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What Is the Future of Golf Games? (Roundtable)

Everybody's Golf

What Is the Future of Golf Games? (Roundtable)

Kevin Scott

I’ve never really been the biggest fan of golf games but recently picked up The Golf Club 2 on a bit of a lark and was blown away by just how far golf games have come. One of the biggest problems with golf games I’ve played in the past has been just how easy they are once you’ve put in a little bit of time to learn the mechanics, eventually granting you an unrealistic amount of control on your shots.

Not so with The Golf Club 2. It’s a challenging experience that will quickly have you realizing how difficult it can be to just hit a shot straight. Any deviation from pushing the control stick straight down and then back up will see you slicing or hooking the ball left or right, and facing a difficult recovery. But it’s more rewarding rather than frustrating, as you try to replicate any success you have with the clubs and get into a groove.

And the putting! Even though it uses a typical grid of the green to help you adjust your shot accordingly, it’s more intuitive than usual. Golf games have a tendency to turn into math games when calculating for wind, lie, green breaks and a variety of other factors but The Golf Club 2 makes it more of an organic experience accounting for these variables in all of your shots.

But perhaps the best part of The Golf Club 2 is the online societies so you can see how you measure up against other people. There are societies for pretty much every skill level, and if you’re up for a real challenge, you can even join tgctours.com and play in automated cross-platform events where you can be promoted and demoted based on your performance.

Elliott Jenkins

Golf is a very curious sport when it comes to video games. A golf game only needs two things to be great: rock-solid gameplay and an enthralling environment. Think about previous elite golf titles through the years, such as NES Golf, Mario Golf, Tiger Woods 2004, and Tiger Woods 2007. All of them still hold up today for those two reasons. Golf does not necessarily need the perennial updates expected from Madden, The Show and 2K. If anything, it is the one sport that could really benefit from a subscription-based model that brings in consistent and seasonal updates. Rainbow Six: Siege could be a great blueprint as it was a strong core game at launch with consistent years now of game-expanding DLC.

With that in mind, current offerings are fairly diverse even with the most recent AAA golf game’s release dating back to July of 2015. Rory McIlroy’s PGA Tour is a much different game after its disastrous feature-stripped launch. The digital version retails for $20 (currently on sale for a whopping $5 on PSN as well as part of EA Access on Xbox One) and feels much more complete for those approaching the game for the first time. The Golf Club 2 is arguably the most sound and feature-rich but lacks any licensed golfers, gear or courses. Golf Story is its own unique RPG experience that actually packs in a fun, arcade-style experience. And, of course, there’s always Neo Turf Masters, the Neo Geo masterpiece from the mid-90s that can be had now — for less than whatever your lunch cost — on both Android and iOS.

EA could certainly stand to release a feature-filled golf behemoth in the next year or so. However, as we have seen with countless microtransaction-plagued releases over the last few years, they will need to do it very carefully to not lose more potential customers to other titles in what is a surprisingly varied golf video game marketplace.

Matt Llwellyn

Tiger Woods’ fall from grace was the beginning of the end for licensed golf games. Sure, EA released a game featuring Rory McIlroy but it wasn’t quite the same. The Golf Club and its sequel presented a fairly decent golf sim with the added benefit of a deep course creator, but without real world golfers, it’s lacking a soul. Enter, Everybody’s Golf.

It’s a spiritual successor to the highly successful Hot Shot’s Golf series and it’s everything I’ve wanted and more in a golf game. It has vibrant graphics, deep yet accessible gameplay, and is just tons of fun. It may not be the licensed AAA behemoth that Tiger once was, but it’s the best thing going on the links today.

Ben Vollmer

As someone who purchased every Tiger Woods title available, I would have thought this generation of golf games would be largely disappointing. Instead, I’ve found the opposite: the lack of a AAA golf game has resulted in me experimenting with indie titles. Among my favorites are Powerstar Golf, Golf Story and Everybody’s Golf. When you throw the aforementioned Golf Club on top, this generation has actually been really strong for golf titles.

