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2012: The Year Sports Gaming Survived Stuck
Posted on January 9, 2013 at 07:20 PM.

Sports gaming is predictable, right?

If you predicted Madden NFL 13 to suck, NBA 2K13 and MLB The Show 12 to take a step back, and that arcade sports gaming would never return, you were likely applauded for these "rash" yet "true" statements.

Well, turns out, this past year was possibly the most unpredictable year in sports gaming since I can remember. But that doesn't leave me without worry. It's possible this will be the last full year before new consoles start arriving from Microsoft and Sony, and if so each sports title will be rebooted for the new systems. In short, my worst fear is to relive the horror and torture received going from Madden NFL 06 on the XBOX to the Xbox 360. I wouldn't even wish that on Steve.

So instead of doing the usual yearly expectations blog, let's step outside the box. Here are five surprises from 2012, with a way that each developer can continue their success moving to console's next generation.

Madden NFL 13

What Was Good: Connected Careers

Madden NFL 13 gave life to what felt like a dying franchise to the hardcore fans. Connected Careers creates your own NFL world. It immersed you in ways I was never sure possible. With the stories and Twitter feed combined with the scouting and progression, Franchise mode's replacement is awesome.

What Should They Do Next?: Be innovative, but don't get lost in new features. Connected Careers is already a great mode, yet it's only the foundation. You made something good, now make it great.

NBA 2K13

What Was Good: Gameplay

I never expect to be disappointed by an NBA 2K game. To be honest, I expect to be surprised. And this year I was. NBA 2K13's gameplay felt so much more polished than in the past. They have stuck with the same approach, of refining their game, and it has worked wonders.

What They Should Do Next: NBA 2K needs to transition to the new console generation the same way they did last time: seamlessly.

NHL 13

What Was Good: True Performance Skating

It blew my mind the first time I saw it. Easily my most vivid memory of E3 was being shown the video comparing NHL 12 and NHL 13. Then once I was able to hit the sticks, my mind was blown again. It really is a thing of beauty when a video game successfully introduces physics in a new way.

What They Should Do Next: Outside of some extra features in game modes, the NHL 14 crew really needs to keep fine-tuning gameplay. The Vancouver crew won't let us down.


What Was Good: The whole damn game.

C'mon, every person who bought this game on Day 1 fell in love with it instantly. With stunning graphics that resemble real-life landscapes and arcade style gameplay, SSX earned a 9.5, OS' highest score ever, from Chris Sanner, who is a very detail oriented guy, even if Steve says he's pitiful. And don't forget about the Deadly Descents, the most exciting part of the game.

What They Should Do Next: Well, there is no reason to make a new SSX anytime soon, but still plenty of time for some more DLC. More Deadly Descents, please.

Are you concerned sports gaming might drop off once new consoles arrive?
# 1 fakeimmigrant @ Jan 9
This article feels half finished. No talk about FIFA, PES or either sports games. I know you stated your five things, but a whole look at the year of 2012 in Sports game would have made a lot more sense and made this piece more engaging for other to read and comment.
A lot of talking points: The sales struggles of UFC 3, even though a fantastic title; the question marks regarding baseball; no EA Basketball and the lack of arcade titles. Not to mention the surprise that was PES and the 'what could of been' with GST2.

2012 was an incredible year for sports games, both good and bad and 2013 will certainly be an interesting one as we transition to the next console generation. Also, how sports games evolve on iPad, Surface, iPod and other handhelds?
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