silly.
    I would love to see EA add a more intuitive create-a-course suite. 2K's is pretty great, but is a doozy to try and learn. I mentioned this in another thread, but a NCAA Football Teambuilder-like creation system that lets you build your course online and import it into the game would be nice - it's easier to design courses on a computer than it is on console (at least in 2K21).
    I also think both these games are going to lean heavily into DLC...which is just the way it goes now. 2K has added more DLC in 2K21, so I am sure they next game will have even more. EA will do what they do and probably sell new courses, gear, and might even add some kind of card collecting mode in their golf game...who knows?
    No matter what, having competition here is great. I want two solid golf games that push each other and bring this segment of gamers lots of innovation.
    They should include a fictional African American golfer named Lion Irons
    Of course there is a Swedish blonde who would suggest it should be "Lyin' Irons"
    mlbtheshowgamer
    1 word Legends

    I was just thinking earlier, too, of how much I enjoyed the "Legends of the Majors" mode in Tiger Woods 14. I'd totally welcome something like that, or another way that would utilize legendary pros like Arnie, Jack, Seve, Bobby Jones, etc.
    I'm keeping expectation low on this one. They're building from Rory and there's a huge amount of work to be done to make it even close of TW12, let alone TW14.
    bigkev
    I'm keeping expectation low on this one. They're building from Rory and there's a huge amount of work to be done to make it even close of TW12, let alone TW14.

    While that's certainly true, about building from Rory, I have to believe that that certainly will have some takeaways from the absolute failure of that game (which I enjoyed playing, but mostly because I got it when it was about $10!) and learned from their mistakes.
    I'm tempering my expectations, too, but the fact they're hopping back into a market that's controlled by a game that just sold 2 million copies means they must feel confident they have a product that can compete.
    Well let's have a look at what 2K/HB doesn't have and what EA had.
    1. Frosbite engine for superior graphic. If 2K/HB wants to compete with that, they will probably have to start from scratch like EA did.
    2. A real PGA career mode, with 3 official Majors. Only the Masters was missing. And oh, the leaderboard were working. :lol:
    3. A full arcade mode, which the majority of players online were using.
    4. Playing as a pro or any other character.
    5. Links courses with real pot bunkers. The Brits are always complaining about that. In fact, lots of TGC users have been complaining about the bunkers since TGC 1.
    What is really missing for EA, it's all the contents they used to have in TW14. Gameface, Country Clubs, equipment, clothing, etc.
    What 2K/HB have is the course creator but it's coming with graphics limitations. And with the PGA brand over there, it cost them the offline societies and ability to enter course creations in PGA career.
    As for play ability and physics, either company will never please everybody. There will always be a large numbers of customers complaining and whining all the time on just about everything. At least now they will have the choice to take which one to complain more about and/or just not buying it.
    @bigkev
    Good list
    #1, #2 & #5 get me the most excited (#1 in particular).
    Other than some shimmering and need for more horsepower than the PS4 generation could provide (it seemed like), I already thought Rory was the best looking golf game - ever. It really just needed more resolution and AA and filtering and just more modern graphical touches to polish it up in places.
    The thought of a next generation version based around that is...really really exciting.
    As long as the audience, and thus the money, is there for EA, I think the content will come, but certainly not all at once.
    It took quite a while and many versions to ultimately culminate at TW14
    I bought all the course packs for TW14 and would absolutely, in a heartbeat, do the same for the new EA game. I hope they take that approach and pump out some great course DLC.
    I loved tiger woods 2014. I bought the historic edition when it came out as it had a few extra courses. The problem I remember with that game was as your golfer abilities increased it would get me to a point where it was all too easy. I suppose going back to it maybe I could not apply the bonuses to my golfer and keep the difficulty where I want it.
    I was very excited when 2k got in the game and was initially very happy with the game but finding out that the scoreboards and scores don't track was shocking. Without that you don't have a season or career but merely the illusion of one. If the scoreboards and stat tracking worked or could be fixed I'd be happy with it.
    I am glad there will be another game. More choice is better. That being said EA Rory McIlroy was one of the worst golf games I've ever played. I honestly preferred their PGA games from the super Nintendo to that dumpster fire. I was so pumped when it came out and could not believe that that was the game that came after Tiger 14.
    I've enjoyed 2K21 but it is hampered by the graphics engine, which gives the courses a lifeless post-apocalyptic appearance. Vast tracts of land where nothing lives. Holographic crowds who make no attempt to dodge as the ball flies straight through them. I'm somewhat doubting 2K will change the engine between releases so I'm glad to see EA having a go, hopefully they can create something that feels alive.
    Tom0307
    The only thing this means is a licence war where each game will have half the stuff you want

