Growing up, I played tons of sports games every year. While some were on the realistic simulation side: Madden, NFL Quarterback Club, NBA Live, NBA 2K, Knockout Kings, Fight Night, FIFA, NHL, All Star Baseball. There were also many on the arcade-style side: NBA Jam, NBA Hangtime, NBA Street, NFL Blitz, Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey, Ken Griffey Jr Presents Major League Baseball, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out.
A few years ago, I sort of quit most realistic sports games for two main reasons. (1) They take up too much of my gaming time each year. Have you ever tried to play a full 82-game season of NBA basketball + the playoffs? It doesn’t matter how short your quarter length is. I also realized that it was time to give new types of games a try (RPGs, JRPGs, Indies, puzzle games and more).
Yes, I do still play many repetitive online multiplayer games (Fortnite, Call of Duty: Warzone, Overwatch and others). I still want to try out more genres and franchises I may have missed. Any time a new installment is revealed for an old game franchise I think about starting from the beginning. I also play tons of Gran Turismo Sport (and yes, that’s a sports simulation but it doesn’t need to take up so much time like the others — unless you want it to).
The other reason I had to quit most sports games is (2) they were the games that made me the most angry as a child. Mostly, because I’m not very good at them. There have been so many Madden games where I was up by less than a touchdown with two minutes remaining and the ball. I would run a stupid play, cause a turnover and end up losing the game in the final seconds.
“New” Madden Mechanics
When Madden introduced the hit stick that was the greatest and worst addition to the game. It made playing defense potentially more fun, but was also my downfall. I have always been someone who chooses to dive in Madden when trying to tackle a player. It wasn’t until just a few years ago (after playing Madden since 1996) that I realized you can just run into the player with the ball to tackle them.
The hit stick made everything so much worse. Every defensive tackle was attempted with the hit stick — always trying to cause the fumble. I would hit stick with one player, then switch to every other player in the vicinity and do the same — many of them diving to the ground with no one around.
Next came the truck stick and now every offensive play (unless I was running with the quarterback or attempting to juke or jump over a defender) would end with a truck stick. Many fumbles were caused because of the sticks (on offense, just a few on defense). I also always try to jump over tackles because when it works it just looks so damn cool, but that’s also a very risky (fumble-inducing) move.
In NBA games I would have a huge lead, get too comfortable and start shooting threes and running dumb plays until it was a close game, or I was behind again. In FIFA, I would commit too many penalties because slide-tackling in FIFA is the best feeling when done smoothly (but most of mine weren’t done smoothly).
Last year, with the pandemic + the NBA bubble + NBA 2K20 being free on PS Plus one month, I jumped back into NBA2K for the first time since 2K15 or 16. The NBA bubble also made me watch NBA basketball once again, or at least the Heat games. It was an exciting social experiment. And it was fun to see my team (the Miami Heat) go all the way to the finals with this team of young stars — of course, then we got shut down by LeBron and the Lakers, but still a fun season to watch.
The NBA Bubble season made me decide that I wanted to win the NBA Finals in 2020 with the Miami Heat in NBA 2K20 since we weren’t able to in real life. Of course, I played in a much more leisure way. I played on rookie difficulty if I went down by too many points. I’d start out in Pro, but shooting is impossible in that game. I think they want you to miss most of your shots, like in real life. The NBA 2K shot meter was invented to make you miss most of your shots.
For years I’ve noticed myself only playing a little bit of Madden, however I continued to buy the latest version because of Best Buy’s trade-in policy towards the new year. If you brought in last year’s copy of Madden to trade it in towards the new one you would receive an extra bonus $10-15. It also didn’t help that I would watch Hard Knocks on HBO each pre-season which would also get me hyped for the latest Madden.
Madden 20 was the last Madden game I purchased and I only played for a couple of hours before moving on. In past years I would move on to other games, but keep Madden around and play a couple of games each week in my Franchise.
Even though I’ve pulled away from my old gaming habits of sports sims (Madden, FIFA) and online first-person shooters (Call of Duty, Halo, Battlefield) I do come across a new “sports obsession” every once in a while. For instance, I downloaded PGA Tour 2K21 (as a FREE PS Plus game) the other day and I’m really digging it right now. I also mentioned how I enjoy playing my driving games, which could count as sports sims.
For all of these reasons I have decided to take my gaming talents to all types of games. I will no longer waste my gaming hours away on sports simulations — Ok, racing and certain games don’t count. As much as I love playing Madden and the NBA 2K games each year, I do start to think of how I’m playing the same loop over and over, but against “different players” or teams.
Of course, the same could be said about games like Overwatch and Call of Duty (online multiplayer). You’re basically running the same game modes over and over, playing with and against different combinations of players and heroes. I do still play some Overwatch every couple of weeks, but it’s not the only game I play every night — like before. I always keep some type of story or adventure game on my list (sometimes multiple games), while also having those repetitive games around for times where I don’t want to think.
I don’t see myself purchasing a brand new Madden, FIFA or NBA 2K game again in the coming years, but anytime they give them away FREE on PS Plus or Epic Games Store I will definitely give them some of my time — I’ve been doing that with PGA Tour 2K21 this past week.
Also, to EA and 2K Games if you’d like to send over the latest sports installments, I’m down to give them a try and write about my experiences. I just don’t think I need to spend so much money on these games, knowing that I don’t really have the time for them like I once did before.
I’ve said this many times before, but it’s time to bring back the classic arcade-style sports games. I’m also a fan of the current made-up sports games like Rocket League (aka Soccer Cars), Knockout City (aka FutureCity Dodgeball) and Splatoon 2 (aka Squid Paintball League?).
I still want to see real sports, but in fun and interesting new ways. We need some more NBA Street, 3-on-3 Hockey, NFL Blitz and those types of sports games that aren’t just for fans but for people who love games too. I bet these arcade games turned kids into real sports fans, I know NBA Jam made me appreciate NBA basketball more.
We also definitely need a new surfing game, although I have been messing around with Virtual Surfing on PC lately, which has a very cool physics engine and I hope to talk about it soon.