Connect with us

Worst Trend in Sports Games in 2019: Single-Player Modes Getting Shafted

Operation Sports

Worst Trend in Sports Games in 2019: Single-Player Modes Getting Shafted

A favorite pastime for many people online is complaining. It’s easy to do, it’s easy to rally people to a cause, and so it’s no surprise that the “Worst Trend In Sports Games” category was among the most popular here on Operation Sports.

That being said, the choice for what was going to win this year was never in doubt. There is an ever-growing sense of unrest among both the staff and community at large that the sports games they love are changing in ways that concern them. This is not a new trend, and it’s not even really surprising considering how long OS has been around. While I have personally migrated to caring more about online franchise modes and card-collecting modes, there is a very vocal group of people on staff and in the community who are very worried about single-player modes getting shafted.

It’s a valid fear and it’s real.

But where does that general unrest come from? Well, the bugs at launch and then those that go unfixed all year are certainly part of it, but that’s not a new trend. So really the biggest outrage tends to come from just a general lack of care put into the offline modes these past few years. Career modes have received better support than franchise modes, but even there we’re seeing some cracks as the industry does not quite seem prepared enough to handle esports while balancing them against the general user experience.

Either way, it just never feels like improving franchise modes is at the forefront of the talking points for these major sports games. What that leads to is a feeling of stagnation, which eventually boils over into frustration.

In fact, it would be easy to argue NHL 20 was the only title that really put its franchise improvements front and center this season. (FIFA 20 did hype improvements, but those ended up mostly being underwhelming.) This is a problem. Yearly sports games are a tough sell for some people as is, and it becomes an even tougher sell if only certain things are improving every cycle. Gameplay will always be the main focus — as it should be — but what comes after is a rotating blend of presentation, card-collecting modes, career modes, and then sometimes franchise improvements.

This is not something that can last forever if the trend holds. Certain titles are selling well, and certainly new audiences are being found for these games, but with sports games it’s all about a long tail. The longer these games last for the fans, the better off these franchises are because you still need that group of people who will go to bat for your franchise. And if there is one thing I am more certain of than anything else, it’s that the franchise mode crowd will ride with you to the end if you support them.

They will play your game, they will talk about your game, and they will share their experiences with the game. This applies to both offline and online franchise modes, but the offline franchise mode crowd is simply much bigger because the time and planning for online franchise modes is much more extensive. The career mode crowd will do the same, but it’s a slightly different sort of fervor. Career mode is inherently a bit more selfish and self-serving, and so the stories themselves are very different.

Both career modes and franchise modes are important for the future of sports games, and both need to be better supported offline (and online) moving forward.

Community Vote

1.    Single-Player Modes Getting Shafted
2.    Shoddy Launches
3.    AI Teammates Getting Dumber To Push You To User-Control More

Again, this vote was not close. In fact, I think the “worst trend in sports game” vote was the biggest landslide victory for all of the year-end awards. This is also the least surprising result but doesn’t mean it does not warrant at least one more thought from my ol’ brain.

Xbox Series X

The next-generation consoles are yet another chance to reset things for this industry. When they launch later this year, they’ll be the most powerful and most connected consoles we’ve had yet. The trends suggest we will move further away from single-player modes and that’s concerning for many people. However, it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. If the studios don’t want to invest heavily into offline franchise modes or career modes, that’s their choice. But what they can do is at least more heavily invest in the PC side of things. If there comes a time where we just have to simply start relying on communities to carry these games, it’s not perfect, but it’s been done before.

If these consoles are just going more and more towards being PCs anyway, then let’s actually get more of the benefits out of this relationship. Let’s make modding sports games a much bigger trend moving forward if it’s the only way to push these titles the way they should be for offline-only users. Sports fans have shown off some of the incredible mods they can make in these games, so lean into that developers and make it easier for us to craft the experiences we want.

