If you consider our past reviews and comments on NCAA and Madden Football you will often notice a bit of a jaded view on their development, creativity and AI (Artificial Intelligence) for the CPU controlled players. This brings something to mind that has been suggested by multitudes of unhappy sports gamers – a biennial release/development cycle.
Most people can agree that sports titles coming out every single year are often no more than roster updates and beta-tests for possible future implementations (see ProTAK in Madden or Mascot Games …smh… in NCAA Football). It isn’t really unheard of to have biennial development. Call of Duty still manages to have a new title every year, but they are actually on a two year cycle with Treyarch and Infinity Ward getting a shot every other year. You can say what you want about how good or bad those titles are, but fact of the matter is that they bring something new to the table strictly because each developer has their one small twist on how the game should play.
Madden and NCAA could use a break every other year. The fact that EA has the sole license to develop these titles doesn’t really allow for this argument to go any further than a pipe-dream. However, take a moment to imagine how much better some of these sports games would be in a two-year cycle rather than ten-month cycle.
2K Sports is a prime example of doing well with one game and AWFUL with another. Their basketball titles are among the best ever made. Unfortunately, their baseball titles are some of the most glitchy and straight up bad looking sports games out there. If they were able to jump back into the football fray it would really force EA to step up their game.
This is where the biennial release of an NFL game for each company might pay off. The downfall is that some people hate how 2K Football games play and feel. It isn’t like being able to pick up Black Ops after Modern Warfare. It is more like playing baseball and swinging the bat right-handed all season and then being told that you have to be left-handed next year.
The only other option that will allow the proper amount of improvement is to allow developers to have equal access to make officially licensed sports titles and then let the consumer decide. EA bought the rights because they knew that they couldn’t compete with some of the things that 2K was doing. It was a smart business decision, but it was a cowardly way to punk out of having any sort of competition to drive the quality of their games.
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