Sports games' franchise modes are often seen as a grind, with one season blurring into the next. But it doesn't have to be that way. Have you finished the season with your beloved franchise and wondering what to do next? Here are some fun ways you can change things up, introduce some challenge, and get excited about next season.

Financial Fair Play
In sports or situations where money is not an issue for your team, you can add a wrinkle to your new season by imposing limitations on the players you sign in free agency. I'm a Manchester City fan, so in FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer, money isn't a barrier to signing virtually anybody in the world to my team. But when I restrict myself to younger/little-known prospects, English players, those from the youth academy, or my own imaginary salary cap, suddenly I have to be more careful and thoughtful about my squad for the upcoming season. That feeling of satisfaction is much greater when a young player I've given an opportunity to legitimately earns a spot on the squad versus just buying Messi for the lineup. You could even institute a signing freeze every other year to challenge you to make the most of what you have.

Give Yourself a Promotion
A natural way to segue into the next season as well as give yourself a challenge is to jump up to the next difficulty level (if your franchise lets you do that after the initial setup screen). If this makes the game too hard or you are already at the top difficulty setting, you could adjust the sliders to change an aspect of the game you're already good at, such as running the ball in football or pitching in baseball. Or perhaps you could toggle various HUD indicators to give you less onscreen feedback while playing.

Miracle Worker For Hire
Investing in your team and reaping the rewards season after season is a big draw of a franchise mode. However, that doesn't have to be with the same team. After you've won the championship with your current team, take control of the Cleveland Browns, New York Knicks, or other seemingly insurmountable clusterf--- of a franchise, build them up, and then move on to the next reclamation project. Put your skills as a player, coach, and GM to the ultimate test or prove once and for all that that there really is something in the water and that curses are for real.

Wear Different Hats
Expanding out a little from playing a franchise mode, sports titles these days come stuffed with so many different modes, so make use of them all. From Ultimate Team to online competitive play, there's no reason to be bored playing a sports game. Even within the franchise mode you could sim the gameplay itself and concentrate instead on being a shrewd, wheeling-and-dealing GM who can parlay roster trash into draft pick gold. Or you could concentrate on wringing every penny out of the fanbase, move the team, and/or maximize your bottom line. NBA 2K17 lets you vote on new NBA rules, which I think is a cool feature that gives you a flavor of being an owner that's not just about nickels and dimes.

Roster Re-Org
Similar to self-imposed restrictions in free agency discussed above, you could be creative in how you put together your roster. Make your starting lineups very young. Only sign aged veterans and create a team of fantasy superstars...from five years ago. See if you can win with nobody with an overall rating over 77. Make sure you start some or all of your rookies. Dive into the player editor and tweak their attributes to make them worse/more realistic/all the same, or whatever. Apart from having some fun with your roster, who knows, in your experimentation you could find that great player already on your team that you otherwise never would have known about.

I hope this article has given you some ideas for enjoying future seasons of your franchise mode and sports games in general. But don't stop here, get inventive. Jumble up your batting order, only draft players named Charles (first or last), only run the ball, set a minimum number of passes before shooting on goal – there's a whole other game out there just waiting to be played.

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THE TICKER
A quick rundown of some of the sports news from the week.

Everyone's Golf Gets a Release Date 
Formerly known as Hot Shots Golf over in the West, the latest in the series has some "open-world" elements like golf cart racing, fishing, and treasure hunting. It sounds like a cool way forward – as long as it augments and does not get in the way of the franchise's traditional, solid golf gameplay.

UFC Champion Demetrious Johnson Talks About His Other Career: Twitch Streaming 

Steep Getting Sleds In Upcoming DLC 
You can check out the trailer here

Codemasters Goes a Little More in Depth With Dirt 4's Your Stage Feature 
You can also check out my previous, hands-on Sports Desk coverage here

Project Cars Dev Slightly Mad Studios Working On New Franchise 
Studio head Ian Bell tells GTPlanet that it's "sort of" a racing game.