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XFL and 2K a Match Made in Heaven

Sports Gaming

XFL and 2K a Match Made in Heaven

Ask anyone in the gaming community what the best football video game of all-time is, and the answer you would hear the most would still probably be NFL 2K5. For many, this was the peak of football video games. And every game that has followed — for better or worse — has been compared. Truth is, EA and Madden have since monopolized the market. And while All-Pro Football 2K8 was a solid game, without NFL rosters and licensing it just never felt the same.

But now, after almost 15 years since NFL 2K5 released in July 2004, fans are starting to once again get the itch. And with new leagues appearing each and every week, (RIP AAF) the door may finally be open for a Bobby Boucher-like return. So how long before Vince McMahon and his newly relaunched XFL jump off the top rope and make a splash into the football video game industry?

Here is why I think the XFL and 2K are a match made in heaven.

NFL 2K

The NFL 2K franchise made its debut on September 9, 1999 on the Sega Dreamcast. And for a couple years, it remained exclusive to Sega’s “next-generation” system. However, in 2001 it made its long-awaited debut on the PlayStation and Xbox consoles. Then in 2004, ESPN NFL 2K5 released for $19.99 and quickly soared up the sales chart. The game brought several different features and game modes that were new to football games, and it also released a week before Madden, which made it a must-buy for all sports gamers.

NFL 2K5’s gameplay was on an entirely different level. And not only did the players move with more realism and fluidity, it just seemed different than the game Madden had been putting out, which was saying something as the Madden franchise was also near the peak of its powers at this time. Linebackers felt different than defensive backs, and the interaction in the trenches were second to none.

Before each game, Chris Berman would break down the upcoming matchup. He would discuss last week’s wins/losses, recent trends and other useful statistics. It was almost always informative and fresh. In addition to the pregame show, 2K had the greatest halftime show of all time. It was one of the first to implement in-game highlights, which were compiled in an attractive highlight reel. And who can forget about the cutscenes? After an interception, the quarterback could be seen heading to the sidelines as he slammed his helmet down on the bench in disgust. Others would show the QB on the phone with his offensive coordinator discussing what went wrong. These are just a few examples of how advanced 2K5 was at the time.

Lastly, who can forget the first-person camera that allowed users to read a defense like a pro. And yes, more times than not it made you nauseous, but it was one of the better, more unique game modes in any sports game. Franchise mode was well done and the online play left you wanting more. All of this is why NFL 2K5 will forever be the greatest football video game of all-time for many.

XFL

It has been almost 20 years since Mr. McMahon had the idea to invest millions of dollars into a start-up football organization. And when it first released in 2000, it immediately became a cult-classic. The over the top rules, creative player names, and a sport that was seemingly revolutionized would seemingly be fail proof, right? Wrong.

The XFL lasted just one season ,and despite being very different than the NFL game, it was still very familiar in both good and bad ways. The ratings were huge at the beginning of the season but quickly died down by the end of the season. However, it did produce Tommy Maddox, the former Steelers quarterback that played in the 90s. Furthermore, it produced one of the most iconic football stars of all-time in He Hate Me. Maddox helped lead Los Angeles to a championship in the league’s inaugural season. But it wasn’t before long that the XFL would fold, forcing McMahon and NBC to lose a lot of money.

Flash forward almost 20 years later…

Now, after two decades, the XFL is preparing to make its triumphant return. And although things didn’t work out the first time, McMahon and his group of investors don’t foresee the same mistakes happening again. Furthermore, they do not expect to suffer the same downfalls as the recently bankrupt AAF. But what will inevitably set the XFL apart from the other professional leagues that have started and failed is the unique rules, broadcast and other intricate details.

In the first and only season, the XFL introduced a plethora of unique rules. Instead of the traditional coin toss, two players would race to a football 20 yards away. This would determine which team gets to choose possession. I think this unique rule could translate well to a video game, and it could best be utilized as a mini-game of its own. There were also no extra point in the XFL’s first installment and there won’t be this go around either. In overtime, teams will have a “shootout” consisting of one-point conversions. This would make things more interesting and help determine the outcome of any game.

You were also forbidden to punt the football out of bounds, which could result in a penalty. Much like the CFL, the XFL allowed one player to move towards the line of scrimmage pre-snap.  Although it is unknown whether or not these changes will be implemented in 2020, the XFL has tried several different rules and changes throughout Spring League.

