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Putting 2017 into Perspective As We Move into the Heart of 2018

Sports Gaming

Putting 2017 into Perspective As We Move into the Heart of 2018

#1 – What was the biggest sports gaming story in 2017?

Kevin Scott

To me, the biggest sports gaming story was 2K’s Run The Neighborhood and how they set the precedent for a MyCareer mode that either requires you to pay for microtransactions or grind for many many hours in order to level up. If this is the future of sports gaming, count me out.

Ben Vollmer

It’s hard not to mention the onslaught of story and career modes that came with 2017. It appears that sports games, rather than focusing on the modes that already exist, are becoming more feature rich. This, in large part, is probably in fear of being left behind. Unfortunately, the cinematic story modes haven’t found a way to seamlessly blend gameplay with narrative yet – leaving all of the story modes feeling a tad out of place.

Elliott Jenkins

The biggest sports gaming story was, in fact, not a sports gaming story. The dramatic overhaul of Star Wars: BattleFront II’s appalling microtransaction system was gigantic. Given sports gaming’s unequivocal shift prioritizing microtransaction-driven modes over the last few years, this tangentially-relevant story appeared to recognize players’ gripes and change a game accordingly. NBA 2K18 was particularly frustrating due to its own microtransaction woes, but the fact that this went to state lawmakers signaled a potentially dramatic shift in the ugly microtransaction world.

Brian O’Neill

I think the biggest sports gaming story of 2017 was the re-emergence of NBA Live. Obviously it’s not perfect, but if they build on what works (The One), there could be real competition on the virtual hardwood again. Healthy competition will hopefully push everyone to innovate, and we as consumers will reap the rewards.

#2 – What was the most overlooked story of 2017?

Kevin Scott

The most overlooked was the just how, um, overlooked franchise modes have become within sports games thanks to the rise of card collecting and MyCareer modes. It would be great to see these make a comeback this year, but I remain skeptical that will be the story of 2018.

Ben Vollmer

The most overlooked story of 2017 will almost assuredly prove to be the microtransaction fiasco taking place in FIFA’s latest entry. With questions over lootboxes and pay-to-win scenarios running wild, it’s hard to imagine a world where card collecting modes don’t get more negative attention. With the FIFA community growing weary of microtransactions, it’s difficult to understand why the game has continued to be held in such high regard.

Elliott Jenkins

In my opinion, the most overlooked story of 2017 was the lack of sports games on the Nintendo Switch. The red-hot console has otherwise completely dazzled the industry, but sports gamers were somewhat left in the dust. FIFA 18 left out a ton of features, the WWE 2K18 port was almost unplayable, and the NBA 2K18 port suffered from severe frame rate issues. Outside of the overhauled NBA Playgrounds, the excellent-but-different Golf Story, the fastest-selling console ever is severely lacking in sports offerings. However, the question is not whether or not the sports titles will arrive on the Switch. It is how well they will play on the console and whether or not they will be worth die-hard sports gamers’ time.

Brian O’Neill

I’m going to play devils advocate and say the most overlooked story of 2017 is microtransactions. Yes, everyone complains about NBA 2K, FIFA, etc. And yes, everything surrounding Battlefront’s launch was appalling. I worry that by the next cycle of games, this all will have blown over and we’ll be right back where we started, if not worse. NBA 2K makes too much money from virtual currency to stop now, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they hiked prices or figured out a way to entice more people to buy in when 2K19 launches. They are in the business of making money, after all. Then when it happens, a few loud voices will complain, but enough people will keep doing it that nothing will change. I hope I’m wrong though.

#3 – What will be the biggest story of 2018?

Kevin Scott

Instead, I think the story of 2018 will be 2K’s new league that is still in the process of getting started right now. So much is riding on whether the league is a success or failure, as the outcome will likely signal the next direction that sports games will take within the E-Sports realm.

