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When It Comes to Criticizing Sports Games, We Can Do Better as a Community

Sports Gaming

When It Comes to Criticizing Sports Games, We Can Do Better as a Community

There aren’t many fans of sports games more hardcore than those who visit Operation Sports.

To us, the desire for more realistic sports-simulation experiences to be created by developers is extremely high. We want nothing more than great, balanced and realistic simulations of sports.

To that end, we believe the absolute best way to achieve those experiences as a community is to take an active and positive role in sports game development, not a confrontational one.

We do not, in any way, condone trashing developers, cursing at them or assuming the worst about what they are trying to accomplish in creating great games. Over the years, partnering with developers and producers to collaborate on the issues facing sports games and giving realistic suggestions as to how to correct issues has led to real progress.

Offering constructive and creative feedback is, and will always be, the absolute best way to see better games released year after year. In our short video series talking to the guys at 2K Sports, the consensus opinion was that people working on games take notice and listen most to those who offer consistent, high-quality feedback on games. Last weekend at EA Play the developers of Madden, NBA Live, FIFA, Need For Speed, Battlefield, Battlefront and the entire EA mobile lineup brought in 300-plus of their Game Changers to provide first-hand feedback on their entire game lineup.

It’s no coincidence that the community members who end up working on games are typically those who consistently worked to improve the experience for other gamers versus those who spent their time tearing down the merits of a developer’s passion or talent.

The culture we live in today certainly seems to lead to results via negativity in some respects, but we have yet to see that when it comes to sports games. Some of the best features in sports games today were the result of the community offering constructive feedback on sports games.

Today we’re calling out the community in a bold way, to challenge everyone to step your game up and offer solutions and not complaints. We want better sports games, and so do you.

Past results speak for themselves, and we think everyone should follow a simple template when addressing a concern about a game they are playing:

First, document your problem with video.

It’s easier than ever to capture video with the PS4 Share and/or the Xbox One Game DVR features. Include context around the situation and (if possible) show the steps to re-create the issue. While normal text-based feedback is still valued, video is irrefutable proof of an issue.

Second, bring the problem to a developer with what you think a solution might be.

Complaining without a solution is simply complaining. If you see a problem, documenting it, explaining why it’s a problem, and what you think an ideal solution would be will end up with better results. It’s also important to do this respectfully and not assume anything.

Third, after presenting the problem, respectfully following up a time or two is fine. Hounding a developer is harassment and not constructive.

Following up a time or two with a developer is fine. If you daily ask a dev, sooner or later you are going to get frustrated and end up with a negative relationship. Your capital will be ruined, and your ability to affect change diminished. Devs do see everything, good or bad. If you need follow up, contact one of the community leaders of the game you are interested in. You will find most of them on Twitter or even here on the OS forums.

We believe that sports games can be made better. There are certainly issues where the community could easily partner with developers to identify problems and work out solutions.

We are committed to helping provide a place for this to take place. Know that developers read Operation Sports daily, and we want to help be a place where real solutions to sports game issues are created.

What we are asking of you is to join us. Please provide problems you see with documentation, please provide solutions you think might work. Always be respectful.

As a community we can all work together to provide a better experience within sports games. Leave the unnecessary negativity at the door, and let’s work with developers rather than against them in the future.

