I see a lot of posts all over the internet bashing sports games, talking about how they are clearly a weak point in the world of gaming. They often times lump sports games in with other series that tend to release new titles every single year, not realizing or giving credit to the fact that there is a reason for this. Many gamers also like to snub, as they put it, “the type of people that would play sports games”, defining them as being the more “casual gamers” or “not real gamers”. Personally I think this is unfair, and frankly I am rather over it.
Let me state simply for all to know where I stand. I DO NOT play sports games, at least not traditional ones. It’s simply not a genre that I enjoy myself. I’ve tried a few here and there but it’s not for me. The closest I get is golf in GTA or mini golf games on Xbox Live. I do however WATCH sports. My father was a football coach when I was growing up, and for many years I participated in sports at school (thought I was never very good). I am not a huge fan, but I watch many sports and attempt to keep up with the happenings in those worlds.
Despite my lack of interest in playing sports games myself, I still feel it’s a genre worth defending. Whether I like it or not, sports games clearly and OBVIOUSLY have a market. EA brings in millions every year from selling sport titles. Someone is playing the games. It’s also unfair to assume that all of these gamers are just playing sports games, that they aren’t part of the whole that makes up gamers in general.
Because someone plays RPGs should they not have other interests? Can you not enjoy Halo and Madden? Is it impossible to play Pokemon and FIFA? This type of judgment is simply unfair, and more often than not untrue. It’s fair to assume that SOME gamers that play sports games only really play sports games. It’s not fair to assume that ALL gamers that play sports games only play sports games. You don’t get to determine a person’s place in the video game player community because they happen to like NBA games.
Generalizations like this lead to statements like “EA shouldn’t show sports games at E3 because no one that watches E3 plays sports games”. Can you back this statement up? What evidence do you have to support it? EA can afford to spend a lot less time on sports games at E3, that much I agree with. In their briefing more time was spent on sports than all of their other games, despite being the publishers for many titles that gamers were excited to see. That being said some of what EA had to show as far as sports games was worth showing. Completely cutting sports from their E3 block is a bit unreasonable. Also assuming that all gamers want it cut, that no one that plays sports games watches E3 is completely unfair.
As stated above sports games also get lumped in with other series with yearly releases. The big and important difference is there is a REASON for the yearly release of a sports title, unlike CoD or Assassin’s Creed. Lineups change for sports teams that often, new players get added in and dropped, rules change, teams themselves change for that matter. Sports, while to the outside viewer seems like the same ole same ole, is actually an ever evolving process. Changes in roasters alone call for a new game to be released with each new season, and still some changes might happen during the year that aren’t reflected in the game. If EA is going for realism in their traditional sports titles, then that realism calls for, in fact DEMANDS a new game each year.
Yet sports games are making strides that no one really seems to notice or give them credit for. NBA is bringing face capture technology to new grounds. While I have no desire to see it in a sports game this technology could be amazing for future games, and at least appeared (at E3) to be more developed than ever before. FIFA decided to finally bring female soccer players to the forefront, with little to no credit given to the developers for this choice. This is MASSIVE. The fight for women in sports is an important one, and FIFA took a stand both on the gaming front and on the sports front. Graphics are being pushed forward in many ways on sports games. They know they are releasing these games every year so there is a need to bring something to keep their base excited.
Is all of this enough to bring me to the sports game fandom? Nope. I think it is worth noting though, and worth defending the often bashed on genre.