The Top 7… Things we hate about sports games

God forbid you get, you know, a job/girlfriend/wife/child/life these days and don’t obsessively keep up with the latest version of each game every year. That’s a recipe for disaster, since the likelihood that your favorite sports title has undergone a significant control scheme change is near 100 percent. What’s even more disheartening is the fact that we personally know dozens of very smart, very busy, and very sports-loving guys that aren’t hardcore gamers. Too bad these poor bastards have absolutely no chance at picking up the latest Madden or NBA 2K game and figuring out what to do. Controls have become far too complicated for all but the most dedicated players – and that’s starting to drive huge swaths of potential gamers away from some great games.

Above: Just what sports need – rote memorization of multiple button-presses for every little thing

What we want: Every sports game should follow the lead of NHL 09 from last season, and offer at least two significant control schemes. Go ahead, keep the one that needs a training course to ensure every last button and bumper is spoken for (twice). However, always factor in an NES-style scheme, allowing for one directional stick/pad and a couple of buttons – and that’s it. This way, everybody wins. Instead of spending a frustrating half-hour trying to teach your kids, parents, or wannabe-gamer friends how to play, you can actually, you know, play the game. What a concept!

1. Exclusive contracts

Sports wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for competition, yet in far too many cases today consumers have a single choice. Whether it’s EA’s stranglehold on all NFL and NCAA titles or 2K’s sole ownership of all multi-platform MLB games, nothing lowers the stakes of a good battle between rival franchises than one of them getting killed. We long for the fanboy flame wars of NFL 2K vs. Madden, College Hoops vs. March Madness, and MVP vs. MLB 2K. We know that developers still work hard on making their games as good as possible, but the lack of a direct competitor (or two) makes us think a lot more chances aren’t being taken.

What we want: The easy answer is to eliminate exclusive contracts and go back to the old days – and because we love easy answers, that’s where we’ll start. We won’t stop there, though. While it’d be nice to go back to the fun loving years of Madden and NFL 2K releasing on the same day, we want to see other great franchises come back, along with some new ones too. Did you realize Tecmo Bowl got a reboot a year ago? Probably not, because even though it’s got a lot of the charm of the original, playing without NFL teams and players meant it was dead on arrival. We guarantee you that someone other than EA and 2K could’ve taken the concepts behind the ultra-boring NFL Head Coach and Front Office Manager 2K9 and turned them into games that didn’t blow – but because no one else is allowed to touch ‘em, they were put out to die. It’s time to open up real sports back to the masses – which would give everyone a new chance at sports nirvana.

Nov 2, 2009

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