I miss simulation golf, particularly now when hardware is so ripe for a gorgeous and realistic looking title, but there’s something appealing about the smaller scale of something like Golf Story — which felt like the Caddyshack game I always wanted. There is a ton of really strong humor and it’s perfect to pick up and play for half an hour or so on the Switch. The game seemed to have enough success worthy of a follow up, so I have my fingers crossed for that.

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  1. I do not own Everybody's Golf, but I can say that is not the answer for me. At all. Especially being PS4 only.
    TGC 2019 appears to creep closer to what I am looking for with licensed courses and I am going to speculate they may add a licensed PGA TOUR Golfer or two down the line as there appears to be some licensed content (NOT Pay to Win) in the game that might lead to licensed golfers in the near future.
    DivotMaker
    I do not own Everybody's Golf, but I can say that is not the answer for me. At all. Especially being PS4 only.
    TGC 2019 appears to creep closer to what I am looking for with licensed courses and I am going to speculate they may add a licensed PGA TOUR Golfer or two down the line as there appears to be some licensed content (NOT Pay to Win) in the game that might lead to licensed golfers in the near future.

    Golf is a very personal sport. So to me, the inclusions of listened golfers is a non starter. I want to play golf as myself. The reason we play golf anyway is to beat ourselves. I don’t see any value in playing as Tiger, Phil or any other pro. I guess if I’m playing offline in a career mode then playing against them is something that I would do. But I can do that already with TG2. Listened courses would be nice, but again, we have some AMAZING designers in TG2 making all those courses already. Just take a look at the Augusta course! ( members).
    TG2 has it all and TGC2019 will just make a great game even greater!
    lions67
    I guess if I’m playing offline in a career mode then playing against them is something that I would do. But I can do that already with TG2.

    I didn't know that.
    TGC 2 has real pro golfers in there to compete against?
    DivotMaker
    No. You have to create them.

    Bummer.
    It would be pretty cool if they could access a data source from the tour each week and have "play vs the pros" and tie it into a career mode in the game.
    scagwi
    Bummer.
    It would be pretty cool if they could access a data source from the tour each week and have "play vs the pros" and tie it into a career mode in the game.

    That might require an official PGA TOUR license to have that functionality "in-game". On top of that, it would require PGA TOUR Pros agree to it each individually as there is no PGA TOUR Players Union like the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL.....in other words, not likely to happen.
    I'm playing The Golf Club 2 regularly in Society tournaments mostly. I play three different Societies a week, including the HB Studios official Open to All Society. The tempo dependent swing interface gives the game a bit of depth that I currently find lacking in other analog swing interfaces. TGC 2 is very shallow in the online multiplayer department, but they're taking major steps to eliminate that in their forthcoming TGC 2019 game.
    I own Everybody's Golf and play it occasionally, but its non real time, 3-click swing interface doesn't engage me that much and just simply feels outdated. This game seems like a step back from Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational on the PS3, which had a real time, meterless (for the power click anyway) 3-click interface that required the player to watch the golfer's swing for gauging the power. I found it to be a lot more engaging than the throwback 3-click meter we have now. It looks pretty good though, but honestly, not as much better than the PS3 version as I'd have imagined.
    I had some hope for Perfect Golf 2 at one point on PC, XBox One, and PS4. Now I'm not holding out much hope for Perfect Golf 2 on anything other than the Trackman Simulator, now that Trackman has bought Perfect Parallel, PG's developer. It *may* come about on the PC someday, but not anytime soon. I'm confident we'll never see PG 2 on the consoles though. It's a shame because I think PG 2 held more promise for realism for non-simulator use, but it's not gonna happen.
    I would like for a game to be the more advanced version of Tiger Woods series with licensed content (courses & players), enhanced career mode. Rory McIlroy PGA Tour was way too limited in terms of modes and content but it had potential. I'm wary of TGC 19 as the developer (HB Studios) has already hinted about paid DLC for courses. I don't want to pay for the mainstream courses as I expect them to be either in the game or be added later on as a free DLC. I don't like the concept of paid DLCs as it sets a precedent for developers releasing a bare-boned game expecting to charge consumers for the stuff that should've already been there.
    nice write up.
    I personally believe that there are enough golf games for everyone's tastes.
    my favorite golf game is still hot shots golf four. the game offers enough realism for my tastes. wind, weather etc all play a factor. the game settings for traditional and advanced swings are enough to keep the hard core sim gamers satisfied.
    also the stat tracking is a nice little touch for game that is supposed to be light hearted and arcade y.
    hole in ones, eagles etc are still hard to come by, reading the green is still challenging. I find it as challenging at times as some of the sim golf games.
    its also a great game in group settings.
    tril
    nice write up.
    I personally believe that there are enough golf games for everyone's tastes.
    my favorite golf game is still hot shots golf four. the game offers enough realism for my tastes. wind, weather etc all play a factor. the game settings for traditional and advanced swings are enough to keep the hard core sim gamers satisfied.
    also the stat tracking is a nice little touch for game that is supposed to be light hearted and arcade y.
    hole in ones, eagles etc are still hard to come by, reading the green is still challenging. I find it as challenging at times as some of the sim golf games.
    its also a great game in group settings.