Much like McMahon’s first attempt, the XFL will have TV rights from all major networks. And with a heavy influx of money, the time is better than ever for a new football league to succeed. But aside from the product on the field, and the ability to fill stadiums, the only thing the XFL needs now is a reputable sports video game. And that is where I believe the XFL and 2K two can form an everlasting bond.

Conclusion

In the end, there may never be another 2K football video game. And if that is true, we will forever remember just how iconic NFL 2K5 was. However, the writing is on the wall for a new installment to be released, and Vince McMahon’s newly rejuvenated XFL is the perfect league. Their unique rules, player names and different focus on the sport would be perfect for utilizing 2K’s presentation, style and gameplay.

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  1. I would be all for it if it was a true next-gen game graphically, and gameplay-wise.  For now, a robust fundamental experience would work just fine instead of a full feature set.  Scan the jerseys, players, stadiums, and make the next advancement of the APF 2K8 engine.  Then tie in the broadcast packages and start with a fresh commentary team.
    I think this kind of idea will have more legitimate traction in 2-3 years once (if?) the XFL has established a long term position in the professional football landscape. Until then I don't see it being a worthwhile investment for either side.
    I'll say the same thing I did about 2K and the AAF. Why would/should 2K drop millions on a league that hasn't even run a single season (in this case really a game)? I see legitimately no reason 2K should even enter into discussions with Vince's Alpha Entertainment about the possibility of a football game at this time. If the league can survive for 4/5 years then yea we can have this conversation.
    Too risky, the AAF didn't last as long as we hoped, being cut short mid-season, so what's to say that the XFL doesn't meet a similar conclusion. I'd rather see a NCAA Football 2K.
    mestevo
    I think this kind of idea will have more legitimate traction in 2-3 years once (if?) the XFL has established a long term position in the professional football landscape. Until then I don't see it being a worthwhile investment for either side.

    Fully agree.
    I don't see any developers investing into a XFL game unless it can prove it stay around long term. I'm sure Vince McMahon learned from the past stint and won't have same issues as AAF. XFL would have to be a phenomenal success for any developer to consider developing a game before XFL's 2nd season. But the earliest I would see a developer taking a chance is after 2 seasons.
    I'm not sure how interested 2K would be in XFL. 2k sports seems like a company who will only develop/continue to develop a game if it is selling well enough. They dumped APF real quick. They discontinued Baseball and Hockey. They arent in soccer business. They dropped out of college sports after they weren't selling well. So XFL would need to have sustained success before 2k probably consider it. Since XFL doesn't want to be similar to NFL, they wouldn't be making a tradition football game. I wouldn't see 2k building engine for a football game unless it can be very profitable
    Bolt957
    Too risky, the AAF didn't last as long as we hoped, being cut short mid-season, so what's to say that the XFL doesn't meet a similar conclusion. I'd rather see a NCAA Football 2K.

    I don't see 2k wanting to jump into College Football. They dropped out after 2k3. If they really wanted to make a college football game, they would have after they lost the NFL license. The demand for a college Football game is higher now then it was. So whoever develops a college football game, should see good sale numbers. You'll get hardcore gamers who want another football game, collegiate athletes who want to play as themselves, and college football fans. NBA is 2k bread and butter. But can afford to devote resources elsewhere since game is solid enough. But I feel they are holding out for the NFL. I don't think they want to develop a new football game unless they feel it will be profitable and have sustained success. I don't think it would be as easy as using APF gameplay engine. So if they have to build a new football engine, they will most likely wait for NFL.
    If 2k makes a college game, I think it would be CBB.
    "All-Pro Football 2K8*was a solid game,*without NFL rosters and licensing it just never felt the same."
    This was an almost criminal dismissal of APF 2k8. APF was a the true glimpse of what NFL2k5 was going to be from a gameplay standpoint and is, quite arguably, the best-playing football video game to date. Madden/Tiburon is still playing catch-up.....just NOW trying to differentiate superstar players from the average Joe's with a trait/abilities system similar to APF2k8's. APF is/was the non-licensed advancement of NFL2k5 on the field and thus is the true starting point for any conversation about a possible XFL 2k.....at least as far as gameplay is concerned.
    Kanobi
    "All-Pro Football 2K8*was a solid game,*without NFL rosters and licensing it just never felt the same."
    This was an almost criminal dismissal of APF 2k8. APF was a the true glimpse of what NFL2k5 was going to be from a gameplay standpoint and is, quite arguably, the best-playing football video game to date. Madden/Tiburon is still playing catch-up.....just NOW trying to differentiate superstar players from the average Joe's with a trait/abilities system similar to APF2k8's. APF is/was the non-licensed advancement of NFL2k5 on the field and thus is the true starting point for any conversation about a possible XFL 2k.....at least as far as gameplay is concerned.

