Sports games continue to be some of the best-selling titles on consoles, PCs and mobile devices. Legions of fans eagerly anticipate each new instalment of their favourite sports gaming franchise to see what new features will be added and what improvements have been made on the year before.
In April 2021, the most streamed sports game on the popular Twitch platform was EA Sports latest football offering, FIFA 21 with over 32 million streams in total taking place. We take a look at five candidates for this year’s most popular sports game.
Madden NFL 22
American football continues to gain fans far beyond the borders of its native country. Super Bowl LVI was watched by over 100 million people worldwide with 10 million tuning in online to stream the action live.
The Madden gaming franchise, named after well-loved coach and commentator John Madden, is the most honest reproduction of the sport available, with players able to choose offensive and defensive options from a seemingly endless playbook. In Madden NFL 22, you take full control of an entire franchise, including coaching staff, weekly strategies and an enhanced franchise hub.
1st Down Slot
Riding on the coattails of the popularity of American Football and the NFL comes a fantastic offering in the world of online slot games from Inspired Software. 1st Down Slot is a five-reel style casino slot game with 30 paylines—that’s 30 chances to win to the uninitiated.
More of us than ever are recognising the accessibility and fun of classic casino games and 1st Down does a good job of creating an immersive football experience for fans of the sport. Players can pick from one of eight fictional teams and help them on their way to victory while winning money along the way.
Variety comes in the form of wild symbols, an interactive bonus game and live video footage from your virtual tie. The game has been optimised to run on mobile devices so you’re able to take the fun on the road and enjoy wherever you are.
FIFA’s status as a video game behemoth has already been mentioned and with its main competitor Pro Evolution Soccer (eFootball) essentially declaring itself out of the picture, it’s got even more room to play with. The king of live football simulations returned at the end of last year with FIFA 22 which now comes with Hypermotion Technology—using data collected from a full length, motion captured 11 vs 11 match—and an optimised career mode.
FIFA also continues to make its mark as a legitimate eSports contender with the codified Club and Nation leagues culminating in the World and Continental cups. The prize pool for the 2021 world cup which took place in London in August of last year totalled $500,000.
Away from the mainstream is a fast-paced action arcade style flying disc game from Dotemu. Windjammers 2 builds on the success of the first in the series, adding new playable characters, stages and dynamics while staying true to the retro art style that originally defined it.
In a one-on-one concept that could be described as volleyball with a frisbee, Windjammers 2 is an easy game to learn but a difficult one to master with parallels being drawn between itself and the Super Smash Bros. titles. Windjammers was originally released for the NEOGEO arcade system in the early nineties.
Ring sports have a rich history in video games with the cult classic Punch Out dating back to 1984. Visual Concepts continues to fly the flag with the soon to be released WWE 2K22.
All your favourite male and female stars from the WWE realm are included, from Brock Lesnar to Sasha Banks and Roman Reigns, and players can build and manage their own faction, taking them to the top of the WWE rankings. The ever-popular character building options are not left behind—an all new creation suite lets you build your very own superstar (possibly in your own image) and deliver that crowd wowing move from the top rope.
Gran Turismo 7
Racing enthusiasts have been waiting for the release of the next in the Gran Turismo series since it was announced in June 2020. Developers Polyphony Digital are endeavouring not to disappoint die-hard fans of the genre by including an unprecedented number of officially licensed cars and features including the Mazda RX-VISION GT3 Concept that is featured on the game’s cover art.
The release date is pencilled in for March 2022 with pre-orders already on sale for the Playstation 4 and 5. Advanced functionality is promised to take advantage of the increased power of the ninth generation Playstation 5—adaptive haptic feedback, ray-tracing effects and 3D spatial audio.
Sports fans certainly have plenty to look forward to this year with many big developers attempting to rise to the top of the genre’s charts. Powerful new technology has allowed for the gameplay of these titles to edge ever closer to being indistinguishable from the real thing.