    Hot Shots Golf: Fore was indeed a fine arcade golf game. I liked to mostly for its introduction of Advanced swings. It also did indeed work best in group settings, of any title in the Hot Shots golf series. It befuddles me how they can regress from this!?
    Hi Alfie,
    Nothing's been decided yet. Definitely appreciate the comments. We still have more content to announce for TGC 2019 which will be all part of the launch game, I don't think anyone will be disappointed.
    Cheers.
    HB_Alan
    Hi Alfie,
    Nothing's been decided yet. Definitely appreciate the comments. We still have more content to announce for TGC 2019 which will be all part of the launch game, I don't think anyone will be disappointed.
    Cheers.

    Alan, when do you anticipate we'll be able to see a screenie, or better yet a video clip or two showing TGC 2019's implementation of SpeedTrees? I think that's when we're going to see a marked uptick in the buzz about the forthcoming game.
    Hi John, I don't have a definite date. We ported all our custom code over to Unity 2018 first, and rolled it out to the team. Next up was SpeedTree integration and they have them now working well in the backgrounds, next step is obviously the foreground work. Once ready, though, we'll put out some new screens or vids, probably as part of the Dev Talk vid series which we're doing every week (which OS kindly published, thanks guys!).
    Alan: Will the real course recreations look very much like the real things?
    I guess what I am asking is: Will you guys at HB be doing things to more fully recreate the real courses than is possible with the normal designer/tools that the average user will have access to?
    Custom look/things for that course, etc?
    I hope so, yes! We're still building them. Two key differences will be we are importing high detail topo data for the fairways, greens and traps; and second, yes we are building some custom 3D assets like clubhouses and other course furniture. So overall, they will be more authentic than what you will see from the normal designer tools.
    HB_Alan
    I hope so, yes! We're still building them. Two key differences will be we are importing high detail topo data for the fairways, greens and traps; and second, yes we are building some custom 3D assets like clubhouses and other course furniture. So overall, they will be more authentic than what you will see from the normal designer tools.

    Awesome to hear!
    Different trees/foliage that's specific to unique courses?
    Perhaps that's a "see if you need it as you go" sort of thing?
    Hey Alan - anything you can speak to regarding swing or gameplay mechanics? Will there be any changes to the green texture, etc? Us no grid guys (true sim tour on tgctours btw) love seeing a "clean" green, but more textures to determine slope, etc, are always welcome. I personally would just love a caddie book that I can include in the courses played, etc. I'm a glutton punishment though lol :)
    Thanks again for openly discussing what you can with us!
    Matt10
    Hey Alan - anything you can speak to regarding swing or gameplay mechanics? Will there be any changes to the green texture, etc? Us no grid guys (true sim tour on tgctours btw) love seeing a "clean" green, but more textures to determine slope, etc, are always welcome. I personally would just love a caddie book that I can include in the courses played, etc. I'm a glutton punishment though lol :)
    Thanks again for openly discussing what you can with us!

