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Many People Don't Play Multiple Seasons in Games Like The Show or NHL, Here's How to Change That

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Many People Don't Play Multiple Seasons in Games Like The Show or NHL, Here's How to Change That

Its fine to admit you are among the vast sum of sports gamers who simply do not play multiple years of franchise modes.

It is also perfectly fine to admit that while you are one of the many who also simulate huge chunks of time in the hopes of playing more than a few years, you want more control when you do that.

Over the years, franchise modes have been built with tons of features in mind to build up a team and see how you would fare over multiple seasons as a GM-type of roster builder (but still controlling the action on the field). That being said, I don’t think it’s shocking that since players don’t progress much through the mode itself that game companies don’t spend as much time trying to make franchise modes hold up over many seasons.

The problem is simple: 162 games, or 82 games, or 41 games, or even 16 games are tough to slog through season after season, especially for the growing number of gamers who are feeling the time crunch thanks to doing the blasphemous thing of growing older. But there are far better ways to save time, allow for more control over the experience than is available now all while still simulating chunks of a season.

Here are some ideas.

End The Game-Menu-Game Flow

One of the biggest complaints I have about franchise modes is that there is a necessity to go back to the menu before hopping into the next game. I feel like it’s not crazy to expect to be able to finish one game, and then have some basic options in between to manage basic items while loading up your next game without returning to a main menu. Other genres seem to have mastered this flow.

The Show allows this for series of games, but you still have the same old game-menu-game flow to go from series to series.

A franchise mode that one day offers near-instant movement between games is one that’s going to capture a lot of hearts.

A Better Super Sim

The super-sim model has been a fantastic addition to sports games and makes progressing through games WAY better than it used to be. What I’d like is to see a better super sim that gives users input on when they want to jump into games and when they want to leave them alone.

Let’s roll with an NBA franchise mode as an example for this section. What if it were possible to set sim stops to allow you the option to jump into a game if you got down big at halftime so you could attempt a comeback or jump into a close game with six minutes left? You can already jump into simmed games as they happen in certain titles, so this is just a way to further quicken the pace by setting benchmarks for when you want to jump into a game but allow for super fast simming otherwise.

On that same token, this fictionalized sim engine would also be customizable for roster moves. If a guy gets hurt, you can stop the sim and seamlessly adjust your rotation without halting the whole sim up to go and make these changes before starting it back up. And of course, just like with the in-game flow of a franchise mode, you’d move from game to game seamlessly without having to click the controller a bunch of times.

Such an engine put into any sport’s game would allow the folks who like to sim chunks of their experience (*raises hand*) to move through much more time in each sitting, and would still give you a lot of control over how your team is doing.

Compressing The Offseason

Offseasons can sometimes be terrible slogs in sports games. I get the importance of the offseason, but I’d think a two-tiered option for an offseason experience would be ideal.

For the gamer who wants to move through an offseason quickly but still retain control, what about a “Quick Offseason” setting?

In this option, you’d move through options piecemeal to set up your franchise. NCAA Football did it this way vs. the calendar system many games use today. Basically you’d have some combo of draft then free agent signings then staff signings as a three-step-or-so process that’d be a lot more streamlined than the current model.

I get the desire for realism, but a truly realistic experience would have you waiting sometimes weeks in real time to hear back from players. We’re already compressing the timeline a lot, so why not go all-in on that but still give players the ability to retain the same control they’ve always had? Just a thought.

Ability To Allow The AI To Better Manage Aspects Of The Franchise

A real GM doesn’t do everything, but it seems like sports games sometimes force you to do everything.

My idea here is a better model that allows you to set individual options for what you want out of each department within your franchise — like in real life. Scouting is something that, if you want full manual control over it you can have it.

But if you are in a hurry and want to simply move through seasons, why not have the ability to set the AI to fully manage the scouting based upon the priorities you set?

This could be the same for things like lineups and rotations for coaches.

