Another Year, and I’m Still Buying EA Sports Games – Damn You Tiger Woods!
It’s that time of year again: The time when Electronic Arts begins releasing its yearly stable of sports games. Yeah, I know. Who cares, right? Every year I see at least one person write something about how EA will eventually tire of this schedule, or else how the gamers will eventually reject it. After at least a decade of this, it doesn’t seem likely that either of those outcomes are imminent.
However, many of us are making progress. It’s been two years since I bought a Madden game, ditto for NCAA Football. I don’t remember the last basketball title I purchased, and I’ve managed to avoid succumbing to the urge to pick up FIFA, NHL, or Fight Night titles as well.
Unfortunately, I still have one crippling weakness: Tiger Woods PGA Tour. Yes, I realize that golf isn’t the ‘hardcore’ gamer’s choice, but for some reason I just can’t stop myself. Case in point: I headed into GameStop yesterday to pick up my copy of Ghostbusters. While I was standing in line at the counter, I was overcome with the urge to grab Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10. I fought valiantly, but lo and behold, once I arrived at the front of the line, the first words out of my mouth were those.
What is driving me to do this?
In my defense, the past two versions of Tiger Woods have been great. Tiger Woods 08 had some fun online play, and 09 ramped that up with simultaneous online play, club tuning, and a greatly improved skill system. I hope this will at least begin to explain why I gave in so easily to the desire to give Tiger Woods 10 a go.
Once again, I’m not disappointed. The addition of the tournament challenge mode, which places you in the shoes of various professional golfers during memorable moments at past tournaments in really enjoyable, the new online tournaments are even more fun than last year, and this week, I get to compete in the US Open. Well, virtually, anyway.
I think that might be the answer here. Of all the EA Sports titles, Tiger Woods is the only one has consistently found ways to improve. Sure, they aren’t major gameplay changes, but they are changes that stand out when you’re actually playing the game.
Judging from what we’ve seen so far, there may be a case to be made for many EA Sports franchises this year. Madden 10 will include a complete overhaul of the animations and the AI, Fight Night Round 4 looked outstanding at E3, and there’s even a shiny new Grand Slam Tennis game that looks very interesting.
What I hope this means is that EA has come to the realization that it isn’t enough to simply slap new rosters and a fresh coat of paint onto an old title and pump it out. Instead, work to include meaningful features that make gamers want the games you’re making. As Tiger Woods 10 amply demonstrates, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every year, but you do need to include new features that give the game value.
Maybe, just maybe, when Tiger Woods checks his bank balance next month, he’ll see a 1 at the end instead of a zero, and he’ll think of me.
Have any of you found yourselves in this situation? Have you avoided the urge to purchase EA Sports games simply because there’s a new one every year, and do you think EA has gotten the message?