    I'm not currently a TGC player but I have to really echo this comment about the greens/textures in general.
    Some fresh variety there would be most welcome.
    Please take no offense Alan, but often times I see shots of the greens in particular and I think of Mario Golf. That's a tad hyperbolic, so pardon me on that, it's all I could think of.
    They just appear far too uniform and perfect looking in my humble opinion.
    scagwi
    Bummer.
    It would be pretty cool if they could access a data source from the tour each week and have "play vs the pros" and tie it into a career mode in the game.

    It's actually pretty easy to do. They share the handicap of the fictional golfer so I just went down the list with the golf rankings to rename them for my offline society. Was actually a pretty rewarding experience.
    HB_Alan
    Hi Alfie,
    Nothing's been decided yet. Definitely appreciate the comments. We still have more content to announce for TGC 2019 which will be all part of the launch game, I don't think anyone will be disappointed.
    Cheers.

    No offense to Alfie, but I'm totally okay paying for courses as DLC. It's what we did with Links, and no one had an issue. I don't care if there is a single licensed player at all, but love well made licensed courses, and I know those do not come cheap.
    Personally, relying on user made courses actually turns me off. I don't just want lots of content. I want something more realistic than random guys trying to recreate a course.
    JayhawkerStL
    turns me off. I don't just want lots of content. I want something more realistic than random guys trying to recreate a course.

    +1 on that!
    I want lots of RCR's and DLC is just fine with me.
    Golf  games  are missing out not having an ultimate team event in their games , EA do it well in Madden , road to the show do it superbly well in their baseball game , an ultimate team in a new Tiger woods game or just an EA Sprts PGA tour game  would be a hole in one ......... lol 
    HB_Alan
    Hi John, I don't have a definite date. We ported all our custom code over to Unity 2018 first, and rolled it out to the team. Next up was SpeedTree integration and they have them now working well in the backgrounds, next step is obviously the foreground work. Once ready, though, we'll put out some new screens or vids, probably as part of the Dev Talk vid series which we're doing every week (which OS kindly published, thanks guys!).

    Thanks for the reply Alan. I'm cautiously optimistic about SpeedTrees and how they're going to impact The Golf Club 2019. As I've stated before, I wasn't that impressed with the SpeedTree implementation in Jack Nicklaus Perfect Golf, overall, although some types of trees did come out better looking in that game than before. OTOH, JNPG was a bit hamstrung in that it was striving to be compatibile with DirectX 9, which TGC has thankfully left behind. I'm anxious to see what you guys can do with SpeedTrees in a DirectX 12 environment.
    Oh, can we safely assume that TGC 2019 will require Windows 10 on the PC?
    HB_Alan
    Hi Alfie,
    Nothing's been decided yet. Definitely appreciate the comments. We still have more content to announce for TGC 2019 which will be all part of the launch game, I don't think anyone will be disappointed.
    Cheers.

    Great to hear that Alan. Best of luck to HB Studios for TGC 2019.
    JayhawkerStL
    No offense to Alfie, but I'm totally okay paying for courses as DLC. It's what we did with Links, and no one had an issue. I don't care if there is a single licensed player at all, but love well made licensed courses, and I know those do not come cheap.
    Personally, relying on user made courses actually turns me off. I don't just want lots of content. I want something more realistic than random guys trying to recreate a course.

    I think I should've been clearer. IMO the tricky part is how much content should be in the game OOB and at what point it becomes ok for developer to charge for the DLC/content. What if a game had barely 4-6 courses OOB and you had to pay for the rest? I wouldn't be ok with it at all.
    When said I didn't want to pay for additional courses, my expectation was that the game would've around 20 or so mainstream courses such as Whistling straits, Pebble Beach, St Andrews, Banff, Augusta, Banff Springs, TPC Sawgrass, La Quinta, Harbour Town etc. along with a bunch of random or made up country clubs to add more variety and for the initial part of the career mode where you start off playing on the no-name courses.
    Alfie

    When said I didn't want to pay for additional courses, my expectation was that the game would've around 20 or so mainstream courses

