Sports games are evolving in the recent years and adapting to a newer generation. The days of Madden seem to be coming to a close as games like Rocket League and new addition Roller Champions start to take the scene. So does this mean that the old school sports games are on the out to make room from the newer, over the top ones?
Sports Games as a Whole
Ever since the 50s when Tennis For Two was created, sports games have evolved and become more each year. There is a new edition to a sports title just about every year, giving fans of the genre of games more and more to look forward to. With a cycle of reused assets equipped with a new feature in each additional game, there are no signs of stopping. Madden and NBA 2K continue to release each year to critical acclaim and the purchases of fans to back the production. With this style of development, it is easy for companies to produce quality titles and add a small amount of new content, maximizing profit.
With this rehash of old features in a new game, it is easy to assume that players will begin to notice and call out the games. Innovation begins to get stale and there is only so many more features that you can add to a sports title. Career modes seem to be the biggest portion for new features in any game. Creating a new scenario to overcome while adding in sponsorship deals and story arcs. However, is that enough to justify the practice?
Extreme Sports Games
I will be honest when I say that I have never been a fan of any sports game outside of MLB’s The Show. I am a die-hard baseball fan until the day that I die. Seeing this, I have never been the one to go out and purchase the newest Madden or 2K sports title. I would play them only in boredom and only because my sports fanatic older brother would have them. Like most kids in my era, the big focus was on games like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.
Extreme Sports games had a huge spike in the early 2000s with mostly skateboarding games. Tony Hawk’s Underground was in my opinion a masterpiece of what career modes in sports games should be. It had an engaging story mixed with the sports gameplay. However there was something more that really tapped into what really made it great and stand out.
Over the Top Action
When it comes to video games, they are an escape from the mundane world of real. We long for the ability to be more than what we really are and that is the case with video games. It doesn’t matter if we are saving the world from a deadly virus or a meteor summons by a white haired villain. We also want to be more than what we are. Basing a sports game in reality is a thing of the past. Players have moved past the rehashing of old.
True fans of the series will keep coming back for more, while the new gaming audience has begun to move onto a new form of sports.
When it comes to the new age of sports games, everything is moving forward into eSports. This is the world in which any gamer can become a professional. League of Legends blazed a trail for any Joe off the street to sign a professional contract. When it comes to actual sports games, the ante was raised into the ultra-extreme. Rocket League is the leader in this new category of sports games. It features cars in a Football (Soccer) setting. This is what the future of sports gaming is, a combination of one sport into a much more extreme setting, to give that feeling of the gaming escape. Newcomer Roller Champions from Ubisoft takes on an extreme sport with an anchor in the real, but maintains the escape mentality. I for one have tried this title and loved everything about it!
When it comes to sports games, the fans of new will begin to merge towards that of the extreme and over the top. Esports are taking over when it comes to sport games. The promise of going pro will tempt the newer gamers entering into the gaming world. It could be an FPS or just a football game featuring cars instead of players. The fact of the matter is, the evolution of sports games has come a long way from John Madden to just any skill player in their esport.
One day I am sure, not too long from now, there will be a huge focus on esports as an actual event. I can see national television picking up event to cover. Who knows, maybe one day the superbowl will be replaced with an FPS game event that draws in millions of viewers. I certainly hope so!