The crazy thing about this is it would also really add a touch of realism in the sense that who you hire as a coach, assistant coach, etc. actually matters when it comes to things like player morale, and how effective rotations are. Some games are closer to achieving this than others, but it’s hard to find a game where you trust the AI to effectively do these things currently.

A Simplified Attributes Exterior

I can’t be the only one that thinks that sports games sometimes get a little too detailed for their own good for the more casual user.

And to be clear I’m not arguing for getting rid of attributes or hiding any — I am a believer that if full transparency is what someone desires they should get it. But what about a simplified player attributes view?

For a game like Madden this would look like some combo of the following:

Joe QB

  • 83 Ovr
  • 69 Speed (Combo of Speed Attributes like Acceleration, Speed, Agility)
  • 78 Strength (Combo of Physical Attributes)
  • 82 Passing (Combo of All the Passing Attributes)
  • 74 Football IQ (Awareness and Perhaps Ball Security Type of Attributes)

Either way as it stands now you are going to be clicking a lot of buttons to get the full attributes, but for folks in a time crunch just wanting the basics, they’d get that. For those wanting a deeper view, they would have a better overall ability to see attributes parsed by skill type.

Simplify Roster Management To Just A Couple Of Screens

How many franchise modes have screens for lineups, depth charts, contract information, trades and free agents?

What if you had a single menu that was able to combine all of these into a single view to allow you to see more information at once, but in a cleaner and more simplified method?

As a bonus point, your scout or coach could give you their assessment of each position and your team needs all in one spot where you could then push a button to see all available free agents or trade targets for that position.

Imagine looking over your depth chart and seeing your manager say your infield depth sucks and you need a secondary infielder. You then push a button to open up the “find player” view where you are greeted with a list of players that would fit this need within your budget (which this list is determined by how good your scouts and coaches are because…realism!).

Of course you could expand the view to all available players and sort them how you like, but having the AI help you out on some of this stuff makes a lot of sense to simplify and expedite a lot of the processes gamers in a hurry will find very helpful and not overwhelming.

Franchise Modes Are Great, But They’re Built On A Model Founded In The ’90s

The biggest beef I have with franchise modes is they are largely built on a model that was originally coined in the ’90s. The spreadsheet based, multiple button push combination with multiple menus to accomplish singular tasks is a model I think we should have evolved beyond by now.

NBA 2K has done a wonderful job with MyGM in terms of adding amazing new features for gamers willing to stick out several seasons, but the basic model of the mode is still built on a very familiar foundation, as one example.

I think it is time for sports games to innovate the very fundamentals of what make a franchise mode a franchise mode, and for companies to rethink even the most basic aspects of the modes.

For many gamers, franchise modes are effectively season modes — and for franchise modes to thrive in the future, more gamers need to find themselves on season 10 vs. season one eventually.

What ideas do you have to improve franchise modes in sports games?