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  1. First up...what a great point.
    I have 2 perspectives here.
    1. Do we stay realistic & complain within the realms of what is practible?
    2. Do we put forward a wish list of what we desire?
    At the end of the day we all have an idea of what constitutes the ideal sports game. 
    If it was down to me I would stick my fingers up to anything that refers to Online Gaming. I'm simply not interested. And yet straight away I invite conflict. So right from the onset the realisation that there is no absolute answer becomes apparent.
    Therefore all I can offer to developers is that they make their games in a way that we can edit & amend to a point that they serve the individuals purpose.  There are a number of games that fail to engulf the Online community yet others, such as Golf Club, tend to alienate the Offline player.
    Make games in a way that everyone can find a way to enjoy them. That for me is surely the answer.  As a developer don't sway to trends, don't  look for a path of easy income (EA take note), just find a way we, as an individual can enjoy the product. 
    Amen.
    OS should be a safe space for devs, a win-win situation. As self selected fans of the sports game genre, we get our voices heard in products we commit to. They get insightful and poignant feedback from a literal subject matter expert community.
    Blasting someone on high profile, social media is a surefire way to get a project defunded and/or s/he canned. Funding streams over-value these sentiments.
    I'm not saying some games aren't flaming piles of poo. Still, these are few and far between, likewise devs who aren't willing to correct shortcomings. (As a decade long game reviewer for 5 sites, I speak from experience).
    Great article.
    I agree both with the general premise, and that the suggestions posted are good ones. Being an unruly, abusive troll is never the right answer.
    However, what's the next step when we, as gamers/consumers are polite and professional, but are completely ignored? When the companies take out features that have long been enjoyed by gamers, for example. Or marganalize/minimize popular aspects of the game, in order to focus more on new additions instead?
    Agreed on the feel/idea of this. But I do question #2. I feel like this is the "easy out" for not providing constructive criticism. I'm not a game designer, coder, or software engineer. Thus, I can't speak, in detail, to why "too many curveballs are becoming passed balls".
    To be honest, I feel like the video game industry is one of the very few industries that can get away with this. If I buy a car from my local Ford dealership and, 2,000 miles down the road it stops shifting into 3rd, am I expected to explain to the dealer/Ford why my car won't shift into 3rd and how to fix it? My answer, if I was asked, would very simply be "the proposed (and only) solution is that my brand new $24K car shifts correctly".
    Totally agree! When does OS plan to start providing in-depth critiques of sports games?
    Oh you mean you're just telling us fans to create the content for you while you keep your hands clean with vanilla reviews? Got it.
    Alot times the so-called complaining is realistic and achievable but it get shot down because it's not what producers, devs or a couple of fans are as something they personally don't want. If it's constructive criticism it still gets shot down.
    Definitely agree and it should honestly go without saying.
    I will say though when you have a Dev state that someone saying "I hope your kids get cancer" is coming from some higher level of passion for the game and that the worst thing they could do is ignore that kind of person doesn't exactly do a good job dissuading someone from acting like that.
    I mean, it really should be common sense to not say that garbage but this is the internet we're talking about here.
    dasfette
    Agreed on the feel/idea of this. But I*do question #2. I feel like this is the "easy out" for not providing constructive criticism. I'm not a game designer, coder, or software engineer. Thus, I can't speak, in detail, to why "too many curveballs are becoming passed balls".
    To be honest, I feel like the video game industry*is one of the very few industries that can get away with this. If I buy a car from my local Ford dealership and, 2,000 miles down the road it stops shifting into 3rd, am I expected to explain to the dealer/Ford why my car won't shift into 3rd and how to fix it? My answer, if I was asked, would very simply be "the proposed (and only)*solution is that*my brand new $24K*car shifts correctly".

