By Lindon Walz
It’s that time of year again when all the big name football, basketball, and soccer video games are hitting shelves, ready for purchase. But for many people, there is something that turns them off from the latest sports game: a 60 dollar price tag. This may confuse some people who see the same people paying 60 dollars for the next installment of the Elder Scrolls or Grand Theft Auto, but anyone who feels this way could explain this to you simply. Many believe that sports games lack innovation each year, claiming that most sports games offer a slight graphical upgrade and a roster update, but demand 60 hard earned dollars.
When people buy a sports game they do it to virtually play the sport featured in the game. This is one of the main issues with innovation in sports games, since developers only need to update the standard game, franchise, my player, and practice. Many of the extra modes are something that players demand, they were just options developers added in an attempt to justify the price. Without these unnecessary modes, such as “Ultimate Team”, which is just fantasy football, the core game hasn’t really improved or revolutionized throughout many sports series.
Nevertheless, sports games’ graphics have evolved throughout the years. The first sports game, Tennis for Two, consisted of hitting a button to return a simple dot on the screen. Sports games soon became a big hit in the arcade and eventually, the home console. Soon, realistic people were featured, and some sports games started changing the camera angles to simulate an aired sports game. The improvements kept piling up in the 80’s and 90’s, seeing their true potential when games got 32 and 64 bit processors. The games were now hyperrealistic and the games seemed to have no limits. Unfortunately sports games have found a limit: the developers have run out of ideas.
Sports games are popular and entertaining, most of the time, but they don’t have a good development period because the release dates are so close together. This commitment to a yearly releases has actually stifled creativity. With such a short time to come up of new ideas, many of the members of the creative team cannot think up new ideas and have to think of ways to “improve” pre-existing game modes. This not only hurts the games themselves, but it also hurts the people who earn their money from being creative.
Sports games aren’t the only franchises that put out a yearly release, but many of those series are starting to stop this insane practice. For example, Ubisoft’s flagship franchise, Assassin’s Creed, will not release a game in 2016. Some speculate there will not be a new game release in 2017 either. Some fans may be disappointed, but from what the company has said about the game, it sounds like it will be a great game that changes the series for the better. This is a great example for companies that make sports games to follow.
The sports game market is by no means in trouble. In fact, it is probably one of the most profitable due to so many non gamers enjoying them, as well as standard gamers. But even if the market is fine for the developers and publishers, it doesn’t mean it it’s all good for the consumers. Although sports games can be fun and enjoyable, shelling out $60 for a game each year that is only maybe a little better than the game from last year is not. Pretty soon, sport games could become a thing of the past because people don’t want to spend $60 a year on one game series.