The leading producer of sports games throughout the 21st century has been EA Sports, with the studio establishing its dominance during the early 1990’s. EA now has the deserved reputation as being the premier brand for sports gaming across multiple markets, spanning several key geographical areas.
Despite what many critics may have to say about FIFA, EA Sports has made a roaring success of its football franchise. Year-on-year, the newest version of FIFA typically outsells the previous version. Fuelled by the immensely popular FIFA Ultimate Team, and subsequent transition into becoming a genuine e-Sports discipline, FIFA is now considered to be among the cream of the crop. In securing the exclusive rights to represent the Champions League and Europa League, EA Sports has effectively put an end to any credible opposition that they faced from Konami’s PES.
In September 2018, NBA 2K19 rose to second in the sports charts, overtaking Madden19 and NHL19
It is now expected that EA will maintain its steadfast grip on the football gaming market for the foreseeable future, a hold that EA has been able to replicate through the yearly release of titles concerning American football and ice hockey (Madden and NHL, respectively). EA’s greatest threat is not based on virtual grass, nor ice; it is instead the growing competence of 2K’s basketball franchise that poses the greatest challenge to EA’s sporting dominance. In September 2018, NBA 2K19 rose to second in the sports charts, overtaking Madden19 and NHL19 to make it clear that the consumer is becoming increasingly attuned to the work of California-based 2K Studios.
2K’s rise has been years in the making and has been predicted by many. The level of immersion that NBA 2K titles offer through yearly story modes is something that EA has repeatedly failed to replicate. ‘The Journey’, a feature on the last three versions of FIFA, has largely disappointed its audience, with many claiming that it falls way short of the lofty expectations that EA set prior to its release.
EA holds all the cards and there is very little that their competition can do to turn the tide.
The 2K Studios have dominated the basketball scene for over a decade, which is in part due to a period of minimal competition. After several years in the basketball wilderness, EA announced its intentions to relaunch its NBA Live franchise ahead of the 2013 season, but deadlines were missed and the rebirth of Live was pushed back another year. EA’s revitalised NBA Live has now been in competition with 2K’s NBA franchise for five years and is yet to come close to recapturing the market. It therefore clearly isn’t the case that everything that EA touches turns to gold, at least not immediately.
But with that being said, EA has only lost ground to a rival in one area and continues to dominate elsewhere. It seems likely that the state of affairs on the world’s virtual basketball courts will remain the same through 2019. NBA 2K19 is fantastic and remains unlikely to lose any ground to NBA Live. However, the same could be said when it comes to the football, ice hockey and American football markets: EA holds all the cards and there is very little that their competition can do to turn the tide.
EA Sports is often criticised for essentially repackaging the same game year upon year. However, until consumers look elsewhere their dominance is unlikely to wilt any time soon. Konami, 2K, Ubisoft and others may well stamp their feet, but they will have to deliver on the grandest stage to recover ground that EA has held firmly for the best part of two decades.