Feature Article
OS Roundtable: Which Niche Sport Is Begging For A Video Game?

There are tons of non-major sports in America, but only the most popular sports game games. Some games like Cricket and LaCrosse do have representation, but others don't. What sport which doesn't take up a huge part of the attention in the mainstream is begging for a video game?

Robert Kollars: Even though college fans now sit and wait for the outcome of the O'Bannon vs. NCAA trial, I still have to make a case for NCAA Baseball. The '06 and '07 versions were two of my favorite sports titles of all time. So much so, that I repurchased an original Xbox 2 years ago just so I could play this series again. Although NCAA baseball may not be the money grab that is NCAA football, I still feel like, if done correctly, could generate enough interest to make it viable product.

Ben Vollmer: Before I get into a more realistic option, I wanted to mention how much I'd love to see the return of the world's most famous fictional sports game: Quidditch. Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup made a decent attempt at capturing the magical game, but it's a pipe dream of mine that we'll see a FIFA-like attempt at Quidditch.

In a more realistic sense, I think it would be great if we could get an all-encompassing Olympic video game, simulation style. Imagine bringing the motion controls of a Wii Sports being brought to all of the sports you would see in the Olympics. It wouldn't be for everyone, but seeing as the Summer Olympics are still a couple of years away, there would be time for development to get rolling.

Glenn Wigmore: A few ideas come to mind for a "niche" sport that I think belongs in the game space, likely through a digital release. My main thought is for a volleyball game to match the likes of Super Spike V'Ball back on the NES (and in the arcades). The gameplay and multiplayer of that title still holds up to this day, and an arcade release could do gangbusters if made by the right studio.

As for another non-major sport that could do with a release, it would be really cool to see a CFL game (or mode) so that Canadians could get some love for their beloved football league. There probably wouldn't be a lot of traction for the idea, but I think many people would see the fun of the sport and some of its unique rules more clearly in game form (bigger field, three downs, better OT format, one point for punts through the endzone, etc). It's a dynamic sport that could be fun as a digital game.

And for silly sports, I'm still waiting for reboots of Skitchin' and Windjammers. Those games also totally hold up today, and it would be fun to see them come back in a digital format.

Matthew Coe: When I think of niche sports games that I enjoyed in the past, I think of games like Top Spin Tennis, and the Outlaw Golf/Tennis/Volleyball games. But one game really sticks out: EA Sports Rugby 2005

Now I'm fully aware that we got two Rugby games on the 360/PS3 console generation, and I own one of them. What I'd love to see on the current hardware though, is a new Rugby game that shows intelligent A.I., smart strategy, and naturally great graphics. It would probably be a digital download game, but if it were done by a good developer with a passion for the sport, I think it can be done well and serve the niche that it's intended to fill. Give me Rugby on my PlayStation 4!

Caley Roark: Here's a crazy one that could easily make the transition to the virtual realm: Chess Boxing.

First, if you don't believe that this is a thing, check out the Wikipedia entry. Basically, players alternate between rounds of chess and boxing; victory is achieved with a knockout or check mate. You could combine any chess sim with a solid boxing game. Then, have your performance in the boxing game affect the chess portion: shaky screen, time handicaps, out of focus video, etc.

This game would be a blast to play online, and would truly pit brains verses (thumb stick) braun.

Jayson Young: The two NCAA Baseball games that appeared in 2006 and 2007 were essentially a product of Electronic Arts thinking, "We've already got the NCAA license and a great baseball engine in MVP Baseball, so why not put the two together for a quick payday?"

Now that EA Sports -- as far as we know -- has neither on hand, I can't see them investing in a sport with limited international appeal that receives only a few weeks of coverage in the American media's yearly sports cycle.

I doubt that Sony San Diego would want to strike an NCAA deal, either, since they are a relatively small studio (75 employees) that's already spread thin across three separate versions of MLB The Show.

So who might take on a niche sports project? Sony, again, seems like an unlikely source, since the company just posted a $1 billion operating loss this past fiscal year, and their most recent non-baseball title, NBA 10 The Inside, released five years and one hardware generation ago. Major publishers like Take-Two Interactive and Electronic Arts have shown no interest in funding niche projects on the PC, PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, due to the increased costs of making high-definition, online-capable products, which still sell for the same $60 that they did when the industry was designing standalone software for low-res tube TVs.

