Sports games are in trouble

If you purchased the annual iteration of your favorite sports video game, then you probably haven’t cheered much for the past few years. Frankly speaking, this type is struggling, and even a new generation of game consoles is not the answer to revive it. Take this year as an example. Metacritic scores are not impressive for the biggest sports around. Madden NFL 22 won a bad 60, NHL 22, it promised to change its meta game, but was disappointed with 74. NBA 2K is largely the team to beat, but NBA 2K22 only scored 76, which is the lowest score seen in the series in many years. FIFA 22 and MLB: The Show 21 has the highest average score, about 78, but this shows that none of these franchises can break the 80 mark.

This downward trend has been going on for some time, and I am annoyed to see that the pattern is basically unaffected and similar technical errors appear year after year. It’s like watching your favorite sports team when they are in a downturn. Before you walk away and hope to perform better next season, how long do you have to wait and watch the constant losses pile up?

The problem is that there have been too many seasons now, and I hope that the next admission ticket is better, and it’s more than just one or two franchises. It is comprehensive. In the previous generation, sports types exploded with innovation, making the appearance and gameplay of sports games the closest to real life. In addition, developers are looking for unique ways to build communities around them and cater to multiple types of players, from creating a powerful franchise model to providing skill-based online games. And, most importantly, they are looking for new and interesting ways to attract sports fans. The visual concept shows the power of sports storytelling. By allowing you to create a player and lead them on a film journey, you can gain insight into the highs and lows of the stars, making NBA 2K’s MyCareer a must-play game.

It opened up a world full of potential and ignited the enthusiasm of their competitors. FIFA created Alex Hunt: The Journey and NHL’s becoming a professional player became a choice-driven story. Oops, Visual Concepts has achieved such a success, it even incorporated the storyline into NBA 2K18 and 19 Fashion franchise, Although the results were mixed. But at least, developers are trying new things, taking risks, and learning from each other about engagement and what makes people play games throughout the year.

Nowadays, sports games are safe to play, offering graphical upgrades and some new features, but none of the series really tries to revive the formula or change what was done before. Even if they make an effort, they will feel half-hearted. For example, NHL 22 is trying to get inspiration from Madden by introducing Superstar X-Factors and push to change its meta game. problem? These X-factors eventually become non-factors that make gameplay more rewarding or exciting, and the meta-game has not changed sufficiently to be noticeable, except for its flaws.

What is even more frustrating is that watching various patterns have been overlooked over the years without meaningful changes. I don’t remember the last time NBA 2K, NHL or FIFA really touched on the franchise model. Madden tried Franchise mode this year, but it was not enough to make it a must-play game.To make matters worse, things that don’t work or need to be improved remain the same; NHL’s dialogue in Be A Pro is ridiculous, and It’s stamp check When Madden was still full of weird glitches and clumsy interfaces, it was still overwhelmed.

The annual release of sports games does not allow time for large-scale changes, but each year is related to the smart improvement of the foundation by the developers. I am starting to expect that games in any sports franchise will be played more smoothly every year, and specific modes will get more attention, and will work harder to add meaningful content. When gameplay starts to fail, developers will start investing in new strategies to keep it interesting, such as finding ways to change the meta-game or implementing new systems that change the feel of gameplay, such as NHL 19’s improved skating. But in many franchises, too many things stay the same for too long. Madden’s game code is so old at this point that the developers are just solving the same problem, from capturing the animation to the players colliding with each other after playing, even if they try to add new features.

It feels like sports games are at a crossroads in deciding what they need to do for this generation of gamers. I don’t envy this decision, because sports fans have many reasons to pick up the controller. Ask anyone what their favorite mode is and why, and you will get a lot of answers. However, one thing will never change: these games are aimed at long tail games and can be played all year round. This has led many developers to invest heavily in an online-centric model that they can keep updated throughout the year. But even here, the rewards never seem to be large enough, or worse, they feel mediocre in execution.

Limited resources do not allow developers to easily decide what to focus on. There is a constant tug of war between making die-hard fans happy and introducing new players through more casual products such as FIFA’s Volta, Madden’s The Yard and NHL’s Pro-Am. There are always people left out, recently, This is the dedication of the players To more single-player adventures, such as franchise mode. Let’s face it: a model like this will not bring any additional cash.

NBA 2K22 may have made the most significant leap this year, trying to merge its popular MyCareer mode with the bustling online world The City, where players can compete against each other and shop around in pickup games and tournaments. Visual Concepts still has a long way to go in reducing intrusive microtransactions, and it is still a space hole that cannot be explored, but I see the potential.

I just saw WWE 2K22 give up its usual fall release in order to have more time to support things that excite hardcore fans. There is a 2K display mode, this is a playable documentary of WWE 2K, in which you can track the career or historical period of the legendary wrestler and participate in key competitions; My faction allows you to form and manage your own stables to fight against like four A great man like Cavaliers; this year, it launched MyRise, a new version of MyCareer that allows you to guide WWE rookies to become stars in a choice-driven adventure.

To be fair, the challenge of COVID-19 has undoubtedly made the past few years more difficult, and the burden on this type has become even heavier. However, these problems have already appeared at the end of the previous generation and will not disappear. Today, the roster upgrade is not enough to discourage fans, and loyal fans will eventually feel restless because of the excitement of another season, but the same problem reappears.

Developers need to press the reset button without fear, and it may take some extra time to rethink their games. In fact, sports contains a lot of creativity and excitement, but this experience cannot be transformed into a video game. Why? Because the developers have been using the same script. They don’t want to risk gaining glory for fear of failure, but I would rather see these games try new things and fail, rather than give me the same exhausting experience that has been for many years.