    Having only one game being developed does not automatically mean that we'd have one game with all the licenses, particularly if the one and only developer were 2k.
    Personally, I'll take having competition between EA & 2K myself.
    It's usually better for both games when they are duking it out.
    seattleFire
    I've enjoyed 2K21 but it is hampered by the graphics engine, which gives the courses a lifeless post-apocalyptic appearance. Vast tracts of land where nothing lives. Holographic crowds who make no attempt to dodge as the ball flies straight through them. I'm somewhat doubting 2K will change the engine between releases so I'm glad to see EA having a go, hopefully they can create something that feels alive.

    Believe it or not, I saw someone on another forum with the opinion that PGA Tour 2K21 is simply a much better looking game aesthetically than Rory. They did admit that the 2K21 player models are not up to today's standards, though, so at least that's something...
    No matter what, 2K needs a major visual overhaul. Their current game honestly looks like an OK PS3 title. Swing animations are awkward, player models flat-out stink (look at the elbows and wrists...eek!), textures are not detailed from distances and really stick out (for example, trees down course that aren't fully rendered really look bad), etc. With their title moving to next gen consoles, another golf game in their series that looks like it should be on the previous generation of systems would be a huge disappointment.
    MrArlingtonBeach
    Believe it or not, I saw someone on another forum with the opinion that PGA Tour 2K21 is simply a much better looking game aesthetically than Rory. They did admit that the 2K21 player models are not up to today's standards, though, so at least that's something...

    Pure bias if you ask me
    I have videos from my PS4 and Rory from a couple years ago and some of the tee shots absolutely would have passed for "TV broadcast". Just stunning.
    It could, of course, use more resolution and refinement (it's 6 years old now), so here's to hoping for something amazing on next-gen.
    The way everything looks like it "belongs together" in Rory does such a good job.
    scagwi
    Pure bias if you ask me
    I have videos from my PS4 and Rory from a couple years ago and some of the tee shots absolutely would have passed for "TV broadcast". Just stunning.
    It could, of course, use more resolution and refinement (it's 6 years old now), so here's to hoping for something amazing on next-gen.
    The way everything looks like it "belongs together" in Rory does such a good job.

    Played Rory for the first time in quite a while today. Looks far better than HB's efforts but they need to incorporate something similar to the way HB did the putting.
    lowpaiddonkey10
    Played Rory for the first time in quite a while today. Looks far better than HB's efforts but they need to incorporate something similar to the way HB did the putting.

    Honestly, I'm hoping they are re-thinking everything about the swing in Rory.
    I much much preferred it in the TW games (although it was way too forgiving and easy to hit it perfectly straight).
    The extreme "twitch" and "slam the stick" thing in Rory really wasn't amazing.
    Also, they need to allow one to disable the "bubble" thing.
    I'm reserving all judgment on all that, as EA Tiburon is very experienced and has made some phenomenal EA golf games over the years. Assuming they are empowered correctly, I trust them to hit a home run here.
    scagwi
    Honestly, I'm hoping they are re-thinking everything about the swing in Rory.
    I much much preferred it in the TW games (although it was way too forgiving and easy to hit it perfectly straight).
    The extreme "twitch" and "slam the stick" thing in Rory really wasn't amazing.
    Also, they need to allow one to disable the "bubble" thing.
    I'm reserving all judgment on all that, as EA Tiburon is very experienced and has made some phenomenal EA golf games over the years. Assuming they are empowered correctly, I trust them to hit a home run here.

    Really the thing I’m worried about. Sim players seem to get left in the dust by EA, as they seem to cater towards new players. I found Rory too easy at some point even on higher difficulties.
    The top two things I want are: courses and pros, lots and lots of them. Yes, I know there are created courses in 2K21 that mimic places like Augusta, but they really don't look or feel the same. I want real licensed courses like Pebble Beach, and if they got Augusta, it would make it a slam dunk first-day buy for me. I absolutely love playing Augusta.
    I also want to be able to play as the pros. When you play Madden, don't you choose real-life players to control? Then why can't you play as a real pro in a career mode in a golf game? I'd love to take Jordan Spieth or Tony Finau and make them the greatest ever. There could even be different goals/achievements for each golfer.
    My hope is that we could have a Madden 2005 vs. 2K5 era of golf games. The lack of competition doomed Rory. If EA and 2K try to outdo each other, it could mean great things for us.
    jbd345
    Really the thing I’m worried about. Sim players seem to get left in the dust by EA, as they seem to cater towards new players. I found Rory too easy at some point even on higher difficulties.