Gamers may see sports like boxing, tennis, volleyball, track and field, rugby, cricket, cycling, darts, bowling, lacrosse and many non-revenue-generating collegiate sports on their televisions, but if those activities are going to receive modern video game equivalents, the effort is likeliest to come from small independent teams like Crosse Studios, Big Ant Studios, Cyanide Studio, Mana Games, et al., not from the familiar logos that used to line PlayStation 2 bargain bins.

Member Comments
# 1 bxphenom7 @ 07/02/14 01:26 PM
I'd pay for a CFL game from 2k, easily. Well, of course if done well...but i don't think I have to worry about that.

EA should definitely return to NCAA Baseball though, would be nice.
# 2 mcmax3000 @ 07/02/14 02:07 PM
There was a really good beach volleyball game on the Gamecube. I don't remember what it was called, but I remember really enjoying it when I rented it.

I think Sega put it out.
# 3 WestTexasBest @ 07/02/14 02:07 PM
just my 2 cents but Super Dodge Ball on SNES is still one of my favorite games growing up it would be awesome to have up to date version
# 4 GrandMaster B @ 07/02/14 02:10 PM
Bowling people. Imagine PBA Tour license on current gen consoles with online leagues and a career mode.
# 5 nate1986 @ 07/02/14 02:15 PM
What about volleyball
# 6 boogie2266 @ 07/02/14 02:23 PM
There once was a squash game for MS-DOS I would like to see a nextgen port!
# 7 jyoung @ 07/02/14 02:41 PM
Originally Posted by mcmax3000
There was a really good beach volleyball game on the Gamecube. I don't remember what it was called, but I remember really enjoying it when I rented it.

I think Sega put it out.
That would be Beach Spikers, an arcade game made by by SEGA's old AM2 team and released exclusively on the GameCube.

It was a great four-player game, and even the single-player modes were fairly interesting, since there was a metagame going on where your AI partner would play better or worse, depending on how you treated them between points. You could choose to yell at them, console them, encourage them, or remain silent.
# 8 Thrash13 @ 07/02/14 03:10 PM
NCAA Baseball will always be at the top of the list for me. I still play MVP NCAA Baseball 07 on my PS2. A college baseball game for PS4/XBox One would be amazing!

I'm all for a licensed tennis or PBA Bowling game though, and Table Tennis would be fun too.
# 9 Dazraz @ 07/02/14 03:15 PM
I would like to see a new Tennis game.
# 10 XXstormmXX @ 07/02/14 04:35 PM
High school football. Someone could make a game with generic teams and allow users to customize for real teams.
# 11 Eyeman79 @ 07/02/14 05:08 PM
There are niche games available, but most seem to be from Australia: rugby, rugby league, cricket, AFL. Or from Europe: Team Handball, Tour de France. Its a shame we don't have any smaller developers like Big Ant willing to take a chance on the less popular sports. Put me down for lacrosse or any college sport, which now seems like a lost cause.
# 12 elgreazy1 @ 07/02/14 07:11 PM
Originally Posted by WestTexasBest
just my 2 cents but Super Dodge Ball on SNES is still one of my favorite games growing up it would be awesome to have up to date version
# 13 jyoung @ 07/02/14 07:17 PM
Originally Posted by WestTexasBest
just my 2 cents but Super Dodge Ball on SNES is still one of my favorite games growing up it would be awesome to have up to date version
There is actually an updated version of Super Dodge Ball, called Downtown Smash Dodgeball, that sells for $5 on the Xbox 360's Indie Channel:


It's made by Miracle Kidz, which is a group of former Technos employees (Technos went bankrupt in 1996).
# 14 spidertour02 @ 07/02/14 08:11 PM
I'd really like to see a new tennis game. I played the hell out of Top Spin 3 a few years ago, and I would love to see something with a similar level of technical polish and simulation approach applied to a much better career mode.
# 15 BaylorBearBryant @ 07/02/14 08:44 PM
It may be obvious, but I'd have to say NCAA. Seems like there's quite a niche for college sports.
# 16 mjarz02 @ 07/02/14 09:19 PM
College Hockey and Horse Racing
# 17 asu666 @ 07/02/14 09:23 PM
I love Rugby Challenge 2 and would like to see a current generation update.
# 18 BCDX97 @ 07/03/14 01:27 AM
Sadly, these games would all sell poorly.

My favorite niche games are the rugby games, but Top Spin 4 was great and the Olympic games have always been fun as well (bummed we didn't get one this year, other than the kiddy Nintendo game)
# 19 brent3419 @ 07/03/14 04:07 AM
another arena football that doesnt play like blitz
# 20 tracy8848 @ 07/03/14 04:34 AM
I am looking for a action game.

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