8 Comments

Leave a Reply

Discussion
  1. I'm not surprised this won the vote - and yeah, I get it. Do multiplayer modes continue getting a lot of attention? Sure. But honestly, it's not the modes that solo players are getting the shaft on (Madden/NHL/FIFA made major strides in franchise and MLB in its RTTS offering). What worries me is the continued dumbing-down of gameplay.
    For sports games, if the gameplay becomes overly "Stick Skill" based, ratings no longer matter in-game. If ratings don't matter in-game, people's precious franchise modes become utterly useless, no matter how well done the menu side of things is. Why bother building a team up if the ratings don't play-out well in-game?
    I can see it now...hey franchise gamers, we gave you a new way to negotiate contracts and added more development options...but, we've also removed a lot of in-game AI functionality (i.e. ratings mattering) to make it more user-based. So...it really doesn't matter that you signed that 85 OVR guy using the new contract negotiation system we put into the game....because his performance will be dictated solely by how well you 'user' him.
    Don't think this can happen? Guess what, FIFA did this exact thing this year. Comp guys complained about "skill gap" (i.e. the game was too hard for them because of strong AI) so EA essentially removed defensive AI on user teams so you can "user" 1 of 11 defenders (while the others stand there).
    So.....ya'll can whine about your little menu screens all you want - we're being exploited in ways far worse than having our modes ignored. Competitive players are removing the "sports" from "sports games" from right under our noses.
    Between the myriad gacha style card collecting money grabs and the heavy focus on tuning games towards the head to head "tournament" experience, it's obvious that the marketing people have no desire to cater to the sim crowd and whatever we do have now should not be taken for granted going into the next generation.  This seemed like a no brainer of a vote for me.
    This has been my biggest gripe for the past several yrs now.  I only play video games, for the Franchise mode in sports games, if it wasnt for this in sports games, I wouldnt even need a video game console.  I have no desire to play online with others, never have, never will,lol. 
    Madden has been a let down for many yrs now, with their Franchise mode, and up until this yr, I hadnt even bought the game in several yrs do to this.   MLBTS, the 1 game I didnt think, would sell out, to the casual online fans, has did just that, and due to that and their lack of progress in improving the Franchise mode, has caused me to not buy it the past 2 yrs, and likely wont buy it again this yr, as I will just stick with OOTP instead.   
    NBA2k is a little different to the other 2 major sports games, reason being NBA2k has a very deep Franchise mode, problem is they refuse to fix all the things that are broken in the mode, because the issues this yr is the same issues for the past several yrs.
    All 3 of these sports games, sim engines are junk, and if your a stat junkie, and like realism within your Franchise mode, your going to lose interest real quick, unless you just look past the crap stats, and majority of us hardcore fans, struggle with that, LOL
    I think my gaming days may be coming to a end, unless these next generation of games, when the new consoles come out, see a big upgrade in Franchise modes.  Supposedly the PS4 when they came out the MLBTS team, said now we have the power to really do what we have always envisioned. I took that, as meaning we were going to get a great Franchise, not to the depth stat wise as OOTP, but I was expecting a more realistic spring training, and stuff like that, yet that never happened.   The only thing MLBTS devs have done since the PS4 came out was, improve on looks and online, and they did improve on the gameplay of it, but for me gameplay is only 1 part of whats most important to me in a game, its like 1b, with Franchise depthness being 1a. 
    Unfortunately online play is here to stay, as long as we have internet, there will be online play, and the online players have become the majority, which sadly means,  the majority of sports gamers are casual fans, so this spell bad news for the hardcore sports fan who plays sports video games.  I dont see these companies all of a sudden say, hey lets focus on putting out a true simulation of the real life sports, and make Franchise, feel like your truly controlling a Franchise, and your moves will decide whether you succeed or fail.  I think there is some devs, who if they had the choice they would focus on the Franchise side, but these companies are a business and as a business your going to focus on what makes the most money, and unfortunately its the casuals gamers, who play online modes, that make them money. So I get it, as a life long farmer, Im going to plant and raise what makes me the most money. But these sports companies, could make a whole lot more, if they could make a true sim of that sport, for us Franchise fans, along with doing what they do to interest the casual fans online. I know Im not running out come next yr to buy a new console, Im going to wait and see, if the sports games I play have fixed legacy issues, and improved greatly in their Franchise mode, or my gaming days will be done, when my PS4 takes a crap.
    JoshC1977
    For sports games, if the gameplay becomes overly "Stick Skill" based, ratings no longer matter in-game. If ratings don't matter in-game, people's precious franchise modes become utterly useless, no matter how well done the menu side of things is. Why bother building a team up if the ratings don't play-out well in-game?

    I disagree with this.
    I like the fact that stick skills do matter. if it was all about ratings, there would be no need to play the in season games. To me, games that are all based on ratings is basically a text sim with the illusion of user input for game-play.
    off-line, I think 2k's approach to stick skills vs ratings has done the best with implementation.
    on-line probably a different story. but on line caters to a different audience.
    as far as off line modes such as franchise modes being neglected. I disagree. all the tools to offer a deep franchise mode are there in most the sports games.
    The thing that makes franchise modes stale, when dealing with professional sports is usually player progression, and incoming rookies and how their careers pan out.
    I do feel that stats do need some work in franchise modes; But at certain point, a franchise mode is designed to eventually take a life of its own.
    Last point, I dont think folks will truly be satisfied with offline franchise modes until the developers start making college sports again.
    tril
    I disagree with this.
    I like the fact that stick skills do matter. if it was all about ratings, there would be no need to play the in season games. To me, games that are all based on ratings is basically a text sim with the illusion of user input for game-play.

    This to me would be the trickiest part as a developer. Ask 10 different offline gamers on how skills vs. ratings should be weighted, you probably get 10 different answers. While I am reluctant to suggest yet another slider to sports games, a properly implemented slider to that would expand/contract ratings effectiveness might help make more people happy.
    Cardot
    This to me would be the trickiest part as a developer. Ask 10 different offline gamers on how skills vs. ratings should be weighted, you probably get 10 different answers. While I am reluctant to suggest yet another slider to sports games, a properly implemented slider to that would expand/contract ratings effectiveness might help make more people happy.

    I like this idea Cardot. I would suggest making the available sliders absolute instead of adding another slider. A slider value of 0 would make that attribute completely user-controlled, while a value of 100 would make it completely about the attribute; of course, 50 would be a little bit of both.
    Here is hoping that influencing people at the development teams will see this discussion.
    Franchise Modes are the only thing I play on Sports games, and Sports games are mainly the only thing I play.
    It is frustrating that year after year some of these games, especially Madden do little to improve their Franchise mode (so I pass). Every sports game should by like NBA 2Ks MyLeague. Where you can customize teams, divisions, prospects, and more. As well as see tons of stats easily by clicking on your players.

More in Operation Sports

Poll

Recent Forum Threads


Top Esports News

Related

To Top