The Year in Sports Video GamesWhat's up, buttheads. It's me, Biff. Look, I know my sports betting advice this year didn't play out so well. Sorry if you bet your adjustable-rate mortgage balloon payment on one of my lead pipe locks. How was I to know I had a printer's error? Really, that stuff was the Gray's Sports Almanac from 2014. So just bet my advice in two years at triple the amount, you'll win back everything you lost and still make a fortune.


Anyway, even if I did give you the other half of the almanac, the notable events of 2012, what sports book was gonna give you odds that NBA Live 13 wouldn't release? That MLB 2K12 would be the last baseball game on the Xbox 360? OK, alright, those were probably even-money propositions. Still, here's the rest of what I should have told you would happen in 2012.


The Year in Sports Video Games

Like the Rest of Us, Madden Submits a Bracket—and Prays It Gets a Winner

The dominoes that fell in Peyton Manning's release, free agency, and his signing on Tuesday with the Broncos tumbled all the way to the cover of the NFL's signature video game. More »


The Year in Sports Video Games

Mr. Yamauchi, Please Go See the Mariners Play. You Own the Team, After All

The man who made Nintendo into a video gaming giant is warmly regarded in Seattle. But Hiroshi Yamauchi has never seen his team play. There are rumors, going back as far as 1992, that he doesn't even like baseball. Seattle and the Oakland Athletics opened the Major League Baseball season on March 28 and 29 in Tokyo. It was the last chance for Yamauchi to see the team he "has always viewed ... as a thank you to Seattle for being so welcoming to Nintendo of America." More »


The Year in Sports Video Games

In One of the Greatest Comebacks in Sports History, Fans Fund "The Tecmo Bowl MMO"

Two days ago, the "Tecmo Bowl MMO" was left for dead, less than halfway to its funding goal on Kickstarter. After a last-minute comeback that conjures images of the Music City Miracle, the Ghost to the Post, and the Bills sundering the Oilers in 1993, Gridiron Heroes met its funding target. Sport's most emotional moments are often the ones manifested as allegories of real life victories. That makes it precious, indeed, when the beauty of real life echoes the triumph of sport. More »


The Year in Sports Video Games

A Very Moving Day for a Woman at The Masters

After two rounds at The Masters, the 44 best scores and ties, plus anyone within 10 strokes of the leader, make the cut. Since 2006, when the course was lengthened, no American amateur has survived to "Moving Day," the nickname for Saturday's round. Yesterday, I did so. As a woman. More »


The Year in Sports Video Games

The Agonizing Death of the Greatest Perfect Game Never Pitched

T.J. Brida usually shows up 15 minutes ahead of his shift. This day, he was thinking he'd be late. He pulled on his work shirt, ran out the front door, got in his car and lit a cigarette, cursing and smacking the steering wheel all the way.

T.J. Brida had just thrown 13 1/3 innings of perfect baseball. And then he gave up a hit. More »


The Year in Sports Video Games

The True Story Behind Scott Ratchman, the Little Bastard of Tiger Woods PGA Tour

Every main character needs a good nemesis. Seinfeld has Newman. McBain has Mendoza. And Tiger Woods has Scott Ratchman, who represents all the older kids Tiger defeated in his youth career.

More »


The Year in Sports Video Games

Better Know an Umpire: Wally Hughes of MLB 12 The Show

Welcome to Better Know An Umpire, an effort to educate ourselves on the human elements—deliberately programmed into a computer simulation—who have ultimate decision-making power over millions of games played in MLB 12 The Show on the PlayStation 3.More »


The Year in Sports Video Games

Eight Men In: Cheating Tarnishes Everyone in 2K Sports' Million-Dollar Scandal

It's appalling that anyone would think that rigging the opposing lineup is acceptable in a million-dollar contest predicated on throwing a perfect game. What is truly outrageous is that the contest's administrators at 2K Sports saw nothing wrong with it either.More »


The Year in Sports Video Games

Sorry, South Alabama, You're Not in the Game

The University of South Alabama is none too pleased they won't be appearing in NCAA Football 13 when the game releases in July. This season will be USA's debut year in Division I-A Football Bowl Subdivision play, and while they're ineligible for postseason bowls, three other schools making their Division I-A FBS debut—Massachusetts, Texas-San Antonio and Texas State—will be included. More »


The Year in Sports Video Games

A Heisman Winner Gets His Close-Up—but Without the Right Music

As a private-school doormat for decades to two big-boy conferences, until last year most people couldn't name one guy on the Baylor football roster. Even if Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy in 2011, it didn't make the school's fight song any more recognizable last week. Maybe that's why so few noticed that when NCAA Football 13 released—with Griffin himself on the cover—the Bears didn't take the field to "Old Fite.". More »


The Year in Sports Video Games

THQ Sold Out to EA Sports Because It Didn't Break Even on UFC 3

It should be no surprise that THQ jettisoned its expensive exclusive license to make video games with the UFC's imagery and fighters. The company is hurting badly and had gone through a huge, soul-searching reorganization, jettisoning its kids-stuff division and completely bailing on E3 this year. In a surprise announcement, EA Sports revealed it had bought the UFC license from THQ. More »


The Year in Sports Video Games

A Meaningless Settlement Keeps a Clipboard Quarterback in the Game

Twenty-seven million dollars is a lot of money. But it's not significant. Not in the case of the Madden monopoly lawsuit. In fact, I'm struck by how meaningless all of the terms are in its settlement. More »


The Year in Sports Video Games

Michael Jordan and the Dream Team Meet the 2012 Gold Medalists in NBA 2K13

When Kobe Bryant hypothesized that the 2012 U.S. Men's Basketball Team would beat the 1992 squad—the original Dream Team—Michael Jordan just laughed. Charles Barkley said only three players from the current team could have cracked their roster.

