The lights are on
Sports games will be front and center when the new systems come out, but let’s not get carried away by the hype.
I’ve been bamboozled by my fair share of console launches. In previous console generations I got so caught up in the glitz and the newness of the moment that I lost sight of whether the games were actually any good. I don’t intend to this time around, and I hope you don’t either.
Here’s a list of some of things I would like to see in next-gen sports games – along with a list of things I think will be the smoke and mirrors features that developers will try and sell you on.
DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE
Graphics: Good graphics for a new system are a given. I don’t want to hear about how detailed the players are, because if that’s the main selling point, then the game hasn’t done enough to advance the genre forward.
Online: In an age when online services like Xbox Live are evolving platforms that exist regardless of the system, it’s not a huge feat to have your game always connected. Even in this generation, games like Need for Speed: Most Wanted are constantly using your game data in myriad ways.
Peripheral Support: While all the peripherals – whether that’s Kinect, Move, or even the Wii U GamePad – could be more integrated into the gameplay experience better when appropriate, I don’t see any of them being germane to the sports genre in a meaningful way. I think it’s a dead-end and a distraction for developers’ time and resources, not a signal of next-gen gaming.
The Numbers Game: When these next-gen sports games come out, there are going to be a lot of numbers thrown around. How many polygons or animations a title has will be boasted from the rooftops, and while they might be indications of quality, let’s not get caught up in the window dressing.
WHAT I WANT TO SEE
Full Feature Sets: Given that the new systems will certainly be powerful and disc space will be adequate, there’s no excuse to put out a next-gen sports title that lacks features. The debacle that was Madden NFL 06 for the current generation should never be repeated or excused. Getting features transferred over to the new games is a question of time and money, but seeing as how we’ve seen these systems coming from a long ways away, our games’ feature sets shouldn’t be gimped.
Smarter AI: I would love it if the power of the new systems could be dedicated to improve the behavioral artificial intelligence of the non-player-controlled players. Getting AI people in games to act like real humans is a tall order, however, and it's a problem that some developers think won’t be solved any time soon.
Improved Physics: Any increases in processing power should lead to more powerful game engines capable of more accurate detections of collision and the depiction of the results. The current-generation of systems do this to mixed results, so hopefully we’ll see some progress with the new platforms.
Screenshots from Madden NFL 13
Email the author Matthew Kato, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
the only way i'll play a sports game is if it is/has a well made, third person mode where you control one player on the field and the rest of the players have good enough AI to make it like a real game
to people nay saying sports games let me just say, I HATE SPORTS. firstly i suck at them, secondly, i hate watching them. i just think it is extremely boring. thirdly fanboyism over a team, to me, is just *** stupid.
saying that, i really like sports games, i think of it as like a fighting game, only plays instead of combos. i dont know the players, i dont know every single rule but it doenst really matter because its a video game, its just my competitive nature i think, but i just really like playing multiplayer games against my friends. and sports titles fit that niche nicely.
starcraft, mortal kombat, mario kart and madden all have that element of competition at their core.
I love my share of sport games especially NHL 13. How ever my biggest problem is the AI system as mentioned above. I know there is no such thing as a perfect video game,but i do think there is always room for improvment. When the AI is trading away top players for less talent is a problem for me.I would like to see more accurate trades and better control.
I would like to see many physics systems that equal the hilarity of the last couple of FIFAs
a college hoops game to go along with the nba
I just want EA to try again. Madden has been absolute garbage this entire gen.
How about releasing games every 2 years instead of every year? A pipe dream I know but I think games would actually advance faster if the devs had a longer off season. Maybe charge $15 for rosters and a decent update in the off years.
until EA has some serious competition from a rival developer they will never be pushed to develop a leading edge (game play, AI, online features, etc) football game, so until they get so real competition, we just get what they serve up, the world of monopolies continues
Great article and great suggestions, chief among those is the full feature sets. I'm not putting down cash for Madden or NHL 14 or whatever on next gen if it's just going to be a pretty looking game that got rushed to market without the features and technical prowess of the previous generation.
If they have to take a year off and just put sports games out on current gen consoles only then so be it, there's still a huge install base so they're not losing a ton of money by any means.
But I want the first next gen sports titles to both look, feel and play like I'm taking a sizeable step up from what's already out there, otherwise you're just stealing my money.
How about the game actually running like it should on Day 1 of release. It has got to the point where I'd rather just buy NBA 2K games when the playoffs start cause that is about when the game is actually complete with rosters and patches.
I've somewhat given up on sports games as of late. Maybe next gen will bring me back.