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.
You can say this award was given to The Show based on it being a weak year for the genre. You could say it was given to The Show because it’s simply consistent every single cycle. You could even say The Show is that comfortable game you can always turn on and play for a bit and know you will at least have a decent time. All of the above would apply, but I think The Show won because it has the best mix of gameplay and content.
The franchise mode is not the best (there is no online franchise mode either), and it does not have the best presentation. However, in every other way, it ranks at the top or near the top in all the big categories. MLB The Show 19 has the best career mode on consoles. It has the best card-collecting mode on consoles. It does not suffer from any online issues that other games in the sports genre don’t have (input lag, frame drops and so on). In short, you can turn the game on and usually find something to do.
For me, that was usually Diamond Dynasty, but for others it could be a variety of other things. Maybe you want to download the newest minor league rosters and start a new franchise. Maybe you want to continue your career mode from last year’s game and continue on your road to the HOF. Maybe you want to check out the new Moments and Inning Programs. The point is this game does the best at trying to cover all its bases, and it does so while delivering gameplay that provides a satisfying hitter-pitcher duel for the majority of people who play it.
No sports game is perfect, and that is especially true this year, but MLB The Show 19 does the best job at trying to provide a simulation baseball experience while still remaining fun to play. This is why it is the Operation Sports Game of the Year for 2019.
Community Vote – Best Sports Game Of 2019
- MLB The Show 19
- NBA 2K20
- Madden NFL 20
The community vote was also dominated by MLB The Show 19. It got 41 percent of the community vote. NBA 2K20 got 20 percent of the vote, and Madden NFL 20 got 13 percent of the vote. I’m not surprised by the first two selections, but I am a little surprised Madden crept up into third place. This may have been due to “other” sports game being right around 10 percent, so the votes were very spread out beyond the first two selections.
NBA 2K20 had a rough launch, and while some people loved the gameplay at the start of the year (myself included), that does not remain as true today. That same gameplay has become irksome for many, and it’s just been a frustrating year overall for the NBA 2K series.
Consistency remains key with The Show. There are plenty of gripes in the community as people desperately want more from franchise mode, and the return of online franchise mode. On top of that, plenty of people complain about the balance of the hitting engine in terms of what percentage of line drives should lead to hits, and just general questions about hitting feedback overall. All that being said, there is a general trust in The Show. You know what you’re getting from the game (for better or worse), and it’s easy to pick up and play each year.
Having the Full Minors is an added advantage for the game that adds on to the year-to-year hold the franchise has on people. Being able to bring saves from game to game, on top of being able to get attached to minor league players, creates an experience where people get truly invested in their players and teams. There’s plenty of work to be done with this series, but I think it’s easy to see a path where The Show has the most successful jump to next-generation consoles.
It’s going to be multi-platform in the next couple years so new audiences will get to play it for the first time in years. On top of that, I think it’s easy to argue it has the most balanced gameplay right now. Big changes absolutely should happen with the gameplay engine, but the point is it feels stable where it is right now. No other game right now has gameplay that is nearly as consistent as The Show.
With The Show, you know what the problems are and there are certainly ways they could be fixed in the future. With every other sports game, the path to excellent and consistent gameplay is not as clear. The audiences for those games are not as united on how the gameplay should work moving forward. You also have more competitive play on those consoles, and so the balance between offline and online AI is another tricky element to balance out.
It’s not that The Show doesn’t have a widespread audience, but people are consistent in what they want on the whole. They want better animations in the field, and they want better hitting feedback to make line drives make more sense. They want pitching to be a little more consistent, and they want a better franchise mode. Lastly, they want more from the presentation.
Be that as it may, people in the community come back to this game more than any other simulation sports game, and that’s why it won the OS Community’s Sports Game of the Year Award.