Next-gen sports games have a formula at this point that has been cultivated through three generations. It involves sweat, sweat and more sweat. I put out a tweet yesterday somewhat in jest, but I did mean it:
Sports games and sweat to show off next-gen, name a more iconic duo.
— Operation Sports (@OperationSports) June 11, 2020
Sweat and next-gen sports games are an iconic duo. Sports games are never the main focus with the launch of new consoles, but they are generally one of the premiere tech showcases for those consoles. And since sports games are released every year, they also tend to have a larger than usual starring role when consoles launch because Sony and Microsoft can count on them to be there for the launch. Plus, sports games sell incredibly well, and so they’re a known commodity that can be trusted at launch.
But the sweat in these games is absurd, and it’s especially absurd when a new console generation starts. Do people sweat a lot in real life when playing sports? Yes. Do you really see it very often when watching the games on TV? No. And you don’t really end up seeing that much sweat in sports video games either except when you go into replays or cutscenes.
It’s why the “tech demo” nature of these trailers is sort of silly on some level. Yes, these players do look amazing, but I’m not going to be seeing them from these views 99 percent of the time because I’ll be playing the game. On top of that, I’m convinced “sweat tech” gets reeled in as the generation goes along when sweat no longer has to sell the “next-gen” visuals anymore.
Regardless, let’s not forget the absurdity of sweat through the next-gen eras here.
I won’t besmirch NBA 2K14 much because the trailer for the game was incredible, but the sweat was also front and center.
I mean James Harden’s entire arm is dripping and glistening here and he’s chilling at the free-throw line. Someone get James a towel!
NBA Live 06
NBA Live 06 was actually patient zero in my book when it comes to sweat and sports games.
The sweat isn’t even dripping off Chauncey Billups here — it’s pooling. I believe almost all the early EA Sports trailers were totally CGI and not in-engine, so it’s almost meta in a way that a “fake” trailer kicked off the Era of Sweat. Sweat did end up being a big thing with NBA Live 06 though, and it was too much of a good thing because it made the players look greasy and plastic.
If there is one game where sweat is acceptable to highlight above all else, it’s in a wrestling video game.
So many wrestlers do actually drench themselves in water and so on to come out looking all sweaty, so this is actually more true to form than anything else on this list. These wrestlers should actually be drenched from the get go, so in this case it works.
Fight Night Round 3
Fight Night Round 3 is a slightly different take on bodily fluids because it wasn’t sweat that was the main seller. Instead, blood and spit were the real sellers here.
So instead of sweat being the main draw (though there was still plenty of it) we get slow-motion knockouts where you see a copious amount of blood, spit and so on fly out of a boxer’s mouth to create a potpourri of disgusting destruction.
Smackdown Vs. Raw 07
This trailer is awkward in the same way the NBA Live 06 one was in retrospect because this was very much a “fake” trailer.
SVR 2007 did not end up looking this good, but still a main selling point here was very much the sweat. Seeing Cena and Angle battle it out was cool, but it would not have looked as good if they did not look like a couple of greased pigs.