Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Video Games and Baseball: Part 1

I know that I have already touched on the subject of sports being implemented as video games, and yes, we all probably know by now how repetitive some of the more famous titles have become over time. I mean, let's get serious. Who really wants to put down money for a new Madden game every single year? Who really wants to buy MLB The Show every single year? The same goes for NBA and NHL games as well. When you buy one sports game in a 4-year period there's a good chance you'll just hang on to that game and play it for a little while until you feel like you have to update that virtual playing field.

When facing the task of making a new sports game that gamers will love and will want to come back to, you always have to think about this one thing. Creativity. Will your game dev team have it for a brand new baseball video game, for example? Will you guys be able to create enough unique elements for this new baseball game that will make gamers do a double take and say "Yeah! That was a refreshing experience!'

At the end of June we are at the heart of baseball season here in the United States, and yeah, not everyone across the world will be thrilled about baseball. As it is right now I have been watching the EURO 2016 Tournament for European soccer, so I understand depending where you live baseball might not interest you, but bear with me here. What makes a baseball video game obsolete? Why does a baseball video game lose its luster after a while? After a while you become so familiar with the rosters on every MLB team that you start remembering off the top of your head which player sits on the bench for the Arizona Diamondbacks, for example. I would assume that's part of the problem of maintaining interest in playing an MLB video game these days.

I just have to go back to my point about making a chess video game fun. Customization. If you don't have enough of it to keep gamers interested, then they will go away and play other video games that offer more customization options. It's really that simple, in my opinion.

What happened to the Create-A-Ballpark feature? What happened to the secret unlockable teams feature? What happened to playing in the old ballparks of yesteryear that are no longer with us? What happened to the feature of creating your own expansion team and realigning Major League Baseball as a whole? Where did all these possible ideas go? Development budgets and time have been cut. That's the short answer.

The long answer is that imagination isn't really being used all that much anymore. You want to make a baseball video game stand out and you want it to attract an audience that will stay loyal to it no matter how many new editions of MLB The Show are churned out. By making your own baseball game you make your own space in the gaming market. You make your own baseball game something that people will talk about long after it's made. I don't see many game development teams willing to do that anymore in the sports arena because either they feel like the "big boys" have already occupied the sports arena and there is no room to do anything special, or there is that fear of just becoming a "copycat" of what's already successful.

I'm sure that the Mario baseball games that have appeared on the Nintendo Gamecube, Wii and Wii U have given some devs some inspiration in the way that they view baseball. You can make baseball fun with some imagination. Nintendo and Mario have proven that. Create your own cartoon baseball league, fill it with slapstick comedy, make it family friendly, and there you go. You have a starting foundation there. Ask yourself this question. What makes baseball funny? Implement whatever baseball humor is into your new game and build it from that foundation. That's one of many ways you can get your game "over" in the Gaming Industry.

I think I will divide this into 2 parts because I want to go into more detail as to the kinds of ideas I have in mind for a custom baseball game. Stay tuned for that.

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