    20!?
    I think that's awfully high of an expectation, especially for a smaller studio release.
    They don't have EA's budget to work with and I'd imagine a licensed course list of that size is a hefty sum.
    TW14 (standard, non-dlc extras) had around 20 if I recall, but again, that's with EA resources.
    I'd personally think something like 5-10 is more of a fair expectation.
    scagwi
    20!?
    I think that's awfully high of an expectation, especially for a smaller studio release. They don't have EA's budget to work with and I'd imagine a licensed course list of that size is a hefty sum.
    I'd personally think something like 5-ish is more of a fair expectation.

    I'm assuming it's a full priced $60 game and I would prefer they focus on the courses instead of player licenses. If you don't have to pay for player licenses they should be able to squeeze in more courses.
    But you may be right I may have unrealistic expectations as I've mostly played the PGA tour titles (Tiger Woods and RM) and they always had the courses in there so the realistic number in case of TGC 2019 may be slightly less.
    Hi guys, I asked Shaun (Producer here) to answer some of the questions you guys posed last night. His response:
    "We have implemented  new swing feedback that breaks down each swing into three sections. There is more information available to the user after each shot to help them improve on areas they maybe be trying to get to grip with. We have also made several physics changes opening up the ball flights for each shot for the most authentic experience we have ever delivered. We have made some FOV changes for each camera which seem to have helped many people who have been playing the game improve their ability on the green. With that said, we haven’t looked at changes for additional green textures or maps. "
    Re: the courses, they take months of effort to make each one when you're pain-stakingly going through topo data and recreating real-world objects. So yes, scagwi is on the right track in setting expectations. The good news is, though, once they're done, it's not like you have to re-do them from the beginning again for any future versions of the game on the same platforms. There's still work that will have to be done and further improvements but the effort will be less. So then you start building up a library of courses over time where you can re-use existing ones with some touch-ups and revisions in the future, and spend most of the future effort  building new ones.
    Alfie
    I think I should've been clearer. IMO the tricky part is how much content should be in the game OOB and at what point it becomes ok for developer to charge for the DLC/content. What if a game had barely 4-6 courses OOB and you had to pay for the rest? I wouldn't be ok with it at all.
    When said I didn't want to pay for additional courses, my expectation was that the game would've around 20 or so mainstream courses such as Whistling straits, Pebble Beach, St Andrews, Banff, Augusta, Banff Springs, TPC Sawgrass, La Quinta, Harbour Town etc. along with a bunch of random or made up country clubs to add more variety and for the initial part of the career mode where you start off playing on the no-name courses.

    That is quite a list for an Indie developer. Expected of a behemoth like EA with so many folks and resources to throw at lists like that.
    You might temper your expectations just a bit and be cautiously optimistic. Alan and the Team are NOT like EA and I think you will find they will make balanced decisions on DLC....IOW, a win, win deal...a win for users and a win for them.
    What's a bit startling to me concerning the OS article is that there are so few golf games that are relevant right now. I noticed they didn't mention Jack Nicklaus Perfect Golf, Winning Putt, or World Golf Tour in the article.
    I can see why Perfect Golf might be off the table now, given the simulator direction in which that franchise seems to be heading. I would have loved to see where they could have gone with PG 2, using NVIDIA's Turf Effects, DirectX 12, and hi-res, 3-D mo-capped golfers. I love their camera options and the playing companion camera view when playing multiplayer, but the last-gen polygonal golfer and his lack of tight synchronization with the stick movement made me set this game aside for TGC 2, which adressed the fluidly mo-capped golfer, responsively linked swing interface deficiencies which bugged me about JNPG.
    Winning Putt seems to get a lot of play internationally, but isn't popular domestically. It has great looking female avatars and that's about all I can say for it. The horizontal 3-click swing meter is from the Stone Age and doesn't do a thing for me!
    World Golf Tour seems to get the nod for offering the most consistent scoring challenge, but they whole avatar pasted in a digitized screen image environment is perspective destroying to me. I think I've played maybe 9 holes all together... it just looks and feels clumsy to me.
    So my question is, are these real course pga tour stops? Major courses ie us open etc. Or just random courses? That have no affiliation with the tour.
    Alfie
    I'm assuming it's a full priced $60 game and I would prefer they focus on the courses instead of player licenses. If you don't have to pay for player licenses they should be able to squeeze in more courses.
    But you may be right I may have unrealistic expectations as I've mostly played the PGA tour titles (Tiger Woods and RM) and they always had the courses in there so the realistic number in case of TGC 2019 may be slightly less.

