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The State of Sports Games in 2021

What on earth has happened to the sports game genre? Has there been a mass brain removal among the fanbase in the last 10 years?


I get it – sports fans tend to buy one or two titles a year, and they’re always exactly the same franchise. They’re like Call of Duty fans, except without the new maps, the new story levels or the new guns.

Instead you get a new roster and, maybe, a slightly new graphical sheen.

So ridiculous have things got that, on the Switch, EA posted a message saying their latest full price Fifa offering contained “no new game modes or gameplay innovations”. I’d give then 10/10 for honesty.

And yet…

People will keep buying them. It doesn’t matter what they do, so long as it features the latest rosters, people will be happy to shell out as much of their hard-earned cash as EA would like. Hell, chuck a literal casino in there, like NBA 2020. At that point, just find a real casino – there are plenty to pick from.


There are two parts to this. The first is that grown adults can spend their money on whatever they want. I’m not knocking their ability to choose what they want to play, although their choice is incredibly foreign to me.

I don’t really think you’re absolutely mad if you buy FIFA 2021 on Switch. I realize updated rosters are important, especially for diehards who live and breathe football.

But – and this leads me onto the second part – you deserve better. The guys behind these sports titles know you’re going to buy it year in and year out, and their gut reaction is to do very little to reward you for that. There’s only so much you can do to make American Football a better video game than what is out right now – but you could try and do something.

Red Card

Unfortunately, money talks. If sports developers are rewarded for their laziness, they will continue to act in exactly the same way.


The only real way they’ll learn the error of their ways is… if there is an error in their ways. If they put out something with a giant red cross next to it, with words in bold saying “THIS IS NOT A NEW GAME, LOL” and people read it and decide not to buy.

Then and only then is there a chance that something might be updated.

The diehard fans provide a shopping list of features that need updating, tweaking or adding. It’s that sort of community. They’re passionate and interested, they want the best from your franchise, and they’re willing to buy into it even when it sucks because of that.

And every year you see posts from those same fans upset that their shopping list has been ignored. The gut reaction is to blame the fans for continuing to buy it, but I think that’s probably the wrong way of looking at things.

Instead, we should be looking to the developers. You make a huge amount of money. How about rewarding your biggest supporters with something a little fresher?


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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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