John Madden

Editor’s note: Sports games frustrate me. As a former sportswriter, you’d think that I’d be a big fan of these games. But I’m not, as most of them are either inconsistent from year to year, don’t properly capture the sport, or are so impenetrable that only hardcore fans of the series can play them. Kevin provides some helpful hints on buying sports games. -Jason

Each year, most sports franchises put out a new game. It’s inevitable: Whether it’s football, soccer, hockey, baseball, etc., it’s coming to a retailer near you. How do you deal with all of these games? Which games should you buy? If you’re not the hardcore sports fan who buys everything and aren’t the richest person on the planet (you know who you are), this guide’s for you.

Tip One: Know the game before you buy

Unless you’re keen on getting a game on the day it comes out (and find some sort of enjoyment in getting day-one copies of sports games), this is a must. Getting to know your sports game before purchasing it is key.


Aaron Thomas...yeah.

For those who owned previous installments of a game but are unsure about the newest one:

Reading reviews is a very quick way to absorb lots of information on a game and get verdicts from writers that hopefully aren’t biased. The moment you read “lack of innovation,” you should decide to not buy the game, save your money, and hope that the next game in the franchise has something new to bring to the table.

For gamers that are new and jumping into a franchise:

Since the lack of innovation doesn’t affect your perception of the sports game because everything is new to you, you should really thoroughly read reviews to see if the game is right for you. Additional research and information on the game should help you decide.

Tip Two: If you can, don’t settle for waggle-fests

While this may not apply for all gamers, for many people waggle-fests can take away from the enjoyment of the game. If you have a Wii as well as PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, it’s better to get the sports game for your HD-gen console. Most gamers prefer their controls. Buy the Wii version if you’re truly used to the Wii-mote or only own Nintendo’s console.

Madden Waggle-fest

Tip Three: Watch for trends

It’s important to know the trends in a sports franchise. Watching the patterns can help you choose when to shell out money for a new sports game. From time to time, some franchise installments pull off a huge amount of innovation and are also highly enjoyable at the same time. Knowing the patterns can help make sure you’re not buying “more of the same.”

Madden 2005 was awesome

Let’s look at Madden NFL. Madden games usually have great, fresh installment every three to four years. From the beginning of the 21st century, the new and great games were Madden 2001, 2005, and 2008. But you should be aware that not all franchises have trends, and some are unpredictable.

NHL 09. Hellz yeah.

Hopefully this guide will help you make the right choice in buying sports games. Just remember these tips: Know your game, buy the right console version, and watch for trends.