With the inherently competitive nature and naturally occuring division of fans into their respective teams, we thought it would be fun to cover one of the most popular video game genres globally — sports! Sports games generally come in two flavours: games where the player is actually participating in the sport, and more strategy-based games where the player is taking on the role of a manager. No matter your level of skill or affinity for playing sports in real life, odds are that you have turned on one of the numerous sports titles between Wii Sports and FIFA. In this article we will cover what sports games are, why they are so popular, and where these games fit into a play-and-earn framework.
The history of sports video games dates all the way back to the 1950s. The first sports video game — Tennis for Two — was actually played on an oscilloscope, and although incredibly simple, would demonstrate how such games could be played on a computer. Fast forward to the 1970s and we would see the release of Table Tennis, a video game released for the Magnavox Odyssey. This would eventually lay the groundwork for the first commercially successful video game (let alone sports video game) Pong, released by Atari in 1972. The sports genre would experience a proverbial Pong boom and bust cycle, and sports video games would not rise to popularity again until the 1980s, coinciding with the release of titles such as Konami’s Track and Field and Nintendo’s Excitebike. Entering the modern day, sports video games have moved away from the arcade and into the home coincident with the release of dedicated video game consoles. The console, which we have discussed here previously, greatly increased the accessibility of this genre — along with the player base — and nowadays there is a sports video game for conceivably every sport, many with multiple choices to choose from.
Undoubtedly the most popular sub-category within the sports genre is the simulation-based sports games. These games feature gameplay that is exactly what you might expect given the name: simulation of the sport, with a focus on realism and adherence to the rules that govern each sport. This differs greatly from arcade-style sports games, where the objective is usually just to score a high score and the focus is more on fun or competition, more so than on realism. Some popular titles from this sub-category include NBA 2K, Madden NFL and, of course, FIFA. These types of games benefit greatly from partnerships with professional leagues, where players have the opportunity to play as their favourite player or team, and publishers can benefit from the exclusivity of the IP featured in their game.
Another popular sub-category within the sports genre is the management sports game. Management sports games pit the player as the manager of a sports team, with the objective being to build the strongest team that can win against either human or AI players. Management sports games will often take players through an entire season or tournament of play and are most typically associated with team sports rather than individual ones, although this is not a requirement. Notably, some simulation sports games also feature management modes. Some popular titles in this sub-category include Football Manager, NFL Head Coach, and F1 Manager.
Whether it’s the newest Nintendo Switch Sports or NBA 2K23, sports games continually attract fans of all different demographics and are subsequently one of the most popular (and profitable) in the industry. This makes them a natural choice for web3 and play-and-earn, which serve an inherently global audience. One such example is the up and coming title Olympic Games Jam, a mobile play-and-earn sports game that features real-time minigame competitions with up to 20 players.
The future is bright and stands only to improve for play-and-earn sports games. GamiFi will be here covering it, as we continue to GamiFi Everything!