• Sports games have been a big part of the gaming market for as long as games have existed, and each year they seem to get better and better. Some of the most popular sports are updated annually and boast massive sales with each new release. FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer are two of the most successful sporting titles, and they have been running for many years, which makes sense as football is one of the most popular sports in the world. American football games have also been making regular appearances in the gaming world over the years, with Madden NFL almost matching FIFA in terms of sales figures. Some sports aren’t as commonly represented, though. And some sports games just don’t generate the sales. The less popular sports often lose out to the big guns. So how do sports such as darts fit into this world? Back in 2010 the PDC World Championship darts game was released but there hasn’t been another darts game since. After five years, is the time ripe for another release?

    The most successful sports games franchise is FIFA. It has sold over 100 million copies worldwide and continues to achieve massive sales every year. One of the reasons for FIFA’s success is the popularity of football. But it could also be that football games appeal to gamers as well because there is a lot of variety in the gameplay. You do not necessarily have to like football to enjoy the game. And there are plenty of multiplayer options to make playing with friends a sociable experience. Another reason why the games continue to do well every year is because the real-life game changes every season and the games have to keep up with this. Players move to different clubs, and teams have to be updated. Each year new features are added to keep gamers interested and graphics are improved to make the games look even more realistic.

    Not far behind FIFA in terms of sales is Pro Evolution Soccer. Some say that FIFA is the football fans’ game and Pro Evo is the gamers’ game. Pro Evo doesn’t have all the rights to the names and logos that FIFA has so it doesn’t seem as realistic. Some claim that it trumps FIFA in terms of gameplay, though. Gamers usually stay loyal to one game or the other but if you were to add the sales of both games together then they would be the sixth highest selling games franchise of all time, ahead of Call of Duty. This shows just how popular these football games are, and it seems as though they will be around forever.

    Another highly successful sports game franchise is Madden NFL. Nearly 100 million copies have been sold and it makes sense as American Football is another very popular sport. The reasons for the success behind this are much the same as the reasons for the success of the football games. There is a lot of scope for new features and every year different aspects of the game such as the players and kits have to be updated to be current. Check out a demo for the upcoming game below.

    Other successful sports games series include NBA Live, which has sold 35 million copies, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour, which has sold 25 million copies. Tiger Woods PGA Tour has now been rebranded as Rory McIlroy’s PGA Tour, although some critics are saying that the new game is a downgrade on the old ones and EA made a mistake in choosing to change the cover star.

    With all the above mentioned games there is a something they have in common. All the sports that they are based on are all highly popular with massive viewing figures worldwide. If the sports are popular it makes sense that the games are going to be popular as well. And for the developers, it is more lucrative to work on games that are going to make lots of money. This doesn’t bode well for fans of the less popular sports, though. Darts is one of the least popular sports in the world and some don’t even view it as a real sport. Can darts fans have any hope of seeing their sport become a popular game franchise?

    In 2007 PDC World Championship darts was released for PC and Playstation2. It had varying game modes, tournaments and featured 10 professional players including Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor. This was followed up a year later with PDC World Championship Darts 2008 and was available for Xbox 360 as well this time. The last release under this name was in 2010. There hasn’t been another title in this series since. The last release was a big improvement on the previous games, with commentary from Sid Waddell and John Gwynne, match referees and Master of Ceremonies, John McDonald. There were also more professional players to play as. As you can see from the video below, the game play was good and the graphics were pretty realistic. The fact that Oxygen games made three titles in this series would suggest that the games had been popular, which begs the question as to why there hasn’t been a game for the last five years.

    The William Hill World Darts Championship is happening at the end of this year. The PDC Pro Tour is also ongoing at the moment. Michael Van Gerwen is at the time of writing generally 7/4 with the bookies to win the World Championship with Phil Taylor close behind. Maybe if a developer was to start a new franchise of darts games with one of these big names behind it then they could be successful. Much in the same way as the golf games with Woods’ name. It’s all speculation at the moment as there have been no rumours of a darts game coming any time in the future, but darts fans will be hoping that their sport is represented more in the game world in the future.

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    • mk

      I hope not. why anyone would pay for an xbox game instead of the real deal is beyond me!