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Since the sports game market has such a bright future and will remain stable for many years to come, why are there so few sports games that can stand out in some markets like China, especially mobile game markets?

Yongcheng Liu, Blogger

August 29, 2023

6 Min Read

Sports games have always been an important category in the global gaming market, and can be said to be a game type that has spanned a considerable period of history in the field of video games. Regardless of how hardware environments and market trends change, this type of game theme never goes out of style. FIFA, NBA 2K, Pro Evolution Soccer, and so on, these well-known sports games that are beloved by many gamers, fully demonstrate the value of sports games.

For players, sports games can be seen as a casual game that they can occasionally play for a match, or as a game where they can develop their favorite teams and players. Sports games also have the passion and excitement of fair competition that other games don't have. In many countries, the potential of the sports game market has already been fully realized, but in some other markets, the situation does not seem optimistic. Since the sports game market has such a bright future and will remain stable for many years to come, why are there so few sports games that can stand out in some markets like China, especially mobile game markets?

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  1. What is seen is not what is thought: big market, few good games.

The direction of the user's attention determines the tendency of some developers and publishers to choose game themes. The global audience of large-scale sports events undoubtedly focuses on football, while the NBA, as one of the most popular sports league, also has a large number of viewers. Football and basketball games are also the two most numerous types of sports games in the global game markets. Unlike other forms of entertainment, sports are more likely to arouse people's passions and even emotional feelings.

However, compared with other game categories in China, there have been relatively few sports games on the market. This is related to the characteristics of sports games themselves. Sports games such as FIFA, NBA2K, and NBA LIVE have very distinct labels: professional.

This is mainly reflected in two aspects: on the one hand, most of the fans of sports games are themselves fans of this sport, and non-fans rarely participate; on the other hand, the high threshold of research and development of sports games, such as physical collision, feeling of control, engine, player AI, etc., also greatly increases the difficulty of research and development of this type of games.

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  1. An unclaimed large cake?

Why does such a large piece of cake have such an unsatisfactory performance?

Single gameplay, similar games.

As sports games are based on sports events, their basic gameplay revolves around PVP (player versus player) based on the specific sports. However, a single gameplay can lead to faster boredom, and PVP is not a permanent solution. Development teams often try to enrich the player experience by adding game modes, but the harsh reality is that most players still prefer the basic PVP mode.

Additionally, the emerging f similar games is also due to market competition. When one developer introduces a new mode, others will try to add it. As a result, products in the market are becoming more and more similar, making it difficult for the sports game market to reach its full potential.

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Restore the sport, and be loyal to the control.

For sports game players, whether they are basketball or football fans, or fans of other sports, most of them love to continue the feeling of sweating on their favorite sports field, or to experience controls that cannot be achieved in real life. Even if our bodies are already exhausted, we can still enjoy spiritual pleasure. Therefore, sports players do not have a wide range of game types to choose from like other players. They generally only play games based on their own sports hobbies. Even if there are new games available, they probably won't pay attention if they are not related to their favorite sports.

In addition, for sports games that focus on controls and competition, in order to replicate the feel of real-life competition through virtual games and find a sense of on-site confrontation, even though their control methods are simplified, the difficulty is still higher than that of other competitive games, and self-improvement is needed to complete the game process and get a higher sense of achievement to score. Due to the existence of a certain controlling threshold, many casual mobile game players naturally do not pay much attention to this type of game.

  1. What do players want?

What kind of game do players from a certain sport need?

Looking at people who love sports, they have many things in common - a love of exercise, attention to matches, outspoken personalities, and trust in teamwork. Therefore, to capture the hearts of sports game users, developers could potentially pay more attention to professional control needs, performance needs, personalization needs, socializaition needs, and some other aspects.

Many players like to play sports games because they want to replicate the feel of reality or experience some elements that cannot be achieved in actual sports. Therefore, reasonably transporting reality to the virtual world is always the pursuit of developers and players. In addition, some sports enthusiasts may not have been game players before. The low threshold for game accessibility, combined with technical and controlling depth, can play a key role in expanding the player base, especially for mobile game players. Of course, for some games that do not have specific IP, cool and gorgeous controls are always one of the biggest selling points to attract players.

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In today's era of increasingly advanced hardwares, games with high-quality audio and graphic performance often have richer expressiveness, and creating a sense of presence and immersion is also an important aspect for games to attract players. Especially for sports games, the feel of great performance of graphics and movements/controls is more important.

  1. Try a new track.

Faced with the dilemma of the sports game market, good game quality alone is not enough to break the situation. For a sports game, good game quality can attract fans of this series, but to seek breakthroughs, it is necessary to have more sports enthusiasts and even sports entertainment users to recognize, accept it and start to play it.

Operate with real sports events.

To expand player base and promote has become a problem that requires finding effective ways of brand exposure, creating momentum for the game before or during corresponding sports events, and attracting fans' attention. Using promotion methods that are synchronized with the sports event operating period and leveraging various platform resources, and not just limiting to the game platform would be effective. In this way, the influence of the game itself can be accepted by multi-platform users, and the favorability of the game among users on multiple platforms could potentially continue to increase.

Building an esports tournament system.

It helps expand and attract more fans into the game, and enhance player stickiness. For sports games, it is possible to try to build a complete sports game e-sports competition system based on the current common e-sports league, while expanding the participation channels for the public; combine with community operation experience and promote "small community" competitions and matches of the game, can make it easier for the public to participate in e-sports, and then introducing game competitions into offline communities.

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