If you’re one to enjoy some of the top sports games – Madden, FIFA, the NBA 2K series, etc. – then you may have noticed that things have plateaued a little bit. The games are spectacular, don’t get me wrong. But they also haven’t gotten notably better in recent years, save updated rosters, up-to-date graphic improvement, etc. One could argue that sports gaming was more or less perfected about four or five years ago, and everything since has recommended only an incremental upgrade.
In some respects these games don’t need any big, bold, new features. Because teams change, players move to new situations, and leagues look different year after year, the developers behind major sports games can more or less count on players purchasing new titles every year or two in order to have the most current content. It’s an advantage most other games, or gaming genres for that matter, don’t have. At some point though, these games are going to become stale. So how can they really improve, rather than just keep updating?
Well, I’m so glad I asked. I happen to have a few ideas….
Let People Build Stadiums
Stadium design is interesting to a lot of sports fans. Indeed, it’s what drives actual sports franchise to continue renovating, updating, and improving real-life venues. Take Tottenham Hotspur’s new football stadium for example. It’s been called the Holy Grail of stadium design not because of some vague setup (like what we can already do in video games) but because of a seemingly endless lineup of features, architectural decisions, and special bits and pieces. Being able to design a stadium like this in a franchise mode in a sports game would be an incredible new feature. Basically, the more detail the better. It would truly make the franchise feel like your own product or project, and not just something the game’s allowed you to tinker with a bit.
Expand The Lifestyles
For roughly a decade now most prominent sports games have attempted to bring some degree of lifestyle into the equation. You might be able to manage your player’s apparel, take him from an amateur level through the pros, and even manage endorsements or make offseason decisions. Sports games could improve by expanding on this aspect of things. They don’t need to go full-blown Sims but adding a few more elements that could affect the player’s performance could be fun. Players could make decisions about whether or not to go out at night, how to handle a relationship, where to live, what specific commercials to do, and much more. All of this factors into a real athlete’s life, so the most accurate possible sports game should at least give players the option of dealing with it.
Let People Bet
It’s a little bit of an out there idea, and probably less likely in the near future, but sports betting is huge in Europe, much of the rest of the world, and getting bigger in the U.S. So why not include a real sports betting option as a sort of added feature in a video game? It wouldn’t even need to be a full-fledged sportsbook so much as the occasional promotion. Plenty of betting platforms offer bonus options now and then, and present occasional free bets because there’s nothing quite like getting a little something for nothing. So imagine it in execution: you log onto your Madden game, start playing, and an option to make a free bet on the next Sunday’s games pops up. Naturally it would be incentivizing you to make further bets, but on its own, it would be a fun and potentially rewarding feature.
Make Leagues Fully Customizable
People talk about tweaking and adjusting real leagues all the time when you think about it. There’s constant debate over whether the NFL should drop its preseason and extend the regular season. People want to re-seed the NBA playoffs and potentially bring relegation and promotion into the picture. Many want to adjust college, amateur, and minor league systems. These things move extremely slowly in real life, and fans have no control over them. In a video game, however, it’s possible to have fully customizable leagues. It would just give players more control over the entire experience, which is always a good thing.