The Crowd Goes Wild

The Crowd Goes Wild
The Stagnant State

Bill Abner | 9 Oct 2007 12:31
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Well, today we need them as much as ever - we just don't get them.

Companies are in no rush to issue an Xbox Live patch with 75 fixes in it. And again, it's a time issue. The development cycle is just too short. Oh, you'll see a patch that fixes online issues or maybe a roster update, but don't hold your breath for a major gameplay patch. Take NCAA Football and Madden, this year on the Xbox 360. Both of these games are plagued by interceptions. It's so bad, many hardcore football fans have shelved the games because of it. Consumers know there's a problem. EA knows it. When will we see a fix for this? The patch will be called NCAA and Madden 09. Cha-ching.

Really, you can't blame companies for leaving the PC. You have to go where the money is, and it clearly rested with the consoles. But whether you're talking about the console or the PC, it doesn't excuse the fact we're now in an era without post-release support and no user mods. It's something the genre desperately needs.

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The Media's Critical Failure
The media, by and large, has given sports games a pass. Usually, the only time you see a truly harsh review of a game is when the controls aren't up to snuff, or there are online issues, or the graphics take a step back. But the gaming press refuses to admit that we're playing the same game every single year and paying full price for the pleasure.

Imagine if Blizzard released a new StarCraft or Warcraft every fall, like clockwork; every August would mean a brand new, $60 game. However, the game would use the same engine, albeit with slightly better graphics, include maybe a new race or two and perhaps some new techs, and a dozen or so new maps. What would the reaction be? It would be a media bloodbath, especially after a few years of annual gouging.

Now, it's not quite the same with sports games. People want to play a new version with new rosters every year and will gladly fork over their money to do so. But eventually the media needs to start using its critical eye with sports games like it does in nearly every other genre. Sports games comprise 17 percent of the gaming market. They deserve to be analyzed just as closely as shooters, strategy and roleplaying games.

It comes down to this: I love games. I love sports games. I've loved them for as long as I can remember, going back to the stick figures in Atari Basketball. But the industry needs to get back to trying to make the best game possible and not just the best game possible in less than a year.

William Abner is a graduate of The Ohio State University and loves the Buckeyes more than any person should be allowed. He started writing about games professionally in 1996 and is currently the Content Editor at GameShark.com

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