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  1. Disagree quite a lot with the whole premise. It isn't the playing or the siming aspect it's the lack of customization and the lack of depth.  I only played one full season in NHL because players I wanted for season two where missing and I couldn't edit generic names. When I last finished a season of FIFA 16 with Monaco I didn't even get into season two because PSG had lost a ton of players and was already a distant second meaning I had no challenge at all. It wan't realistic and it was too limited. No one person has a catch all reason for why we don't play more franchise, but stripping these modes and making them less time consuming is not going to help make them better modes. I'd rather spend more real time and less virtual time with a good in depth Football Manager type mode than the weak gruel of most franchise modes, particularly those of EA. 
    In FIFA I would finish multiple seasons. My issue with the NHL series is that I just can't stay interested in the game long enough to make it through even one. With The Show it's generally related to the length of baseball seasons. I've had a year or two where I would get maybe 1 to 2 seasons past the first one, but with baseball there was definitely a lot of simming.
    In EA's NHL there's the general delay for the first month or so where you have to wait to get everyone in the game because of roster release issues. Even when I wasn't turned off within a week by the gameplay itself, I had to do one of two things: Accept the incomplete rosters as they were, and just go forward with that (not fun when your team has a bunch of rookie call ups or players from Europe joining the team) or I had to wait forever to get the latest rosters and hope they were good enough. Another potential issue was trade deadline. If my team made some big trades, I often wanted to make similar trades in my game. But I couldn't force trades for myself and other teams, so there I was, restarting the season again.
    If EA allowed access to a roster share and better player creation tools, those are largely issues that could be worked around by the community. Sadly, given the current state of the NHL series in particular, I don't see that change coming anytime soon. 
    I am playing a second season in The Show and plan to continue that franchise to it's end for one simple reason--you can continue your franchise in next year's game. It would be hard to be in the middle of a season in 2K18 (for example), and want to continue playing it on 2K18 after 2K19 gets released. If they allowed for old files to be continued, I would play franchises through in every sport.
    It's so funny, even in your open analysis of people who "simply do not play multiple years of franchise modes" you then go ahead and literally ignore people who simply do not play multiple years of franchise modes.
    Many people do what I do and the industry and its journalism ignores us completely. I take any game, I play one season from opening day with decent opening season rosters, I go to the playoffs (or don't, depending on my team) and when it ends, I either stop completely or try again with a different team I like. I don't want anything "progressing", "developing", "growing", "training", or players acting like "people" because in 30 years of sports games not a single game has accurately replicated human behaviour. Not one. That doesn't mean it can't be fun to some people, I can see very clearly that people love this stuff, or that it isn't exactly what they want. So I say play on, and play how you like, that's great. But it isn't real sports simulation and that's why a lot of us, typically older sports gamers, don't like franchises.
    Anyway, I just found it funny that the title purports to suggest ways to "fix" those people who don't play multiple seasons in sports games. Like, we're the ones missing out. I see this sense of animosty towards not only myself but to all people who like to play like this by the industry and even by some other gamers who would love for us to stop whining about how much we hate Ultimate Team and continuing franchise modes.
    Ultimately this is what I simply don't understand... are you really finishing 20 seasons of a franchise? Do you even have any real players by year 5 left in the game? "Well no, I simulate most of the games, I don't actually play them"... ok, then why does the game have to change for people who aren't even playing each match? I just don't get it but I guess, like many things, it simply is what it is.
    It's a tough subject. I think stripping Franchise down or streamlining it even further would result in a "Season" mode. Some of the suggestions you came up with are pretty good.
    Playing MLB: The Show I have a few house rules to get me through a season or two:
    1. In a tie game, I hit and pitch.
    2. If I'm winning, I'll just pitch
    3. If I'm losing, I'll just bat
    4. In a three-game series against a division rival, I will play two of the game. All other teams I will play one of the games.
    That has helped me get through seasons quicker while also having an impact. I do like your suggestion of not having to return to a load screen after every game. RTTS is like that, hopefully, they can incorporate that into the Franchise Mode.
    I get my GM fix from OOTP anyway.
    The guy above nailed it.   Btw most of the authors suggestions to “fix” franchise  that he says nobody plays are already in Madden   I believe franchise needs to be deeper not more shallow.  Does the author not understand that when your franchise takes on a personal feel to it then it goes to another level. Sort of what MUT is trying to accomplish.  But MUT is flawed because you can just buy a team.  Not build one. 
    The way the show has the ability to continue your franchise every year seems to me to be the closest solution to get me through more years but one thing stops me from actually doing it. We need the ability to import player faces that SCEA do every version onto created players. It may seem dumb but I just can’t continue a franchise where I have a created player  face when  there is an official photo realistic version available. I guess I’m shallow lol.
    tinpanalley

    Many people do what I do and the industry and its journalism ignores us completely. I take any game, I play one season from opening day with decent opening season rosters, I go to the playoffs (or don't, depending on my team) and when it ends, I either stop completely or try again with a different team I like.

