As the generation cycle comes to a close, history shows us that sports games tend to take a flop in quality. Developers begin working on the next generation of games, but ultimately they seem to take a step backwards from the current generation. Meanwhile, the current generation loses innovation and becomes stale. Sure, a few games stepped it up last year, but you can't help but think sports games have hit their peak already.
A lot doesn't bode well for games that have largely gone unchanged in the last few years. I mean, we now only have one baseball game to choose from due to 2k's inability to develop a baseball game correctly. The result is an exclusive baseball title that will close off fans this year, and ultimately already hasn't had any innovation in the last few years. The early signs for MLB 13: The Show doesn't look good as they look to add a beginner mode and some changes to RTTS. However, what really needs attention is the presentation. Sure, if you've only been on 2k's baseball and plan on picking up a PS3 for The Show, you will be blown away. Fans of the series, however, will probably be let down again. Even the menus from the screens i've seen look identical.
It's hit the point to where what more can be done? Based on what I've seen for the requests of input for Madden show that EA may be focusing towards another overhaul of passing. I'm also positive that NCAA will get the Infinity Engine this year, I mean it has to. If it doesn't, I can't really warrant a purchase on that. And if it does, will it be an enhanced version from last year, or a direct coding from Madden?
Arnold Palmer will be involved in Tiger Woods 14 somehow. Possible head-to-head challenges between Tiger and Arnold? Honestly, what more can be done with this franchise as I feel it peaked two years ago. It's not like there's new courses or a majority change in golfers.
Then you have the NHL and NBA 2K franchises. NHL 2k will probably never return, as they are fully invested in basketball now. NHL has tried to help push out new and fresh ideas, but EA Canada needs to go back and look at the core mechanics of the game. NBA 2k13 I personally thought took a step backwards, but is still enjoyable. The menu needs an overhaul for that franchise.
As for racing games, the conundrum that is NASCAR: Inside Line won't see a third game this year. I really think NASCAR should look into who holds the license for that. I do not think it's exclusive, however no one else has stepped up to the plate to make a NASCAR game. As for Formula 1, F1 2012 is clearly the best out of Codemasters Birmingham's 3 games. I don't believe there's much more they can do with that title either.
The one critical thing to notice between all the titles I have brought up is that one developer has the title to each sport. With no 2K baseball and no NBA Live, every single sports game has one developer, and it's starting to clearly show this is an issue. And with next generation gaming looming, we are going to see the gap in innovation between titles. Do you really want to pay $60 for your roster update and beginner modes this year?