I Feel Sorry For Sports Games During E3

Illustration for article titled I Feel Sorry For Sports Games During E3

The kind of person reading this website probably thinks E3 is for you, the F5ing obsessive keen for Cyberpunk and The Last Of Us Part II, but for millions of fans around the world it’s about little more than the first good look at the only game they’ll be playing seriously for the next 12 months.

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So while it’s common for the hardcore narrative around E3 to deride sports games’ presence (above is a typical example), or even to just plain ignore them altogether, the fact remains these games are super important and sell millions of copies every year.

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As someone who plays and enjoys a load of these series, it’s easy amidst the big blockbusters for sports games to pass you by at E3, which is why I’ve enjoyed circling back around tonight and checking out what I missed while covering games like Anthem, Spider-Man and Halo.

First up is FIFA 19's E3 trailer, which showcases the series’ new Champions League branding and which may prove to be a death sentence for Konami’s fledgling competitor, PES.

Next is Madden 19, with a seemingly pointless clip that does nothing but remind us that, like death and taxes, Madden is coming to 2018. A lot of new info was revealed in a blog post in the week before E3; it would have been nice to see some of that actually spelled out here.

Then again, given sports gaming’s reputation at the show, maybe EA are just saving all that for a day away from E3's spotlights.

Another sports game with an E3 trailer is FIFA’s competitor PES. I admire the way it’s made almost entirely from actual gameplay footage, but advertising the fact you’ve got the license for the Scottish Premiership and Eredivisie only serves to highlight the fact you don’t have the license for the Premier League or Bundesliga.

Back to EA now, with NBA Live 19's trailer. With NBA 2K’s various missteps last year, I’m actually looking forward to seeing what EA can do here; their on-court offering may not be a match for their more popular competitor, but if they can simply offer a less bullshitty product than 2K19—especially whe it comes to the singleplayer campaignit might be worth a look.

And finally, we have Hyper Sports R, shown for the first time by Konami. It’s probably more of a party game than a sports title, but it’s literally got SPORTS in the title, so I figured I’d better include it here:

It’s OK, sports games. E3 may not be the best place for you, but you came, you showed some stuff, and those of us who were looking forward to it got something out of it.

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But sometimes I wonder whether the genre—or at least a giant like EA Sports—might be better served carving out its own space, away from the guns and spaceships and zombies and cartoon characters.

Luke Plunkett is a Senior Editor based in Canberra, Australia. He has written a book on cosplay, designed a game about airplanes, and also runs cosplay.kotaku.com.

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DISCUSSION

belichickwilforkyourmom
Belichick Wilfork Your Mom

I took my buddy to E3 in ‘11 or ‘12 and while he wanted to see the big AAA games, he wanted to play NCAA Football the most.

Don’t normally wait in lines, but I didn’t know anyone at the booth, so we waited an hour+ to check out the game... We get to the private back room (for a sports title?!) and we get a 1-on-1 (2) with one of the programmers and he’s going on and on about the improved AI, especially on defense etc etc...

My buddy (I don’t know if I’ve ever been more proud of him in a video game setting) had already cranked the difficulty up to its highest, and is ripping the computer apart. While the guy is explaining the improvements in AI, my friend is up 28-0 in the first quarter and says “Okay bud,” (he calls people “bud” if he doesn’t think he needs to remember their name) “You’re saying that, but if I run this play again, and audible the same thing every time, I’m hitting my guy 30 yards down field every time and the safeties are nowhere to be found... Watch” as he calls the play and nails another completion and touchdown.

“Me and another buddy play this game every year - it’s our way to hang out because he lives 10 hours away.... But if this is all you’ve got for me, I think we’re going to skip it this year - like, this is a joke, watch” and he proceeds to stop their offense and score at will over and over again....

I’ve never seen an e3 spokesperson, let alone programmer, look so embarrassed. It was great.