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Three Things for 2018: What Sports Games Need More Of The Rest of This Year

Sports Gaming

Three Things for 2018: What Sports Games Need More Of The Rest of This Year

We are now officially in our fifth month of the calendar year, and we have our baseball releases (mostly) behind us. With reviews on both Out of the Park Baseball and Super Mega Baseball 2 coming this upcoming week, we’ll close out the review process on America’s pastime and begin to look forward to the onslaught of fall games coming down the pipe.

Looking ahead to that August – October period where we are barraged by big time games is always fun. Today, I’m going to list three things I’d like to see from our sports games this summer and fall that we haven’t seen enough of recently. Are you ready? Let’s go!

1. Something Completely Unexpected

I know this is as cliche as it gets, and its way too vague to be honest — but its true.

We need something when it comes to modes or gameplay that none of us have thought we needed in sports games, but we actually do. There’s certainly still plenty of room for surprise and intrigue with sports games.

Its been awhile since there’s been a truly shocking reveal of a mode or feature that came out of left field but that changed how we play sports games up to this point. Given the direction we are seeing games go, this is probably an eSports or competitive type of mode surprise. But it’d be even better and more surprising if a single player focused idea stole the show.

What I’d like to see the rest of the way this year is a few really good surprises when it comes to how we play the games. However, major bonus points for surprises of new games being announced in this category as well.

2. Improved Franchise Experiences

The franchise modes in sports games have really began to level off, kind of settling on an artificial and limited experience within the modes.

Sure we have all the team management options you could dream of in many of the modes, and some limited player happiness/personality models — but it feels like everything goes as it should with few huge surprises or story elements in most games.

I feel like games aren’t as aware of the world they create as they should be. For instance, if the Cleveland Browns are doing good in Madden, I really feel like that should be a big part of a franchise mode’s story for the year.

Big storylines like big playoff droughts, the chases to break records, or personnel intrigue is a lot of what makes sports a 24/7/365 experience. It’d be super nice to see those elements really start to invade our franchise modes to bring what is there (and it’s pretty good) alive even more.

3. Better, More Unpredictable AI

I want to acknowledge the progress we’ve made within sports games and having smarter opponents: we’ve truly come a long way.

However, I can’t help but feel we are somewhat stalled in terms of what your opponents are capable of. Opposing coaches rarely do something so unexpected you go “Oh man, didn’t see that coming”.

In the same way, roster moves that are unexpected yet completely sensible are something that rarely happen as well within franchise modes.

My biggest beef with sports gaming AI currently is that the randomness and unpredictability which make sports what they are is oftentimes missing. I know it is a careful balance making sure you don’t introduce too much randomness, but a little bit more of the unexpected while playing our favorite modes would be great for the genre as a whole.


What do you think? What would you like to see out of sports games the rest of this year? Sound off in the comments!



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  1. Totally agree with all 3 points! We need the ability to customize-leagues,Players,etc. If I want a 6 team NHL season why not. Expansion is fine but how about contraction. Retro seasons- why can't I play the 1962 AFL or 1967 NHL or the actual Euroleague if you can do it in OOTP or Strat-O-matic why not in the big consol games. 
    As far as randomness consider Pro Yakuu Spirts I once had a game delayed by rain, resumed, then rained out! This game did it very well so it can be done.
    I'll tell you what sports games DO NOT need - More microtransactions !
    Very nice list. I wonder what a subscription-based annual update/release would look like for games. This would, in essence, allow for carryover saves to happen automatically for franchise players without it even needing to be a new feature. Games like Cities Skylines does this, and it seems to be a nice model. This isn't a new idea, and it's been discussed on these very forums many times, but I defintely on-board with the timing being right. We've definitely shifted to more online content and less games being bought on disc, and this seems to be the next step. Being a "Madden Club Member" might work out well, when we consider how places like Costco handle it with a yearly subscription, to use an example outside of gaming.
    This is a great list though, and I am optimistic for the future. I think eSports are exciting, but I also hope that eSports pave the way for folks to better equip themselves with their own online universes/leagues, as not all of us are cut out for top-tier eSports participation, but it'd still be fun to mimic them...much like the original franchise modes mimicked real life.
    YES.....they have become stale and predictable. i remember the excitement generated by nba 2k11 with the jordan bulls teams, historic teams and jordan challenges. 2k12 even included the nba legends showcase.  if only the show or madden could do the same. 
    and actually old franchise modes use to be more fun  with more options  and now that we have good gameplay and graphics  the options are more limited and the Ai logic probably still same as 7 years ago
    The thing I miss most in sports gaming is actual choices. Used to be we had a few games in each sport. With the dramatic improvements in the games, and the man hours required to develop them, now we are lucky to have one (or maybe two) games per sport. And, as noted above, with the trend toward card collecting and online modes, these are dark days for the offline franchise gamer.

Executive Editor.

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