There have been 27 FIFA games. 2-7. Sure, you could get all cynical and say there’s only been five or so different FIFA games, but let’s not get facetious. Now, did we really need every one of those 27? Couldn’t we have lost a ‘Road to World Cup 98’, say, and given another sport a chance? An EA Sports Kabaddi?
And what about other publishers? A 2K sumo game? A Rockstar ping pong game (oh, wait)…
Let’s assume it’s that easy, and the small matter of actually selling units isn’t important. What are the sports that positively deserve the video game treatment, and would actually be, you know, fun? Through meticulous trawling of Wikipedia and swapping notes amongst ourselves, here are the 10.
Games companies, are you listening? Stick an Ultimate Team on these and you’re minted.
In the style of… Fall Guys
Forget football, hockey, cricket, baseball: the purest sport is British Bulldog. Until you’ve sold a feint and made it to the other end of a playground, leaving your opponent’s knee bloodied behind you, then you haven’t experienced true joy. Then there’s Stuck in the Mud, Tag, Kiss Chase… I could go on.
Now imagine all of them with the manic bustle of Fall Guys. I want to play British Bulldog as a 100 vs 1 Battle Royale, so take my money, dammit.
In the style of… MudRunner
Peak sport is about watching someone superhuman doing things that you could never hope to do. We’ve all dreamed of being Messi, Federer, Hamilton, Akabusi. The wonder of gaming is that you get to feel a smidgeon like those people, at least for a bit.
Now, imagine getting to be the peak of the peak, the people who are testing the edges of what’s possible. I want to feel what it’s like to be in the cockpit of a land-speed record-chasing vehicle, but without the risk that goes with it. Then I want to know what it’s like to optimise the car and get incremental gains. Call me a geek (geek), but that just sounds cool.
In the style of… Microsoft Flight Simulator
It seems we’ve reached ‘the future’ now, and we’re capable of producing games that map the entirety of the world. For a lot of games, the sky is now our oyster, and we can achieve some fantastic things. For sports, I can’t help but imagine a free-climbing experience.
Want to climb, hand over hand, all of the peaks of the Andes? Sure, slap on some talc and go for it. Want to climb the mountains on Mars? I mean, if that’s your kink then it’s all yours. Take a pause halfway and enjoy the view as you climb them all. Now we’ve just got to persuade Microsoft to make their tech available to all.
Football Squash / Keepy Uppy / Headers and Volleys
In the style of… FIFA loading screens
Have you grown tired of the FIFA loading screens? I have. I don’t want to do another one-on-one, free kick or penalty in a risk-free sandbox ever again. I want something more, a bit more fun and frivolous.
EA, are you listening? I want to find out whether Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have mega-skills in some football squash (wall football, or whatever you called it in your neck of the woods). I want people to be revaluing players on Ultimate Team based on their keepy-uppy stats. I want to play a game of headers and volleys with someone halfway across the world, and share some love at waist-or-higher height.
In the style of… SUPERHOT
Sure, sure, we have had dodgeball games before. But they’re mostly frivolous indie games that were made for a light chuckle on couch-coop. I want to take Dodgeball deathly seriously, as seriously as Patches O’Houlihan. I want time-slowing, intricate dodging mechanics, and a first-person or over-the-shoulder perspective. I want to feel like Dodgeball is a life-or-death thing.
There’s an argument for a Counterstrike-style deathmatch, or an Unreal Tournament over-the-top group experience, but I think I want SUPERHOT. Grab balls from the air, twist round and welly it at an opponents’ face.
Super, and indeed, hot.
In the style of… Hydro Thunder
Sometimes, a game doesn’t need to exist because it’s new or hasn’t been done before. Sometimes, a game needs to exist because the last one was flipping great and we have – inexplicably – not had one since. So it is with Hydro Thunder.
All of the graphical and mechanical progress we’ve made with Forza and Gran Turismo, among others? Yeah, we want that for Hydro Thunder. Don’t worry about any additional gimmicks: we don’t need any photo modes, battle passes, adaptive AI or crash modes (okay, maybe a crash mode). Just unadulterated Thunder (or Wave Race, if you must).
In the style of… Olympics games
Come on you cowards, make a Paralympics game. And let’s not treat it as a second-rate experience, as a DLC for an Olympics game or whatnot. I want to play Goalball, Boccia, Wheelchair Rugby and more. These games are brutal and brilliant, and online-multiplayer would suit them to a tee.
Now think about what that would mean to potential paralympians. We’ve got the Xbox Adaptive Controller, thank you very much – now let’s take a step in this direction.
In the style of… 1080 Snowboarding
Some sports are bonkers and life-threatening, which makes them ideal candidates for being played in a cosy gamer chair with a Mountain Dew. Most of us don’t want to die, per se, we just want to get a sense of what it’d be like to thrill-seek.
And so it is with street luge, a tarmac-take on the popular winter sport. It’s what you’d expect really – someone lies on their back and hurtles down a street on a tiny shopping trolley. But what happens when you dial down the realism and make the game a downward rollercoaster through some recognisable locations? You get a hell of a VR game at the very least, and an urban 1080 at the very most.
In the style of… Power Stone
The most popular sports get the most games, and that just feels obvious and unfair. Where are the games for the little men, the underdogs?
Sepak Takraw is one of those games that need a swift trip to YouTube to fully comprehend. It’s volleyball but with legs, heads and torsos instead of arms. It’s one of those sports that must have an impossibly steep initial difficulty curve, where watching noobs would probably be as fun as watching full-timers.
Now, apply the special moves and frenzied button-bashing of Power Stone, an arena brawler, to an all-body volleyball like Sepak Takraw. What do you get? A good time, probably.
The Hunger Games
In the style of… Tomb Raider
Okay, okay, it’s cheating. I had Quidditch here before deleting it, which would have been cheating too, but hear me out. Fantasy sports can be just as valid.
Fortnite, PUBG et al have taken the spirit of the Hunger Games and Battle Royale (the film), but have lost a lot of the mood, and there’s room for a game that recaptures it. There’s the small ethical obstacle of killing children, but let’s not let it stop us.
The Hunger Games was less about the killing and more about the surviving. That meant using the environment, crafting materials, forming temporary alliances and laying traps. The environment would fight back, with periodic events, and there was the opening, of course, where it would be a free-for-all in an open clearing.
For a young adult series these films were all game-savvy and actually – hazard to say it – cool. So let’s give it an overhaul in the Tomb Raider engine and make it into a battler of sorts. It will be good to see the Battle Royale genre coming full circle back to the films/books that inspired it.
Honourable mentions go to Twenty-20 cricket (come back Brian Lara!), aerial sports (Pilotwings to the Xbox One please!) and Kabaddi (two forms of tag on one list would make it seem like a fetish).
To all the EA and 2K staff reading this article, you’re welcome. No need for a work offer or golden handshake, just do them justice and this sports fan will be golden. A few Daily Reward packs of EA Street Luge players wouldn’t go amiss, though.