There is a myriad of gaming genres available with varying levels of popularity. Adrenaline-seeking gamers can grab racing games or action games, music-loving gamers have plenty of rhythm games to choose from, and gamers with wanderlust can indulge in various adventure games. Some games appeal to introverts and are best played alone, while other games are a much more social experience that bring gamers from around the world together.
Although many people find the concept of video games about sports to be strange, they continue to dominate the sales charts, and 2021 is no different. Last year, PlayStation’s top 20 most downloaded games chart was filled with various sports games, as is the case every year. With the global pandemic forcing many people to remain indoors and disrupting many sporting tournaments, some people have turned to video games to get their sporting fix.
The Numbers Don't Lie
On the PS5, sports games dominate in the USA and Canada. NBA 2K22 takes the top spot, and Madden NFL 22 takes fourth place. MLB The Show 21 appears in eighth place, FIFA 22 shows up in twelfth place, NBA 2k21 takes fifteenth place, and FIFA 21 slides into seventeenth place. That means sports games take up 30% of the top 20 chart. The European chart is similarly crowded with sports games, although instead of NBA 2K22 taking the top spot, FIFA 22 does. Other sports games that appear on the list include FIFA 21, F1 2021, and NBA 2K22.
The PS4 charts paint a similar story. In the USA and Canada, a sports game does not take the top spot (that honor goes to Grand Theft Auto 5). However, plenty of sports games still appear. NBA 2K22 is the fourth most downloaded PS4 game of 2021, and Madden NFL 22 is the sixth most downloaded game. NBA 2K21 appears at seventh place, MLB The Show 21 takes ninth place, FIFA 22 takes thirteenth place, and UFC 4 is at sixteenth place. The European chart is also flooded with sports games, and FIFA 22 is in the number one spot. FIFA 21, NBA 2K21, and eFootball PES 2021 also make an appearance.
The success of these sports games should not be looked down upon, as they go up against highly popular games such as Minecraft, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Call of Duty: Vanguard, Resident Evil Village, and more. This suggests that players buy sports games in droves, and while some may not understand the appeal of the genre, there are plenty more who do.
The Future of Sports Games
Although sports games are enjoying a fruitful present, not all their futures look equally bright. The FIFA series developed by EA is popular in part thanks to its use of the FIFA brand. However, in 2021, the football association FIFA asked for $1 billion for every four years the license is used. In response, EA released a public statement outlining the fact that the company is “exploring the idea of renaming our global EA SPORTS football games.” Although the license has been extended until the end of 2022, there is no telling how long the partnership will continue.
eFootball PES has been rebranded as eFootball and is now a free-to-play game. Unfortunately, the first game from the series, eFootball 2022, was universally panned by critics and gamers alike. Most of the criticisms were geared towards the games’ poor graphics and numerous glitches. Only time will tell whether Konami will be able to rehabilitate the reputation of the series.
An old name might make a return and share the charts with the aforementioned sports games soon, as EA has stated that it intends to make college football games again. EA had previously owned the NCAA Football series, but it was put to a halt with NCAA Football 14 when the NCAA and EA were taken to court over the unpaid use of player likenesses. According to EA, its new college football games will contain a wealth of content including "more than 100 institutions featuring the logos, stadiums, uniforms, game-day traditions and more."
PlayStation's 2021 download charts reveal that sports are just as popular in the gaming world as they are in the real world. The games allow anyone, no matter their physique, to imagine for a brief moment that they are a world-class sports star performing flawlessly, and that can be addictive. Although sporting games have their fair share of issues to wade through, it seems like their appeal is not going to fade any time soon.
A professional NBA 2K esports player is banned from the NBA 2K League for his connection to NBA 2K gambling, the league confirms.