We’ve all heard of the big hitters of sports video games. In fact, we’ve probably played most of them as well.
Games like FIFA Football, Madden, NBA 2K, MLB The Show, and even WWE. They’re officially licensed games that let their players recreate the action they’ve seen on TV and put themselves in the shoes of their favourite sports stars.
The Demographic Reason for the Success of Certain Sports Games
These games hit a sweet spot between sports with large numbers of followers, and sports with demographics that enjoy playing video games. Sports outside of this sweet spot are likely to struggle in achieving similar levels of success.
For example, horse racing is the sport with the third highest average age of followers (63) in the United States. In contrast, the average age of a video game player is 31. Therefore, the segment of the market that a horse racing game will appeal to is smaller than other sports.
The sports with the lowest average age of viewers, the NBA, NHL, NFL, and soccer all have strong video game titles. There are some exceptions. The PGA Tour title by EA Sports was successful during the 2000s, but there hasn’t been another title released since 2015.
This doesn’t stop some publishers trying to make video games from other sports though. Here are some of those lesser known video titles.
Horse racing has the ingredients to make a good video game. It has racing (there are many popular racing games), it has a lot of history, it is a wealthy sport, and horse races are often very exciting.
However, few horse racing games have sold well. This didn’t stop Tecmo Koei from having a go at making one, which was released on the PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360 in 2011.
Champion Jockey: G1 Jockey & Gallop Racer features several real life racecourses including Churchill Downs, Epsom Downs, and Cheltenham. This means that players can recreate the excitement of famous races such as the Gold Cup, which in 2020 was looking set to be won by Al Boum Photo.
It’s a well put together game, with a lot of detail. You need to balance several factors while racing, maintaining the horse’s stamina, speed, and health. This can be very difficult to do, making it quite frustrating while you learn.
Dodgeball - Pirates vs. Ninjas Dodgeball
Do you remember the five Ds of dodgeball? Dodge, duck, dip, dive, and….dodge! If you can remember those and you like pirates and/or ninjas, then this peculiar combination of ingredients is the game for you.
Released only for the Xbox 360 and Wii in 2008 and 2009 respectively, Pirates vs Ninjas Dodgeball is a game of its time. The 2004 film, Dodgeball, was still referenced in pop culture and many people were arguing online with each other about whether pirates or ninjas were better.
Although the game was released for the seventh generation of consoles, the graphics were not spectacular, looking more like they belonged on a PlayStation 2 or Xbox. The game is quite hectic, just like a real dodgeball game and the “story mode” got quite confusing for most players. It’s still a fun and quirky game that’s worth playing for a little while.
Some motorsports have had successful video game franchises. The Codemasters releases of Formula 1 have been popular among fans, and titles like Colin McRae Rally were hit titles on the original Playstation. Games like Gran Turismo and Forza have also become popular titles on their respective consoles, helping to redefine the car racing genre, and are even used to scout real life racing drivers.
NASCAR is a form of motorsport that doesn’t lend itself to video games though. Other sports have a lot of variation in their racing, thanks to them being able to include right hand turns. There’s something very unappealing about spending hours driving some car shaped polygons around an oval for hours, no matter how much you love the sport.
That’s why the developers of NASCAR Rumble decided to spice things up when they created this game. Available only for the original PlayStation, NASCAR Rumble let players beat their opponents by using Mario Kart style features like oil slicks and tornadoes.