It seems that sports games have been lost to the same dark side that we have seen first person shooters and real-time strategy go to as well.
Madden, MLB: The Show, and NBA 2K8 have all resorted to becoming nothing more than digital card pandering pieces of binary garbage. They have polished the graphics and added content to their Ultimate Team/Diamond Dynasty/MyTeam card collections instead of real improvement to the core game itself. For a few years I could understand the change I was seeing. I could compartmentalize the fact that I simply wasn’t their target audience.
Thanks largely to Twitch and YouTube streamers/content uploaders that open packs for the voyeur fandom to gawk over we have lost what was once the potential pursuit for true sports gaming simulation. I must give some of these guys credit, as they do have a certain pizazz to the way they carry themselves online. I even watch some of their videos – they do make it look like a fun experience. That is all great and wonderful until I get inspired to try my hand at online PvP against some random guy with a name like XxHitThatLoud420-69xX. You realize quickly that they play the game by using money plays and exploits. Suddenly, this potentially fun experience has you wondering if you’ve stepped into some effed up version of The Matrix. Just as you get ready to play a different game you realize that you don’t care if you lose this game because you don’t plan on playing it again.
Say what you want, but All Pro Football 2K8 proved one thing when they released a game with legendary NFL players. The same can be said for current players depending on the year as well. Some gamers love creating their own version of Dream Teams and I am one of them. I remember doing this back in Triple Play 98 when I would put Griffey, Frank Thomas, ARod, and others all on the same team. It became a habitual thing to do each year, but in the end I still wanted to play a challenging baseball game.
I happen to come from the generation of sports gamers that can remember Dr. J vs. Larry Bird on Atari 7800. I also remember Tecmo Bowl and Bases Loaded through Bases Loaded 4. RBI Baseball 94 was the first game that introduced me to the concept of playing a full season – I never finished one, but damn, it was pretty cool to have that option and even see the potential grow into franchise modes in other games. When they finally started to present us with multiple seasons and stats it was a dream come true. In all honesty, the graphical improvements were secondary for me after a while. I loved what Madden had turned into by Madden 2005. Hell, even MVP Baseball 2005 was one of the better games I had ever played in terms of – that was a year to remember when it came to EA doing some truly amazing work. Now it’s as if they have sold their souls and there is no looking back.
It seems that Franchise Mode has gone the way of the dodo in recent years. It is still present in all of these games, but it is a shell of itself. Much like Kobe and Jordan at the end of their career – you can see flashes of what they used to be, but in the end they just aren’t performing like they once could… and it’s sad. Madden Ultimate Team and MLB The Show’s Diamond Dynasty have essentially powered their way into a position that is most likely permanent and will eventually completely destroy innovation when it comes to gameplay and franchise mode.
This isn’t something I say lightly and it isn’t something I want to be known as an acceptable issue.
I do want those of you reading this to look at 2018 sports games with a critical eye and take this opportunity to speak with your wallet. It is time to demand the product that we have been denied for years. I urge you to avoid pre-ordering any sports game this year. If you are going to buy the game, look for it second-hand in hard copy form. Do not pay the full retail price if you feel compelled to play them. It’s time for these companies to feel the only kind of pain they understand – financial.