The Monopolization of Sports Titles in the Games Industry
Everybody knows NFL 2k5 was the best football game ever made. Why was it such a good game? How could it be better than Madden, the leading competitor at the time? 2K Sports knew that if their game wanted to sell, they would have to make a quality product that would stand out from the towering giant of Madden. 2K’s success depended on the quality of their game, making them strive to create the best product available. Unfortunately, right after 2K Sports and Sega released this benchmark football game (it was only 20 dollars too!) the NFL and NFLPA sold their exclusive rights to EA. This made Madden the only NFL licensed video game franchise.
This creates a problem when EA then uses this as an excuse to make a sub par product every single year. Which is what they have been doing for the past few years, because they know that if a gamer wants to play an NFL game, his only choice is Madden. Yes, the Madden games are the main culprit and gamers love to hate EA, but they are not the only games or developers that have a monopoly over their respective genre. Sport games in particular are the most susceptible in the games industry because of licensing agreements with sports organizations.
The EA Canada NHL series is another example of a publisher having no competition for their product. The 2K sports NHL series created it’s last game back in 2011 and haven’t made an NHL game since. Well known criticism by the fans argue that Madden has been essentially releasing roster updates as full priced games every year, well EA has been doing the same with their NHL series. The fundamental game has remained largely unchanged since 2011, the year that the 2K series went bust.
Recently, in January of this year more specifically, 2K Sports announced that they were not going to make an MLB game for 2014. Their previous instalment in the franchise MLB 2K13 was bashed by critics everywhere. Why? Because of the lack of new features and additions, it was generally considered to be just a roster update from it’s predecessor. This game series failed because it continued to produce mediocrity and would not take the time and effort required to fix their problems and make it a game truly worthy of your hard earned money. So why do games like this fail while EA’s Madden and NHL games continue to release with little to no changes at all and still expect us to pay full price year after year? Because gamers keep buying them.
Why would the developers and publishers bother to put in time and money to improve the game when they know that they will still sell millions of copies even when it is pretty much the same game they released last year? The answer is that they don’t. This is a business, and the main point of a business is to maximize profits while downsizing costs. Even if doing so hurts their very own consumers, and potentially costs them some of their clients along the way, the positives vastly outweigh the negatives.
If you don’t want to pay a full 60$ (plus tax mind you) for a roster update every year, then don’t buy it. The only way that the public will truly get through to these massive corporations to get them to listen is through wallets. EA’s partnership with the NFL and NFLPA expires this year. For the good of the games industry and the games that we love to play, here’s hoping that they don’t renew.