Sports games are more advanced than ever before, but they could still be better. Here are three things we would love to see added to future sports video games.
More varied and straight-up better commentary
Play-by-play commentary has come a long way in the past two decades, from a small collection of short phrases to a library of diverse and somewhat life-like conversation. There is still a lot of work to be done though in order to make commentary anywhere as relevant to the action on screen as it is in real life. NBA 2K17 does the best job of this by commenting on whether your team or its players are on a hot or cold streak, but even its commentary becomes repetitive and dry over time.
Look, real life sports commentary is pretty asinine already, so it’s sad that the commentary in videogames is even worse. Games could benefit from much better scriptwriters. Heck, just take commentary from real games and see if it works in certain contexts. Sports games are making a ton of money of modes like Ultimate Team, so why not spend some of that profit on additional voice work, releasing new commentary every month so as to lessen its repetitive nature?
Most sports games aim to replicate with exact precision each and every aspect of a sport. With it comes a bevy of complex controls and often slower paced gameplay. The advance in technologies, especially computing power, has allowed developers to incorporate realistic physics and movement into the games – but that doesn’t always translate to fun. Developers could add arcade modes – simplified versions of their games that use less buttons and have exaggerated physics – as an alternative to the simulation modes. At one point, the NHL series had an arcade mode like this, while MLB The Show 17 will have a “retro mode” that aims to achieve many of the same goals. These modes wouldn’t require a lot of resources and would make sports games just a little more accessible.
I remember waking up on Saturday mornings when I was a young child, booting up the family computer, and clicking on the “FIFA 99” icon. The game’s representation of soccer was itself a ton of fun, but I found one other feature to take up a ton of my time: jersey customization. You could choose from a list of templates, apply different patterns, and choose whatever colours you wanted. It was all cosmetic, of course, but it was a ton of fun. And it kept me playing the game for longer than I normally would have.
Aside from jersey customization, developers should consider how valuable customization can be for keeping gamers glued to the screen. Expanding on create-a-play mechanics is another form of customization, and one whose impact is actual felt in the gameplay. Single player franchise modes would benefit from a little more freedom: let gamers change player ratings at any point in the season, let gamers create new players and add them to their roster whenever they want, and let gamers make trades between CPU teams. It’s a single player mode – fun and customization need to come before replicating reality.
What would you like to see change in sports video games?