Should Sports Games Be A Biennial Release?

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.

How do you feel about this?  Vote in the poll or comment below and be heard!

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Madden 13 – Is It Worth $60 At This Point?

*We have had multiple posts about Madden since this article.  Please check those out for more details.  We will have full reviews of Madden as soon as it is released!

The improvements being made to Madden 13 are catching some eyes around the sports gaming world.  The problem is that outside of some improvements being made to make the game’s eye-candy stick out we are still waiting to hear about the much needed improvements to Career Modes.  They have already announced that there will be something that ties career modes to an interactive web-based experience.  However, the fact that Online Franchise Mode has been bare-bones for three iterations is something that really takes away from any sort of community experience.

Girls and Games Are Alike… Good looks only get you so far.

With the still struggling interactions between O-Lineman and D-Lineman rendering many plays broken (Play Action Passes, just for one example) and then coupling that with other poor AI and animations… you have many questions still left unanswered.  Granted, we still have a few months until the game is released, it is worth considering whether or not Madden 13 will be something you are better off buying pre-owned rather than brand new. Rest assured that the game isn’t something you will need to pre-order in most cases as it is often readily available on launch day.

Outside of the chance that Madden 13 blows everyone away with some sort of new gimmick that EA will remove (See ProTAK, Procedural Awareness, Tuners, etc.) it will remain as a game that should be approached as nothing more than a roster update with a slight graphical facelift.  You can find Madden 12 online for around $20 on Amazon right now; if you are having that football itch that requires Madden to fill the gap, you would probably be okay to spend $20 on Madden 12 before pre-ordering Madden 13 at this point.

The moments of truth will hopefully come around the time that E3 starts in June.  Keep in mind that in our last brief write-up for Madden we focused on the hype machine and how it can suck people in early on in a game’s cycle.  You should keep your hopes up but also keep your expectations low.  Even with the reactions from EA Tiburon’s Community Days and the ‘dedicated Madden fans’ being posted, it would be a good idea to take their impressions with a grain of salt.  Remember, they have to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements and you don’t often hear too much negativity coming from people that get preferential treatment (why would you bite the hand that feeds?).

Once we get to June and July there will be a lot more information out there that EA wants to release.  In that case, you shouldn’t lose total hope in Madden or NCAA Football just yet; but you should also keep yourself grounded if you are hoping for groundbreaking improvements.