    There are always solutions to things we play...we don't know about cars but we DO know how a game ought to be played when we're complaining/upset about it. When we identify a problem, we should also be offering a solution with some support as to why it's a good solution. In your example of passed balls, we can provide the video support...maybe some sample data...and real life data to show how the current state of the game does not mirror real life. That is irrefutable evidence something needs to be fixed, as Steve mentioned. In some way or another though, we need to provide more situational data wherein the devs can replicate an issue (if a bug) or if something doesn't work with the flow of a game (i.e. more franchise content), ideas of what could be implemented.
    There should be a template that gets used emphasizing facts and not emotions. Also should be noted the other side of the spectrum where you have those that attack when you bring to light an issue. Saying your wrong and it doesn't exist
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports
    I agree so much on the video part. There will be threads on here where people complain about an issue and I just don't believe them due to no video evidence.
    I think its apart of the world we live in tho. Everyone is always so quick to judge and hate on something. Well said tho, if people channel there problems with games through more constructive methods it would be beneficial for everyone involved. 
    Years ago (I'm 52), developers had 1 shot, 1 SHOT, to get it right. They lived and died by their releases and for the most part, games were very solid releases. Now it seems they take the easy road by releasing a game and then patching and tweaking it as they go. I am completely avoiding the server issues here because I am comparing game quality from years past. If they spent a little more time perfecting a release I think you would less complaints from the gaming community as a whole. 
    I can dig it... but then the internet would be inundated with videos showing the issues with the different teams at the helm. I find that most issues that we complain about are usually verified by multiple people. When are we going to hold those in the quality control department accountable for not catching these mistakes in the first place? Or, are they catching these mistakes and not willing to go to the drawing board and change these issues. I can agree that patches are saving grace to games, but as a sports game fanatic, I cram to understand how this market has become so stagnant.  Madden is putting weight behind a new engine that allows them to do things that other games have done since 2003 and beyond. I know that coding and programming is a difficult area of expertise but why do we, as the consumer have to continuously put up with substandard results? I would rather not hear much about game releases this far in advance only to get a game riddled with bugs. I am not a game developer but I can certainly spend my hard earned money and expect to not get half-assed products. I am a sanitation worker and I can tell you that I receive complaints and criticism from people who have never spent 1 second on a route and couldn't last a block in 95 degree heat, running and dumping 70 pound cans. The reality is, as long as people pay their taxes and put out cans of spoiled meat on a Saturday evening for a Tuesday morning pickup, they are going to expect us to pick it up and endure maggots and dead flesh odor, Therefore, if I am taking 65 bucks of my doe to by a sports game to fulfill my inner fantasies of creating my own teams and players and leading them to the promise land, I expect perfection or it least supreme satisfaction. As far as trollers, get a life!! Hard critics and mean individuals, you guys have to eat that!! It comes with the turf..  
    I'll never condone personal attacks, or ignorance.  BUT, it's not my job to QC your product.  I gave you money for a game that you told me was going to be able to do "x,y,z", and when it doesn't do that I feel ripped off and taken advantage of.   People work hard for their money, and all they want is a working product.  I agree that there is definitely such thing as constructive criticism, but anymore it just feels like you pay for a game to be a beta tester, and if you're lucky most of the major bugs get worked out in time for the next release.  Then, it's the same thing over again.  I'm so down for things like roster updates over 1-2 years, and in the meantime you can work on polishing the gameplay, new modes, etc., so that at least maybe every 2 years you are coming out with a game that is ready to be awesome on day one.
    ?There are always solutions to things we play...we don't know about cars but we DO know how a game ought to be played when we're complaining/upset about it. When we identify a problem, we should also be offering a solution with some support as to why it's a good solution. In your example of passed balls, we can provide the video support...maybe some sample data...and real life data to show how the current state of the game does not mirror real life. That is irrefutable evidence something needs to be fixed, as Steve mentioned. In some way or another though, we need to provide more situational data wherein the devs can replicate an issue (if a bug) or if something doesn't work with the flow of a game (i.e. more franchise content), ideas of what could be implemented.