Video gamers can settle it for themselves this October when both squads, in their United States Olympic uniforms, appear in NBA 2K13. And yes, that means Barkley is at long last returning to a video game.More »


The Year in Sports Video Games

If Not This Year, Women's Soccer Will Be In Video Games Soon, Says FIFA Producer

It's inevitable that women will appear as playable athletes in a football title, the executive producer of the FIFA video game series told a petition organizer. But it's far too late for that to happen in FIFA 13, and he couldn't commit to any future year in which it might for his series.

Still, whatever is done needs to be done right, David Rutter told Fernanda Schabarum, a 29-year-old gamer living in South Florida. It can't be a token tack-on feature, and certainly not a downloadable game or extension that sends a message that women play a second-class sport. More »


The Year in Sports Video Games

EA Sports Brings Women's Hockey Stars Into the Game—Without a League of Their Own

EA Sports, though it is inviting women who are hockey fans to its product, has also invited a different problem this year by signing up the Canadian women's star Hayley Wickenheiser, and United States national team standout Angela Ruggiero. Both will appear in the "Legends" mode of NHL 13, which is due out Sept. 11 in North America. "Be a Legend" puts an all-time great from a past era on the ice in present time. Ruggiero and Wickenheiser, both gold medalist Olympians, have well earned a roster spot. But these are the first two real-life female athletes to appear in a video game simulation of an all-male professional team sport. And so their inclusion raises the uncomfortable question of how to rate their skill relative to a universe of male performers. More »


The Year in Sports Video Games

Madden's Master of Fake Twitter Must Tell a Story Deeper Than 140 Characters

I knew what was coming after I lost to Green Bay, 24-17, in Week 11 of my first season in Madden NFL 13. It was the same kind of thing that came in Week 2 after a gutwrenching 24-20 loss at home to San Francisco, in which I was cited for the lack of a "clutch gene."

It was ESPN's Skip Bayless, a media personality I actively avoid, someone put on my TV screen by my Xbox 360 to bray about my defense's inability to tackle opposing runners. Never mind that I was controlling just one player, a running back. Win as a team, lose as a team, get ripped by Skip as a team. If it's in the game, it's in the game.

"Hah-hah, there's Skip!" said my opponent, still connected by chat.

"Fuck you, Skip!" I growled.More »


Season or No Season, NHL 13's 'Hercules Check' is Hockey's Greatest Hit Ever

This is a glitch video to end all glitch videos, and not just because that's a player getting checked over the glass and into the fourth row of a hockey arena. It's also Sidney Freaking Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins superstar who has lost, like, an entire season's worth of games due to concussions, going back to early 2011. More »


The Year in Sports Video Games

A Silent Service Delivers the Sound of Saturday to NCAA Football

Never pass up the opportunity to sit," Ben Haumiller (above) told me, as we slumped back on Virginia's vacated sideline bench at Wallace Wade Stadium, the Cavaliers in the locker room leading Duke 17-14 at the half this past Saturday. Pondering the long walk to the free concessions in the press box, I half considered sticking my mouth under the spout of the UVa water cooler. All we had been doing for the past four hours was standing on the sidelines and keeping quiet. But you really have no idea how draining that kind of work can be, especially in the early autumn sunshine at a Southern football stadium.

Ben's face already betrayed the onset of a sunburn, and though I had worn a cap, my neck and cheeks were sure to peel in the next two days. My feet throbbed and by Monday I'd be walking with a limp, thanks to a poor choice of shoes.

To explain what the hell we were doing, you have to go back to the roof of a parking deck in Florida about nine years ago. More »


The Year in Sports Video Games

EA Sports Cancels NBA Live 13

EA Sports, on Sept. 27, canceled its troubled NBA Live 13 project. It is the second time in three years that sports video gaming's dominant publisher has pulled the plug on its NBA simulation at the last minute.
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The Year in Sports Video Games

If It Hasn't Already, EA Sports Should Get Out of the NBA

EA Sports should junk its NBA simulation. Just get out of it and this license altogether. There is no upside to kicking the NBA Live can another year down the road, for either management or labor. Two straight efforts at publishing an NBA simulation have failed, which didn't even happen in the days when games were sold on cartridges. It only gets worse from here. More »


The Year in Sports Video Games

Real Names in Games Mean More Money for the NCAA, Executive Argued

Five years ago, an NCAA executive said EA Sports should be allowed to use actual names of its amateur athletes—commanding a higher licensing fee as a result—because players' likenesses were "rigged into the games now by illegal means." Permitting their use would clear up the matter and bring more money to the NCAA, he said. The comments came to light in documents exposed by a lawsuit 15 former college players have brought against the NCAA and EA Sports.More »


The Year in Sports Video Games

Ex-Developer's Rant Reveals Why Madden is a Dream Job, and Disillusioning

Nothing deleted from Twitter is ever deleted on time, and sometime between Monday and Tuesday, a disillusioned former Madden developer figured that out. By then, his unvarnished rant tossed a dripping slab of red meat to Madden's many Internet enemies, and it didn't win the author much support from his old friends. More »