Sports have inspired a wave of hugely successful and entertaining video games spanning through multiple franchises and developers. The market has grown tighter with EA Sports and 2K Sports beginning to dominate the industry with games such as FIFA and NBA 2K. But where does the future of a sport video game lie?
Virtual Reality headsets, motion capture and more powerful consoles and computers have aided the development of sport video games in the last decade. Graphics and gameplay have become incredibly realistic and the games have grown to become a pinnacle in the annual release category. However, an underlying feature of these games has continued to pull more players in, and it’s only a matter of time before developers realize the true potential of their releases.
NBA 2K, specifically, changed the ideology behind sport games with the introduction of ‘My Player’ or ‘My Career’ as a main feature of the games. Other sport games, such as FIFA, have had this game mode for several years, but they never encapsulated what players would really want to see. Players want to be professional sports-stars, and the NBA 2K series made that happen in a beautifully simulated world.
You create a rookie basketball player and get drafted into one of the many NBA teams with the dream of becoming the greatest. With stunning visuals, cut-scenes and a huge variety of different scenarios and situations, your decisions define your career. What you do on the court will affect your character during, before and after the match. 2K Sports have gained even more popularity with this focus, and it can only improve from here.
The character you create can be modified depending on your own specific game style, allowing players to mould them into the basketball players they wish them to be. Impressively, there is detail, depth and ulterior story-lines continuing throughout. NBA 2K14 and now NBA2K15 took this concept and made it more cinematic, story-driven and narrative to draw players in, but still improvements are necessary.
Personality is a major issue when it comes to sporting games. It is difficult to replicate the personalities and mannerisms in a game in a way that seems legit. Realism gets shifted aside as a result and players lose interest in playing. Specifically, players want to play a sport video game and be the heroes and superstars they dream of being. NBA 2K may have a fantastic ‘Career Mode’, but a lot of work has to be done in allowing players to breathe their own personality in the game.
Alternative games have tried to mix realism with player personality and emotion, and one of the most interesting of the past few years is I Am Playr. Completely in first-person perspective, players live the life of a soccer player on and off the pitch with decisions proving beneficial or costly in the long run. Using numerous cut-scenes, storylines and a host of celebrity cameo appearances, the game gained huge success when released on Facebook. Despite the popularity, the game has yet to be released on a home console or as a standalone, but the concepts proved to pull more players in. The audience is growing, and the expectations to have a more narrative player-driven storyline are there and that is where 2K Sports is currently exceeding.
NBA 2K is unique in many ways, and has set new standards over the past few releases as to what a sport video game should be about. Incidentally, several releases over the past few years, including the always popular Football Manager and Lords of Football releases show there is a market for a more realistic player-orientated style of game. The potential and opportunity is there, and it seems 2K Sports have decided to explore it in an exciting and innovative way.