Tomorrow marks the release of Madden NFL 15, the latest in a long-running series of NFL games published by EA Sports. This year’s title is generally regarded as an improvement from 2013’s game. The improved defensive mechanics are the big selling point, and are what most reviewers are praising this newest installment for.
Gamers complain all the time about how little Madden changes year-to-year. Other than improved graphics, not much changes or gets improved upon. Sure, this year playing defense will be better and more fun, but next year I bet they’ll be marketing new and improved defensive controls or maybe even a new way to play on offense. By releasing a new game every year, there is only so much they can do. This situation arose because there is no competition when it comes to making NFL games.
EA has an exclusive license to be the only publisher to put out NFL video games. This came about back in 2004 when 2K released a superior NFL video game (which fans can get very vocal about in the comment section of any Madden article on gaming websites) that threatened the sales of EA’s game. EA scrambled and paid the NFL a large amount to be able to be the only company that can produce NFL games. In the years since, with a lack of competition for their product, the Madden NFL series has been stagnate.
Looking at basketball games, it’s no doubt that with the release of NBA 2K11 back in 2010, with the GOAT himself appearing on the cover, 2K claimed the throne of basketball simulators. EA tried to combat them with NBA Elite 11 in 2010, but cancelled it due to it being unsatisfactory and the gameplay needing a large amount of polish. Since then, 2K has not been very innovative with their development of the NBA 2K series. 2K11, 2K12, and 2K13 featured little changes in the gameplay department; the biggest selling point was the introduction of more and more classic teams. Thankfully, with the release of NBA 2K14 on the newest consoles, 2K stepped their game up. The graphics were drastically improved and their “MyCAREER” mode was revamped with cut-scenes and RPG elements. Coincidentally, EA revitalized their NBA Live series at the same time with the release of NBA Live 14.
With this competition, 2K decided to step their game up, even though fans were still disappointed by the overuse of VC and the annoying animations during gameplay. However, NBA Live bombed so badly in the gameplay and graphics departments that consumers still stuck with 2K. That may change this year as fans are getting fed up with 2K and may look to EA’s NBA Live 15 as a change of pace if 2K15 doesn’t deliver a satisfying NBA experience.
It seems like sports games are the only ones with a serious lack of competition. How many NHL, FIFA, or tennis games are made each year? And yet, if I asked you to name off five recent FPS games, you easily could. The MOBA genre is growing, each trying to one-up their competition. How many RPGs are on the market?
Fans of football have been waiting patiently for the day that EA’s exclusive license expires so that other developers can have a chance at making an NFL game. Hopefully NBA Live can provide the kind of competition to 2K that can propel both series to new heights. As gamers, we are left waiting.