    Yes, I am in the same boat. I just play one season, then start over with a new team. I understand the appeal to the General Manager aspect of sports, and I am glad sports video games offer if for those who are interested. But for a number of reasons, I have just never been able to get into them myself. The biggest reason is probably the fact that I spend much of the day at my job looking at spreadsheets....so in my free time, I don't really want to negotiate contracts, plan a salary cap or map out team needs. I also don't like simming games which makes it challenging with time constraints.
    The only sports franchises I've ever finished multiple franchise/dynasty seasons in is NCAA Football and NCAA basketball. Maybe that's because you're only playing 14/35 games a season and your roster turns over every 4 years, but it just seemed fun to complete years for me. I'd actually WANT to get to the off-season in those games.
    Nowadays though I can't even be bothered to finish an entire season in most sports games I play. It's just a labor intensive grind because I feel like I need to play full length (or near full length) games to get accurate stats, especially with a game like NBA 2k. With pro sports games I'm constantly trying to trade guys to fill holes and make my lineup "that much" better that it ends up taking me forever just to finish a month of a season.
    I play NBA 2k a lot, so I'd love some options:
    1) Allow me to immediately load up the next game on the schedule from the end game menu of the previous game. That way I'm skipping a few minutes of load times.
    2) Let me "redo" a simulation as many times as I want without having to reload the entire save. It can be an option you can turn off/on in the settings area so not everyone has to use it if they don't want. Sometimes I just want to sim past the (insert bad team here) and not have to worry about being upset when I know I'd roll them if I played myself. I know some people would think that was "cheating", but it's my franchise and I can do whatever I want in it.
    I think both of those things would allow me to get through more seasons and in the end make the entire experience more enjoyable.
    tinpanalley

    Anyway, I just found it funny that the title purports to suggest ways to "fix" those people who don't play multiple seasons in sports games. Like, we're the ones missing out. I see this sense of animosty towards not only myself but to all people who like to play like this by the industry and even by some other gamers who would love for us to stop whining about how much we hate Ultimate Team and continuing franchise modes.

    Did you read the article or just the title? Because I think you completely missed the entire point of this article. It's not to "fix" you. It's to "fix" the franchise modes in these games to help more people who play them finish more seasons.
    If you only want to play one season, that's wonderful. I've never heard of anyone who has animosity towards you because of that. I mean, we still have single season modes in every sports game I've ever played because of people like yourself who enjoy them.
    most of the things you mention still exist or have existed in prior games.
    NFL football is a non issue for me.16 games isnt much. just let us be able to set the simmed minutes for the entire league so stats can reflect this.
    as far as the Show. they are on the right track with being able to carry over seasons, but what they need to do is implement a myleague type of feature. give us all the dynasty/gm features with the ability to play a shorter season, and customize tasks
    NBA 2k is there already with my league. they just need toa dd a few more user settings. things like being able to set teh foul amount before you get into a bonus would go a long way.
    total customization in a franchise mode would get more multiple seasons.
    with that said, gameplay is the end all be all. Im still playing NBA2k15 because IMO the gameplay represents today's NBA and the stats are spot on. I play 82 games.
    The SHOW I play 29 games with just a draft.
    CHk28 and NCAA college football 11 and 14 no issues what so ever.
    bdsopgalaxy
    I am playing a second season in The Show and plan to continue that franchise to it's end for one simple reason--you can continue your franchise in next year's game. It would be hard to be in the middle of a season in 2K18 (for example), and want to continue playing it on 2K18 after 2K19 gets released. If they allowed for old files to be continued, I would play franchises through in every sport.

