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What's the Grind Really Worth in Sports Games?

Sports Gaming

What's the Grind Really Worth in Sports Games?

Now that the majority of the major sports titles have been released this year, we can finally see 2017 as yet another year where micro-transactions within sports games are enticing players more than ever, and are gradually starting to infringe upon the enjoyment of the games themselves. It’s not necessarily that the idea of people plunking down extra cash in order to improve their team or player at a faster clip than those who may be on tight budgets is inherently awful or anything. Rather, it’s the idea of micro-transactions becoming more prevalent in conjunction with the fact that all of these sports games are also making the grind so bloody demanding for anyone who doesn’t want to (or simply can’t) pay extra.

With that in mind, let’s take an in-depth look at which games are more accommodating to those who refuse to upgrade using these micro-transactions, and which games make it all but imperative to spend that extra money.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus exclusively on sports games’ ever-popular team-building card-collecting modes. Additionally, in the interests of this comparative study, we’ll be approaching this as if someone fairly new to the game was picking it up and trying to accumulate in-game currency by playing only head-to-head games against other people online. While all sports games offer plenty of solo challenges and the ability to flip cards on the marketplace to help accumulate in-game currency, the rewards fluctuate far too much from challenge to challenge and title to title to allow for any sort of fair comparison. What we’re ultimately aiming to find here is how much actual real-life money someone is theoretically earning per hour by grinding this way as they attempt to accumulate an equal amount of in-game currency as you can purchase for $100.

Madden 18

Types of Currency: Coins, which you earn through completing challenges and playing games, and points, which you purchase using a credit card.

What $99.99 USD gets you: 12,000 pts (or roughly equivalent to 720,000 coins based on store prices)

Avg coins earned per Seasons game: approx. 900. The number of coins awarded will vary quite a bit based on performance, though the algorithm explaining how that is calculated remains a bit of a mystery. It will generally range anywhere from 200 coins for a particularly bad performance to 1,800 for an especially good one.

# of games to get to 720,000 coins: 800

Avg length of game: 30 mins

# of hours needed to grind 720,000 coins: 400

Grind Time Value (or GTV): $0.25/hour

NHL 18

Types of Currency: Coins, which you earn through completing challenges and playing games, and points, which you purchase using a credit card.

What $99.99 USD gets you: 12,000 pts (or roughly equivalent to 720,000 coins based on store prices)

Avg coins earned per Competitive Seasons game: 1,000. The great thing about NHL 18 is that you earn a base of 600 coins just for finishing a game. On top of that, there’s a skill bonus and then something called a “fan appreciation” that you would think demands some sort of an explanation, but sadly, none is offered.

# of games to get to 720,000 coins: 720

Avg time per game: 20 mins

Required grind time: 240 hours

GTV: $0.42/hour

Summary: Both EA products, it’s not really all that surprising to see Madden 18 and NHL 18 share some of the same resources in their competitive seasons modes, namely how many coins you receive for dropping $100. Where they diverge a little is that NHL 18 is definitely more consistently willing to reward you for your performance after games, which is all the more surprising because of the other inherent advantage NHL 18 already offers. With games that are roughly about 10 minutes shorter in NHL 18, you can rack up coins significantly quicker than you can in Madden 18, and over twice as fast as you can earn stubs in MLB The Show 17 and MT in NBA 2K18.

NBA 2K18

Types of Currency: MT that you earn through completing challenges and playing games. And VC (or virtual currency), which you purchase using a credit card.

What $99.99 USD gets you: 450,000 VC (or 652,174 MT based on store prices)

Avg MT earned per Super Max game: 650. This will fluctuate based on performance factors like scoring, defense and even margin of victory (assuming it was actually a victory, of course).

# of games to get to 652,174MT: 1,003

Avg length of game: 30 mins

Required Grind Time: 502 hours

GTV: $0.20/hour

Summary: While everyone has already expressed suitable outrage at how it’s all but a necessity to purchase VC in order to avoid an interminable grind in NBA 2K18’s My Career mode, things look a little more normal back in the MyTeam mode, or at least relatively in line with the other major sports games.

MLB The Show 17

Types of currency: Stubs. MLB The Show seems to be the last of the major titles to feature only one type of currency within its game: stubs (not counting tickets, which don’t really count since they can only be redeemed at the ticket counter).

What $99.99 USD gets you: 150,000 stubs

Avg stubs earned per Ranked Seasons game: 200. As far as rewards go, the number of stubs earned probably fluctuates more than any of the other sports games, likely depending on things like performance, rank and any number of factors that aren’t disclosed in any manner at all following a game. Also, the stubs rewards at this point tend to be a bit better than when the game was initially released. So, let’s remember again to assume this is a relatively average player (maybe around All-Star tier) who wins some and loses some and estimate it at 200 a game.

