EA and 2k are Killing the Sports Genre
In my 20+ years of gaming, I have known some pretty hardcore sports gamers. Back in the days when the Fight Night games were still a thing, I knew guys who would play the Career/Legacy mode of those games until they became undisputed world champion. Of every weight class.
I have never been one such hardcore sports gamer, but I definitely enjoyed sports games growing up. Part of this had to do with all the options that I had as a kid. Basketball games are my favorite sports games, and as a kid, I had NBA Live, NBA 2K, NBA: Inside Drive, AND 1 Streetball, Backyard Basketball (Believe it or not, the Backyard sports games were actually fun), NBA Hoopz, NCAA March Madness, and NBA Ballers.
The good old days when basketball games were all basketball and no gambling.
Fast forward to 2020, and we have NBA 2K and NBA Live. NBA Live has lived in the shadow of NBA 2K for years now, so basically, you just have NBA 2K. Which, you know, sucks.
Football games aren’t doing any better. When’s the last time you heard of a football video game that wasn’t Madden? I think that MLB The Show isn’t as horrible as its’ basketball or football counterparts, but it’s still pretty bad.
Whatever your sports game of choice may be, there are four constants in the modern sports genre: Microtransactions, stagnation, EA, and 2K. And these four things are making the sports genre arguably the worst in gaming.
$60 is a lot to ask for a video game, so it had better be worth the money. And modern, annual sports games honestly aren’t. As Angry Joe very furiously puts it in his recent rants about NBA 2K20 and Madden 20, modern sports titles are largely copy and paste jobs. Lazy ones at that, since they can’t even be bothered to fix the shortcomings found in last year’s entries. The only things that change are the microtransactions. Sports gamers are essentially paying for the “privilege” of resetting their accounts so that they can start at the bottom of the microtransactions, grind-fest ladder once again. Repeat ad infinitum.
Welcome to the new norm in sports games.
And since we are on the topic of sports gamers, we need to talk about the role they play in the downfall of the genre that they love. Because sports gamers are indeed enablers of video game industry villains like EA and 2K. A lot of these guys are hardcore sports gamers, but casual also gamers. What do I mean by that? I mean their investment in the gaming industry as a whole is very minimal. If they played Game Dev Story, chances are, they’d get zero of the gaming references. They don’t know about the way that Konami has treated Hideo Kojima since his departure from the company, or about Blizzard’s plummet from grace. They sure don’t care about these things. For a lot of sports gamers, gaming is just NBA2K and Madden, and that’s it.
It’s not really a surprise that people with very little investment in the video game industry aren’t as inclined to care about what happens to it, but you would think they’d at least care a little more about the game they pour hundreds of dollars and hours into right?
I was into a lot of trading card games as a kid and teenager, but folks like EA and 2K have caused me to despise even hearing the words card packs now. I guess that we should be thankful that the extreme sports genre has been long dead; otherwise, they’d ruin that too. I don’t even want to know what microtransactions in a skateboarding game look like. New deck tape for the low price of five dollars?
At the pace it is going, the sports genre of video games is completely doomed. The sports games put out by EA and 2K share the same harmful qualities that atypical mobile games do. They are very profitable for the developers, but extremely detrimental to the industry and consumers. One of the most effective ways to push back against developer overstepping is with your wallets. But a significant portion of gamers in the sports community don’t know or care how bad it is getting. Combine this with the ever-growing problem of pig consumer culture and gamers just accepting whatever it is developers give them, and I worry that these terrible digital casinos will permanently solidify themselves as the new norm of the sports genre.
There is a little ray of hope, though. Governments around the world are taking notice of the monetization practices of companies like 2K and EA. Last year, Belgium made loot boxes illegal, and despite some initial resistance, EA was forced to remove sale of FIFA’s currency to continue selling the game in Belgium. You may not like governments stepping into this matter for fear of oversight, but their actions at least bring more attention to the issue.
Even prominent figures in the sports community have spoken up and voiced their displeasure with the numerous problems in the most recent annual entries in the NBA2K and Madden series of games. If even more of them were to continue to take a stand against the severe decline of the sports genre, then maybe the average sports gamer will finally take notice of the issue and realize that they deserve so much better. There is only so much that we outside gamers can do. If real change is to ever happen in the sports genre, sports gamers are the ones who need to lead the charge.
Unless they start doing something to invoke change, and soon, what we have now is all we will ever have. And what we have now needs to die in an Amaterasu dumpster fire.
Even people in the sports community aren’t too happy with the numerous problems in NBA2K20. If the prominent figures of the sports community were to collectively take a stand against the severe decline of the sports genre, then maybe that will wake up the average sports gamer and get them to realize that they deserve much better. Because unless they start doing something to invoke change, what we have now is all we will ever have. And what we have now needs to die in an Amaterasu dumpster fire.