    I agree 1000%. The first thing to fix the lack of playing multiple seasons is exactly this, allowing to continue our franchises files from last years game. Essentially being forced to restart our franchises each year is probably the single biggest reason most people don't play multiple years in any sports franchise. After they fix that, then yes work on this list.
    Great article and great ideas, but us as sports gamers need to demand/request year to year saves in all sports games before these ideas are our focus. They are useless if we can't continue our progress in the next game.
    The Show became by go to game because of the carry over save feature. I’ve played all 162 games the last 3 years. The game play is simple but challenging so I keep coming back for more.
    I quit playing NBA 2k due to lack of carry over feature. NCAA basketball would have been my go to if it still existed. I could get deep in a franchise.
    NHL no longer play it even though it should be one of the most fun games. Just don’t like the EA product. Carry over saves again would help.
    Madden, playing the computer is boring on all pro and all madden is garbage. I not longer have the time or energy for slideritis. Plus patch free patch means soon as slider are good things change. That said I can play multiple season easy with friends or in online franchise. NCAA was my preferred game by a mile.
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports
    I really thought this article would go a different direction. Here’s the long and short of it for me...at this point in my life, (early 30s with a family) I can’t possibly play as much as I did as a kid or in college. So, in NHL and MLB I rarely ever get past one season. There’s one simple fix that for whatever stupid reason, developers don’t give us. Let us change the number of games per season. It’s that simple. In Madden and NCAA, (which I still play) I have no problem rolling season after season. 12/16 game seasons are easy to get through. What’s the harm in NHL or MLB letting us play a 30/29 game (I’m thinking NBA Jam-style, play everyone once) season? Why does it HAVE TO be 82/162? I absolutely refuse to sim games. Having computer-generated stats for my team absolutely kills the experience for me and I refuse to do it. But, I couldn’t care less about playing the exact real-life schedule. The real schedules disappear after year 1 anyway. I’ve never for the life of me been able to figure out why shorter seasons in franchise aren’t an option. It’s even more maddening that The Show lets you change the season length for season mode, but not franchise. I like having GM control of my team and playing the offseasons. I’m just not going to ever get through more than one 82 or 162 game schedule in one year. It’ll never happen.
    I don't think that the reason people tap so quickly in Franchise Modes is that they can't get through enough seasons quickly enough, but rather that there's just no reason to keep going.
    These modes are dull, boring, and lifeless for the most part. There's no thread to follow, most of them do a poor job with recognizing the history that you create in your league, and in the case of Madden, there are not many opportunities to make the mode your own with customization.
    NBA 2K does the best, but even then, I'd say the immersion could be way better than it is now.
    brianski71
    Let us change the number of games per season. It’s that simple. In Madden and NCAA, (which I still play) I have no problem rolling season after season. 12/16 game seasons are easy to get through. What’s the harm in NHL or MLB letting us play a 30/29 game (I’m thinking NBA Jam-style, play everyone once) season? Why does it HAVE TO be 82/162? I absolutely refuse to sim games.

    YES!!! This has also been a thorn in my side for a long time...and has been a reason that i haven't purchased certain titles over the years. Short seasons were around in the Genesis days, so can't be that hard for today's developers.
    brianski71
    In Madden and NCAA, (which I still play) I have no problem rolling season after season. 12/16 game seasons are easy to get through. What’s the harm in NHL or MLB letting us play a 30/29 game (I’m thinking NBA Jam-style, play everyone once) season? Why does it HAVE TO be 82/162?

    MLB 2K games allowed this. The problem is, which I assume would be the case for The Show as well, all it does is remove games from the schedule, not shorten the schedule. As the user, you no longer need more than 2-3 SP & RP, but the AI still carries a full staff and rotates through all 5.
    horrormaster
    MLB 2K games allowed this. The problem is, which I assume would be the case for The Show as well, all it does is remove games from the schedule, not shorten the schedule. As the user, you no longer need more than 2-3 SP & RP, but the AI still carries a full staff and rotates through all 5.

