When you think of video games and sports, you think of John Madden. (Thank god this is written, and I don’t have to try to do the voice.) The first sports video game I ever played was Madden NFL 92 when I was 6, and even though it’s not my preferred game anymore, there’s no doubt it’s still the de facto sports video game franchise.
I may be a little bit of a nerd (OK, a lot of bit), but there are only like three sports games that continually work their way onto IGN.com’s landing page, and Madden is one of them. It still matters, and as silly as it might sound, it’ll probably be John Madden’s longest lasting legacy. EA certainly isn’t going to change the name of the title now and nor should they.
It’s a very cool and deserved feather in his cap, and it got me thinking about the greatest sports video franchises of all time. (Well, I started thinking about it, and then continued thinking about it because I need ideas to write about.) Before I give you my top five, I’ll give a few rules because I want to lay some things out and make fun of some video games along the way.
I’m only doing five because I’m talking about franchises, not individual games. Yes, I’d like to put NBA Street on there, too, but this isn’t specific to one single video game. I agree, NBA Street Vol. 2 is good enough to get the franchise on a top 10 list but not top five. The Street games — NFL Street, FIFA Street, NBA Street — count as one franchise, but since they’re out of rotation, they were (barely) left off.
Also, Esports games don’t count as sports video game franchises. I know there are Madden leagues, but there are Call of Duty leagues, too, but killing people isn’t a leisure activity, it’s war.
Some car games count but not Rocket League. That’s not a real activity. I can’t go play real life car soccer. Think whatever the NASCAR video game is, but not Gran Turismo. I know those are real cars, but Need for Speed has real cars, too, and if I let that slide then this becomes more about what counts as a sports video game and less about the franchises.
Alright, onto the list that doesn’t include The Show because throwing to/running bases is fucking impossible no matter the button configuration.