Ben Vollmer

The biggest story of 2018 will be the return of an old franchise. It seems too early for any kind of college title to make a comeback, but Microsoft is almost assuredly interested in crafting competition for MLB: The Show. Whether it be the return of MVP Baseball or a first-party baseball game, I think we’ll see one announced to showcase the Xbox One X. There are also rumblings of a return for NBA Jam, and with arcade sports games skyrocketing in popularity, it would be no surprise to see it announced as early as this year.

Elliott Jenkins

While eSports is an easy choice with the Overwatch League’s potential, I agree with Ben that there will be the revival of an older franchise. I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how reboots of Fight Night, NFL Street, and even WWF: No Mercy could rejuvenate a somewhat stale sim-only sports gaming landscape. Tim Kitzrow generated rumblings of a 25th anniversary release of NBA Jam as well, which would be a welcome addition to all consoles. Going off of my previous Nintendo Switch point as well, perhaps an arcade-style gameplay-first franchise revival would be prime for the hybrid console. A direct WWF: No Mercy port to the Switch? Sign me up.

Brian O’Neill

And finally, I’m hopeful that the biggest story of 2018 will be NBA 2K’s eSports league becoming a huge success. I want to be able to tell my son that when he grows up, he can still be a professional basketball player despite the fact that he’s cursed by our family’s gene pool to be short, pudgy and un-coordinated. The sad thing, though, is that to get him to a level even to compete in Pro-Am, I’m gonna have to buy a ton of VC to level his MyPlayer up by Jan 2019, or whenever the next qualifying month is. But it will be money well spent if their league gains enough legitimacy that the mothers and teachers of the world respect “e-sports player” as highly as “doctor” or “lawyer” when it comes to a kid’s career aspirations. Here’s hoping…

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Discussion
  1. 1. MyCareer, for all intents and purposes, being locked behind a pay wall. 
    2. MIcrotransactions, as much press as they received, it wasnt enough. which leads to >
    3. The continued trend of pay to win. I see no end to this anytime soon, and I wont be part of it.  
    Microtransaction are a major problem. Games should not be Pay to Win. 
    And I don't get why people spend $60 on a game, then give a lot more money away to the company to be better. I for one will not waste money like that.
    I'll continue to enjoy my Franchise Modes over collecting cards on a video game.
    Since MUT's most popular competitive mode is a Scary Cap mode, I have hard time calling it pay to win. You earn coins by playing matches or offline challenges. You don't need to pay for coins to build a team to the cap limit.
    I would prefer if MUT and other CCG modes in other sports games were monthly subscriptions. The mode offers a ton of content that is updated often. It costs more money to support than what the $60 price tag offers, especially f they have to make investments in franchise mode and others. But that's not going to happen.
    I just watched the Madden Championship game on ESPN last night. They dedicated 90 minutes to one game between Problem and Gos. It was a flipping fantastic game.If EA can cover more games like that, I think the mode will only get more popular.
    And what many fail to realize is that 90% of the MUT players are not spending money. Yes, you might have to spend some cash to acquire the ultimate cards some of those guys use, but are you really planning on playing at an elite level? For everyday online play, if you stick to salary cap, you are going to face teams no better or worse than your own. Take your time grinding to some of those huge cards.
    But you have to realize, you have 900 points to allocate to 34 players. Early on in the season, it is just 700, then 750. You have time to acquire cards with out spending money. But then, if you get those 50+ cap hit players, you are going to have to skimp on many other positions. I have a salary cap team, by my QB and HB are just 35 and 36 cap hits. If I upgrade them, I need to downgrade maybe 20 points in other positions.
    I think CCG modes need to continue to mature and improve. I would like them to find some other funding, like advertising and broadcast rights, to continue to lower the cost of those spending money on the game.
    The reality is, $60 is no longer the cost of a complete edition of any AAA game. That $60 gets you in the door, and that is because gamers are so averse to price increases, even when development costs skyrocket, along with inflation. And yes, this reality puts franchise modes in the crosshairs of game producers looking to cut costs.
    If EA put out a MUT only game, I would buy that and skip the boring franchise mode altogether. What do you think would happen to the franchise mode of EA went with a MUT only option of the game? Would it make it even two years before getting cut like Head Coach?

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