    They said the game will be priced at the same point that TGC was when it was released .
    So under 60
    Real courses and PGA golfers are not make or break deals for me on a golf game. I've been an avid Tiger 08 player online and off. The main aim has always been to try to make it as sim of an experience as possible. I even came up with taking away the aim arrow and for clickers, modifying the meter so there's no guide dots or lines. I even came up with a way to try to play in a 1P type mode, ironic since I generally dislike 1P views in games. My biggest wish, and maybe it's a pipe dream, is to have a game with fair play tactics. The largest problem with true swing PC players is that they can either edge or they buy a programmable mouse to straighten out their swings.... I know.... there will always be cheaters out there. So if there will be a good cross platform game, maybe game controller swingers and 3 clickers is about the only way to help level the playing field.
    What about a 5 click system? 1- start swing , 2- break wrists, 3- power spot , 4- straighten wrist on downswing, 5- contact. No guide dots. No guidelines. Also, don't always foot position to "dial a distance" like in the TW games. Emulate what is done on a course. No one can run an aiming stick up to where you want to hit it to determine what you should do. Last for meter clickers, vary that speed difficulty as the ball lie worsens. Make it next to impossible for players to use clubs that aren't normally used in certain situations.
    OnlookerDelay
    I'm playing The Golf Club 2 regularly in Society tournaments mostly. I play three different Societies a week, including the HB Studios official Open to All Society. The tempo dependent swing interface gives the game a bit of depth that I currently find lacking in other analog swing interfaces. TGC 2 is very shallow in the online multiplayer department, but they're taking major steps to eliminate that in their forthcoming TGC 2019 game.
    I own Everybody's Golf and play it occasionally, but its non real time, 3-click swing interface doesn't engage me that much and just simply feels outdated. This game seems like a step back from Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational on the PS3, which had a real time, meterless (for the power click anyway) 3-click interface that required the player to watch the golfer's swing for gauging the power. I found it to be a lot more engaging than the throwback 3-click meter we have now. It looks pretty good though, but honestly, not as much better than the PS3 version as I'd have imagined.
    I had some hope for Perfect Golf 2 at one point on PC, XBox One, and PS4. Now I'm not holding out much hope for Perfect Golf 2 on anything other than the Trackman Simulator, now that Trackman has bought Perfect Parallel, PG's developer. It *may* come about on the PC someday, but not anytime soon. I'm confident we'll never see PG 2 on the consoles though. It's a shame because I think PG 2 held more promise for realism for non-simulator use, but it's not gonna happen.

    I was disappointed in the course selection. I actually found the first game they put out for the PS3 was better. The new version isn't bad but they need to get rid of the fire drill on the tee. Looks ridiculous watching characters running after the ball. After playing the TGC2 I am quite done with Hot Shots.
    Will TGC 3 have something akin to TW2004's mouse Tru-Swing, horizontal and/or vertical? This is my preferred swing model. Any method that does not move the ani in realtime is not for me. I love how in RM one can take the club back on the outside and then drop the club into the inside. What might be missing is a way to make that swing action shape shots more directly at least some. Near as I can tell, though I'm only using Normal difficulty still, a perfect draw comes from trying to get the diagonal swing dead perfect, which if you free-hand your swing, is pretty tricky to do so far for me. I'm not sure if ALSO adding a little bit of swinging inside to outside adds to the draw action, or hampers it, for example. I'm hoping it's a case of yes, the change in downswing path does impart more side spin up to a point after which swing error dominates the outcome.
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