    Though I hear you, I don't think it's unfair to wonder where my QC paycheck and/or free copy of the game is. Not my job to explain to a dev how to fix their product. There's a fine line - I agree. But this whole "provide undisputable evidence with 16 different, concrete examples" is a little crazy.
    Clearly sites like this one have a different perspective when it comes to certain devs. Unfortunately, these sites can't be more objective given that the relationship with certain devs are there meal ticket for access. The community doesn't get free games/swag from devs nor do they get exclusive access to events etc. However, they do pay REAL money for a product and expect it to deliver as advertised. They also have the reasonable expectation that certain areas of said product will improve over time to be inline with what the industry at large is able to achieve.  When these expectations are not met after paying money for a product or service, the customer has the right to either critique the process or question the competence of the producer of this product. If those critiques aren't responded to, the consumer will chose a competing product. However, as we know in certain sports titles, this consumer option has been taken away. Therefore the critiques are compounded and the frustration grows as every possible type of feedback has already been given.
    Obviously it is not prudent or productive to make personal attacks on a content maker when your expectations are not met. However, it is definitely fair game for the consumer to question the motivations of a producer of content, their competency and the overall value of their product if said producer is asking for REAL money for the customer to have access.  If someone were to tell you otherwise, you'd have to question whether this person is somehow an agent of said producer or someone speaking on their behalf. IE PR or some other entity. 
    I want to start by saying I totally understand both sides of the argument. On one hand yes we’ve been waiting for features “X, Y, Z, for years since past generations.” On the other, “well moving to a different console is a different language, a new engine, pressure from the suits, not enough resources, etc…”
    No matter what industry you’re apart of you’ll face the same criticism at some point, I face it weekly at my job. The only way for any of us to truly understand their side would be a peek behind the curtains. Let us see what kind of codes you’re looking at and/or recordings of these legendary board meetings. Of course by no means should they have to or fill obligated to. But that would definitely subside some of the critics if not most. Even still it should never be taken to a personal level, that’s like anyone walking into your job and they’re like “Hey you’re not doing it right. Where’s your love where’s your passion? I’ve been waiting for you to prosper and develop. What’s going on?” Even though your boss is telling you, your doing a good job. You’ll probably tell that person “Shh, get out of here.” That’s how they are feeling, that’s what we’re doing as a whole to the EA developers and we have to understand that.
    Anyways a solution, I don’t think will ever see the light of day, would be to actually let us see some of that code, let us see Madden on a technical scale. I personally would love to see if I can “crack their code” so to speak, maybe find a work around to whatever the problem it is they’re facing. If not find a solution maybe all they need are some fresh eyes to come look at their codes and guide them in that direction, even for anyone without a technical background. You could just pose a watered down question: We’re trying to go from point A to point B, but here are our obstacles X, Y, Z. If it is an issue along those lines.
    If it really is resources, I’m assuming money, that would be the perfect solution. What better way to get a great product when in our free time we could help the EA developers with whatever they are doing or struggling with. We are all passionate about the game, whether we love it or hate it. Yeah I know legalities and liabilities of letting random joes see your codes but all we have to do is sign a contract.
    I’m not trying to get a job at EA, or straight defend them either, just offering a solution to the problem I see. We all could get a better understanding from their point of view. Maybe we’ll see that frostbite code and be like “I’ll pass, I understand now” or possibly as a community put out the best Madden to date and break every record for video game sells, who knows. But at the end of the day, we all want the best football game and if EA can’t keep up with their “resources” then maybe paying that exclusive licensing should be looked at again by the decision makers.
    Don’t the developers overwhelmingly have at least a little say in what they’re doing if they are as passionate as they say they are? Couldn’t all of EA sports or Madden developer team speak up as a whole and say something to anyone? Again I don’t know maybe they did already, who knows how heavy handed EA’s executives are or how their contracts are written up. It sounds like the higher ups are extremely heavy handed. I could be totally wrong but I don’t work there, and again I don't know.
    I think here is where the problem lays. What ever EA tells the developers to do they kind of have to do it, that's their job. And as frustrated consumers go, we come here and let out are feelings here not really knowing who is really to blame over there at EA. Since the developers are the faces that we see from EA we take it out on them without even asking the real questions.
    Developers, if you let us know whats really going on, we'll support you guys and extend a helping hand if needed, otherwise keep doing the best you can.
    Madden Developer Clint Oldenburg referenced this post in his interview with Ryan Moody when asked what is the best way users can critique Madden, saying that he agrees with this and wishes users would follow the steps (record a video, say how it should be improved, give details etc) when sending him feedback. I thought that was pretty cool! It starts at 17:20
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