    Agreed. I was on the "honor system" with MLB 2K, and rotated through all my pitchers. But it would be nice if the developers took the extra step to make sure things like fatigue are adjusted appropriately.
    I play multiple seasons in every sports game I play, but I love several of your ideas. The problem, as I see it, is that the developer has to care. Why would EA, or any other company, care whether people play multiple years or not? The goal these days, judging from the annual "improvements," are the card collecting modes, the HUTs, MUTs, and whatever else, that involve microtransactions. I do not see any desire by developers to improve franchise much, so I suspect your ideas will fall on deaf ears (consider the annual improvements to franchise mode in NHL or The Show - have there been any of significance in five years?)
    brianski71
    It’s even more maddening that The Show lets you change the season length for season mode, but not franchise. I like having GM control of my team and playing the offseasons. I’m just not going to ever get through more than one 82 or 162 game schedule in one year. It’ll never happen.

    In case you don't know, The Show's season mode allows multiple seasons. It's basically "Franchise lite". So you can do offseason and move on to the next year. You do lose the minors though. You just have a 40 man roster to manage.
    horrormaster
    MLB 2K games allowed this. The problem is, which I assume would be the case for The Show as well, all it does is remove games from the schedule, not shorten the schedule. As the user, you no longer need more than 2-3 SP & RP, but the AI still carries a full staff and rotates through all 5.

    The show actually shortens the season so you play almost everyday just as teams do in real life.
    On a similar note something that has annoyed me since... well... forever because no game has ever offered this, is that no baseball game has EVER allowed you to go to a 4 man rotation in the playoffs and allowed you to restart that rotation in the next round. No game. Ever. It's simply something that's never been done and I don't get how anyone making a baseball game could miss one of the most relevant things that happens in the playoffs which is the sorting of the regular season rotation and the importance of playoff round first game starters. The tricks I've had to do for over 10 years to get the other teams to restart their rotations in each new round have been inventive but annoying.
    Nice job with this, Chris.
    To me the way we improve franchise mode is quite simple: It needs to be built around community.

    • Allow for community modding (just look at what the Steam Workshop has provided)
    • Allow commissioners and other members to publish podcasts and other material
    • A mobile app to access the league basics and a league website (auto-generated and can be further customised)
    • Allow for carryover so that leagues can easily and accurately (very important) transition from year-to-year
    • Obviously a fully-featured online franchise mode for the particular game
    • A direct link to a YouTube and/or Steam channel which would auto-broadcast games from that league, or other content folks may want to share (offseason plans, etc.)
    • The game studio should spotlight certain leagues each week ala NBA2K TV. Heck, OS could be a pioneer in that venture.
    • Game studios should add in an eSports element where the best (most active and creative?) leagues are covered and eventually play in a yearly tournament against other leagues

    These are just a few off the top of my head to go along w the ideas Chris (OP) has shared. It's time, and folks are ready. This and many of the other ideas shared in this thread could be a framework for Franchise Mode 2.0.
    EA, 2K, SDS: If you build it...they will come.
    Franchise Modes is mostly what I play so I get thru several seasons before getting a new game (which isn't every year).
    But some of these would be really nice additions. Being able to edit draft prospects (like NBA 2K), is something I like to do. And shortcuts for things like the offseason would be nice.
    The thing I really like that they mentioned was a quicker way to create/edit a player. I know this was in an older (college) sports game. Where you could pick a play style and it would adjust his ratings to that and then you could tweak the ratings. That would save a lot of time when creating prospects. You could select a pass first PG with a A rating (J Kidd) and it would adjust to that, or a defensive minded Center with a C rating (T Chandler) that wouldn't be more average overall.
    Amen, it's like the writer has met me personally and is telling my story.
    Less time now in my early 30s due to work and family make the effort of starting a franchise seem not worth it. Started a Browns career last week on Madden on my day off, got through 2 seasons in about 5 hours, that was simming all games. I do not feel like it was an awesome experience and am not feeling the itch to spend any more time playing this career. Give me NCAA Football however and its a different story. The career mode is simple and to the point.
    In summary, yes, I feel that games expanding modes, and my shortage of spare time, deters me from purchasing games, and also starting a mega franchise mode within them.
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