    One thing 2K21 does exceptionally well is allow for a wide range of difficulty levels. And it's all customizable. Wanna shoot -20 each round with putt previews? Go ahead. Wanna stress on every shot and hope to break par playing on Legendary difficulty with no green grid, no wind icon, and no swing meter? Done.
    seattleFire
    I've enjoyed 2K21 but it is hampered by the graphics engine, which gives the courses a lifeless post-apocalyptic appearance. Vast tracts of land where nothing lives. Holographic crowds who make no attempt to dodge as the ball flies straight through them. I'm somewhat doubting 2K will change the engine between releases so I'm glad to see EA having a go, hopefully they can create something that feels alive.

    yeah, not enough animations, and the unity engine is garage. Look at TW08 on PC it has more life to it.
    scagwi
    Honestly, I'm hoping they are re-thinking everything about the swing in Rory.
    I much much preferred it in the TW games (although it was way too forgiving and easy to hit it perfectly straight).
    The extreme "twitch" and "slam the stick" thing in Rory really wasn't amazing.
    Also, they need to allow one to disable the "bubble" thing.
    I'm reserving all judgment on all that, as EA Tiburon is very experienced and has made some phenomenal EA golf games over the years. Assuming they are empowered correctly, I trust them to hit a home run here.

    Oh I hate that stupid bubble so much.... I'm not a big fan of the flick either. I thought it was ok on TW13, but with TW14 and Rory, really have to flick it on Expert swing. They did give more dispersion in Rory with the advanced swing in one of the patch. It's similar to what they did at HB with the fast/slow.
    scagwi
    Honestly, I'm hoping they are re-thinking everything about the swing in Rory.
    I much much preferred it in the TW games (although it was way too forgiving and easy to hit it perfectly straight).
    The extreme "twitch" and "slam the stick" thing in Rory really wasn't amazing.
    Also, they need to allow one to disable the "bubble" thing.
    I'm reserving all judgment on all that, as EA Tiburon is very experienced and has made some phenomenal EA golf games over the years. Assuming they are empowered correctly, I trust them to hit a home run here.

    As much as I loved the looks of Rory on my XBox One X, the swing interface didn't do a thing to draw me in for the reasons you stated above. I was holding on to one last ounce of hope that they'd have one more update to provide an option to disable that annoying power bubble, so that I could see if I could somehow get a better experience without it. It never came, and my interest in playing the game died.
    I'm keeping my hopes for this game under wraps until I see that they've taken a new approach to the swing interface. I hope they do something that truly incorporates an intuitive tempo component into it.
    Just dreaming a bit, I think my ideal analog thumbstick interface would be to take Perfect Golf's RTSC (real time swing control) using the thumbstick as the swing control, incorporate a user selectable backswing to downswing speed ratio of 1:3, 1:4, or 1:5 as the leading variable for push/pull. Let the hook/slice be controlled by swing plane, like it does now in Perfect Golf, and maybe improve the degrees of control of normal backswing control by utilizing the higher sampling capability of the next-gen controllers & consoles.
    bigkev
    Oh I hate that stupid bubble so much.... I'm not a big fan of the flick either. I thought it was ok on TW13, but with TW14 and Rory, really have to flick it on Expert swing. They did give more dispersion in Rory with the advanced swing in one of the patch. It's similar to what they did at HB with the fast/slow.

    I'm glad to see more and more over time that I wasn't the only one who felt let down by the "flicky/bubble" aspect of the Rory swing. I would love to have the chance to experience that game with either Tiger Woods 13 or 14's swing interface. Oh, and throw Tiger 10's putting physics and presentation into that mix... I'd still be playing that today if they had! :)
    Certainly hoping for the return of a normal "lobby" for online matchmaking (vs what HB did).
    On the swing comments above - it all sounds good to me, but I do expect EA to "do their own thing". My only hope is that it's a slightly different approach (or very tweaked) from the Rory one.
    Maybe that swing could have been great, but it need more work and revisions and options that we never got.
    I really hope the Tiburon team has played the RTS swing methods in Perfect Golf. There is a lot of great stuff they could and should pull from that. They managed to introduce a lot of variability, subtlety and nuance, all without making it overly complex.

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