    They've made other attempts to differentiate players though, everything from progression speed to the weapons system.
    I think the gameplay from a decade+ old series w/ years of development and a mountain of nostalgia will be where people expect the gameplay to be the starting point, but I doubt that'll be the case. Will be a whole new start, from engines to mocap, this will be years in the making when if/when it finally happens.
    I really wish we would stop blaming the failure of APF 2k8 on not having a license. This game was doomed when they (a) failed to include a franchise mode and (b) released it to go head to head against Madden.
    A generic football game will work if (a) the gameplay is good, which 2k was (b) have a viable franchise mode and (c) if it is released in the SPRING/early summer BEFORE Madden comes out
    Yeah I won't blame the downfall of APF because of license. I honestly could care less about NFL shield and real players. The main issue was the lack of depth. It was like they took a couple steps back feature wise from 2k5. I understand how hard it would be been to have a full franchise mode with legends. But they if were just going to do a single season mode. They could have gone in way more in depth with that lone season.
    It was a poor decision to release in that time frame. They released the day before NCAA 08. They were never able to truly to compete sell wise with EA in football. They should have released Late May/ early June.
    illwill10
    Yeah I won't blame the downfall of APF because of license. I honestly could care less about NFL shield and real players. The main issue was the lack of depth. It was like they took a couple steps back feature wise from 2k5. I understand how hard it would be been to have a full franchise mode with legends. But they if were just going to do a single season mode. They could have gone in way more in depth with that lone season.
    It was a poor decision to release in that time frame. They released the day before NCAA 08. They were never able to truly to compete sell wise with EA in football. They should have released Late May/ early June.

    I blame the license. It required them to innovate, they largely whiffed. Trashed all the functionality from NFL2k and with it most of the feedback loops people expect from a sports/football game game.
    Their attempt to innovate beyond that expectation failed so bad it killed the entire franchise.
    mestevo
    I blame the license. It required them to innovate, they largely whiffed. Trashed all the functionality from NFL2k and with it most of the feedback loops people expect from a sports/football game game.
    Their attempt to innovate beyond that expectation failed so bad it killed the entire franchise.

    In that sense, I agree. Not having the license, forced them to be innovative. Like you said, they whiffed hard. They must have set the bar unrealistically high salewise for the product they put out. If that was year one of a new series, that would have been considered a success because they had foundation set. With the legends approach, I don't know how much they could have expanded from there anyway. They should have had lower expectations.
    But I can imagine how difficult the process for a fully generic sports game could be. For the big companies(EA and 2k), want to be as authentic as possible. They have the financial backing and resources in order to make a generic sports game. But don't want to go that route because generic games don't sell well to masses. So like APF, they get pulled quickly. Lower/Indie companies don't have the same financial backing and resources to go all out. They have longer leash but fail due too lack of resources and notoriety. Even then they need strong promotion. If they could get a well known sports player to endorse and be on cover, casuals would buy.
    XFL would need sustained sucess for any company to consider making a game
    "But it wasn’t before long that the XFL would fold, forcing McMahon and NBC to lose a lot of money.Flash forward almost 20 years later…
    Now, after two decades, the XFL is preparing to make its triumphant return. And although things didn’t work out the first time, McMahon and his group of investors don’t foresee the same mistakes happening again."

    But it will fail again and it's hilarious they don't realize that. People don't like football that much. They like their NFL team and playing fantasy football and that's it.  Even if an XFL game has the best football gameplay of all time it won't matter in terms of sales.
    It really depends how you quantify success. AAF wasn't a failure as far as interest went, it was in a flawed state financially.
    XFL won't have that problem, at least initially.
    The problem is the costs to make the game. No one is investing money unless they know they can make a profit on this game or at least make a name to sell other games.
    You would think by now with all the engines out there, they just need to change how the players interact and let the physics happen. It is going to take a change to get 2k back.
    Better tech to just scan every game played, capture the plays, motion capture, player ratings, etc. Then feed all the info into the engines for physics, lighting, sound, etc. With the GPS tracking starting, maybe it won't be too far off.
    Sent from my SM-T820 using Tapatalk

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