As we look forward to the upcoming games in 2020, we just wanted to remind everyone that we posted our 2019 Game of the Year Awards throughout the week. These included awards from the staff as well as our community. If you missed out on them, here’s a recap and links to read for each award.
A favorite pastime for many people online is complaining. It’s easy to do, it’s easy to rally people to a cause, and so it’s no surprise that the “Worst Trend In Sports Games” category was among the most popular here on Operation Sports.
That being said, the choice for what was going to win this year was never in doubt. There is an ever-growing sense of unrest among both the staff and community at large that the sports games they love are changing in ways that concern them. This is not a new trend, and it’s not even really surprising considering how long OS has been around. While I have personally migrated to caring more about online franchise modes and card-collecting modes, there is a very vocal group of people on staff and in the community who are very worried about single-player modes getting shafted.
With the holidays in the rear-view mirror and the “best of the year” awards being handed out, it’s time to look to racing games and award a winner. This year, that award falls squarely in the hands of Codemasters and F1 2019 — and rightfully so.
Some years are easier than others to win this award, but in 2019 the racing genre had some incredible games drop on both console and PC. Titles like Dirt Rally 2.0, Assetto Corsa Competizione, WRC 8, Wreckfest, Crash Team Racing and more. Any of these titles offered some incredible value and depth, and very few would have complained if any of these games took home the award for best racer last year.
With our staff voting for Best Career Mode in 2019, it was an extremely close contest. The decision came down to QB1 in Madden NFL 20 versus MLB The Show 19‘s Road to the Show. In the end, Road to the Show won out by a small margin.
I think the right career mode won out in the end, and it’s because RttS is simply the most consistent career mode out there. On top of that, it’s still the only major console sports game carrying over your saves from game to game. Save transferring was an incredible feature when it was first introduced, and it remains an incredible one today. I’m sure it’s not easy to setup the infrastructure to bring saves from game to game, but it’s imperative that more sports games get to this feature at some point. We have been playing yearly sports titles forever, and it’s way past time we got more out of sticking with a gaming franchise year after year.
When it comes to giving out our award for the best Best Alternative Sports Game of 2019, it was another really close vote. Much like our staff deliberations about the Best Career Mode, it was basically a complete 50/50 split. However, in the end Lonely Mountains: Downhill took home the staff vote in this category.
I have been vocal in my support for Lonely Mountains: Downhill, so I’m really stoked it did win out. OS contributor Joe Doyle wrote the review for this incredibly well done mountain biking game back in November, and I think what he talks about within it still remains true. It’s an incredibly intense game if you want it to be, but the vibes and art style also allow it to be a relaxing game if you want it to be that as well.
This is an award we didn’t want to give out this year, but tradition is tradition. So, the Best Franchise Mode of 2019 goes to NBA 2K20‘s MyLeague mode.
Now, I say we didn’t want to give this award out because we’ve already given out our award for Worst Trend in Sports Games, and that went to single-player modes getting shafted. Within that award, one of the core arguments goes back to franchise modes and how they have not been enough of a focus for studios lately.
With NBA 2K20, it’s not that MyLeague was not changed at all, far from it. The issue is 2K did their 2K thing where it was just very buggy. It still remains buggy months later, but it has been somewhat improved since a rough launch.
The Best Sports Game of 2019 is MLB The Show 19. There was little to no argument from anyone on staff about this, and the same goes for the community vote. This should not come as a surprise to anyone who has been following our other awards because The Show has picked up the most awards in the lead up to this result.