# of games it would take to get to 150,000 stubs: approx. 750

Avg amount of time spent per game: 45mins

Hours to grind 150,000 stubs: 562.5

GTV: $.18/hour

Summary: It’s actually a little surprising that MLB The Show 17 offers the least amount of efficiency in amassing stubs. It doesn’t help that game times can end up being rather long, especially if they happen to drag on into extra innings for what can seem like an eternity, making it more difficult than ever to get your money’s worth out of playing an online game. That being said, this game may be the easiest to flip your stubs into greater profits, so with a little work in the Marketplace it sort of makes up for the difference.

In Summation: Its Not Much

While it’s probably not all that shocking to find that there isn’t really a huge difference between how long it takes to grind $100 worth of in-game currency in all of these sports games (aside from hockey, where it may actually take you as little as half the time of other titles thanks to its quick games), it is still quite startling to see how little compensation people are regularly receiving for their efforts. Time is probably the most valuable commodity in the world, and yet anyone interested in Ultimate Team modes not willing to pay the $100 price tag to get a leg up is instead choosing to devote anywhere from 250-560-plus hours to receive the same reward. And this despite that fact that many people with steady employment could likely make that $100 in a day. So why not just pay? Because the grind is fun, some will say, or maybe to send a message to these companies that they will not pay extra. But what if companies start rewarding you even less for the grind? Will people still not pay then? The big looming question for the future of sports gaming is how far these companies will attempt to go in removing the value from the grind in order to get those same grinders to pony up the cash instead.

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  1. In 2k I dont mind the grind for physical attributes its everything else. 3000 VC per tattoo, 900 to remove said tattoo, 5000 for shoes, 1000 for a headband. Gatorade wants me to do some stuff around the neighborhood in their tshirt yet I still have to go buy it. Its 8000 VC for a tattoo yet I make 800 a game. 2k has found the line and jumped it.
    Lol at the show! That doesn't account for the cards that you get after each game though.
    i did grind the hell out of the show this year and I pretty much hate myself for that. Never again, any game, ever!
    If you find yourself playing for in-game currency, you're already on the losing end. It's about playing to have fun.  People are really GRINDING for several hours to buy virtual clothes and tattoos for a virtual character. It doesn't even affect gameplay. I only bought one shirt for my 2k character because it was an objective. Still rocking the grey sweats and  white 2k shoes. Why would I want to spend that obscene amount (of time) on virtual skins? 
    I don't mind it taking a while to get my attributes up. The game is based on realism.  You're not supposed to be able to max your character out within a couple of weeks. I understand the frustration with these things.  But sometimes I think gamers need to adjust how they're approaching these games. 
    What company in a capitalist country will turn down free money from people that are more than willing to give it to them because they can't control their own impulses?  These practices will never go away until consumers stop spending their money on it. 
    I burned out on UT....it's all I played last year in Madden when you could get card while playing draft champs. They took that away this year by making you pay tickets so that's out for me....don't like solo challenges. And it's no fun when your team is a 79 overall and the match making puts you up against a 89+ overall team making ranked seasons too much of a gamble. And when you consider it takes 250 hours to grind to get what pay to win people already have that pushes me even further...no way I'm doing that just to compete. So I'm back to old fashioned online ranked games with stock teams.
    da_centa_fielda
    If you find yourself playing for in-game currency, you're already on the losing end. It's about playing to have fun.* People are really GRINDING for several hours to buy virtual clothes and tattoos for a virtual character. It doesn't even affect gameplay. I only bought one shirt for my 2k character because it was an objective. Still rocking the grey sweats and* white 2k shoes. Why would I want to spend that obscene amount (of time) on virtual skins?*
    I don't mind it taking a while to get my attributes up. The game is based on realism.* You're not supposed to be able to max your character out within a couple of weeks. I understand the frustration with these things.* But sometimes I think gamers need to adjust how they're approaching these games.*
    What company in a capitalist country will turn down free money from people that are more than willing to give it to them because they can't control their own impulses?* These practices will never go away until consumers stop spending their money on it.*

    I pretty much agree with u and the only reason I caved and bought VC coin was to boost my attributes a bit faster and I'm enjoying My Career like crazy (first real time digging into this mode). I'm a grown man with a career, family and responsibilities so I don't have the extreme amount of time to play vid games all day, most days. Time to time I'll get those days where I can game almost all day, if I choose.
    I still just have the default clothing to wear round the hood aside from the jersey Porzingis gave me and only reason I paid for a hair cut is because of the 2nd time an objective took me to the barbershop.
    Otherwise, I do enjoy some of the grind because it is somewhat realistic and fun to see what the story brings.

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