Sports have been an ever-present in video gaming since the very beginning and continue to be hugely popular with gamers of all ages around the world. Some sports game franchises come and go, but only a few have stood the test of time and become major, long-lasting franchises. Here are five of the best.
NBA 2K (Basketball)
Ever since the launch of the first NBA 2K at the end of 1999, this video game franchise has emerged as the dominant force of basketball video games.
Combining superb presentation and epic gameplay has ensured the 2K series has blown away all competitors while remaining at the cutting edge of video game technology to deliver the most realist features and graphics.
The My Career feature allows gamers to climb the ranks to NBA superstardom, while the My Team mode sees players collect NBA 2K fantasy cards as they build their ultimate dream team. Additional features for NBA 2k20 including Legendary Teams, My League, My GM, and for the first time the complete roster for the WNBA.
The NBA 2K franchise also moved up another level when it became involved in esports and online gaming, allow players from all around the world to test their skills against others.
Madden NFL (Football)
One of the most enduring sports video game franchises in existence, Madden NFL (formerly John Madden Football) has been going strong since 1988 when it was originally played on the Commodore!
As well as the best gameplay available, Madden’s appeal for football fans has also been in the game’s sophisticated playbooks and in-depth player statistics.
Among the game’s most popular features include QB1 – Madden’s career mode where a gamer takes a college quarterback and attempts to take him all the way to the Super Bowl 2020 glory – Superstar X-Factor, and Madden Ultimate Team Missions.
The Madden Championship Series is this game’s foray into esports and sees the best Madden players in the world battle over major prizes and prestige.
A mainstay of sports video games, the Madden franchise is going nowhere.
MLB: The Show (Baseball)
Formerly simply titled MLB from its initial launch in 1997 until 2005, MLB: The Show is by far the standout baseball video game. Forever a PlayStation exclusive, the 2020 version will be the first edition that will also be released on other consoles (although it will be available a month or two after the PlayStation’s March release).
Sony and developers SIE San Diego Studio have always been committed to ensuring MLB: The Show is the most realistic baseball game on the market and the 2019 version was once again evidence of their refusal to rest on their laurels.
The career mode, Road to the Show, is one of the most addictive career modes in sports video games, while the March to October mode offers gamers the chance to fast-track a regular and playoff season.
In comparison to Madden and NBA 2K, MLB: The Show is lagging behind in the exports space, but that takes nothing away from the actual game itself.
Football Manager (Soccer)
To the uninitiated, staring at stats, clicking a few buttons and arranging tactics while not actually controlling the players may seem like the height of boredom. But for Football Manager fans and its predecessor Championship Manager, this game series is a mix of obsession and religion.
Soccer fans the world over believe they can do a better job than the manager of the team they support, and Football Manager is their chance to prove it. Using sophisticated algorithms and complex simulation technologies, FM provides the real-life experience of what it is like to be a soccer manager.
From deciding tactics, controlling transfers, and ensuring the welfare and happiness of the squad, to deciding training sessions and speaking to the media, every decision a manager makes will affect their chances of success.
To demonstrate the game’s immense growth in popularity, FM20 is the fastest-selling version of the franchise’s history.
When discussing the best sports video game franchises, no list would be complete without the FIFA series. As the most popular sport on earth, it is little surprise to see a soccer video game be one of the most popular franchises.
There have been competitors over the years, most notably Pro Evolution Soccer on the PlayStation 1 and 2, but FIFA has been revamped in recent years and seen off all competitors.
The advanced gameplay of FIFA games, including greater player control in the attack, defense, and transition, has made FIFA one of the most realistic sports games around.
As well as regular career and season modes, FIFA’s Ultimate Team mode from recent editions of the game have created a sub-culture among soccer gamers. FIFA is also one of the most popular esports games in the world, with top clubs including Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea boasting their own esports teams