Can Trophies solve the used sports market enigma?

Welcome to PSU.com’s hit series on the world of gaming. Join our hosts Skip Williams and Max Platinum as they give you the inside scoop on a myriad of topics in gaming. From how to catapult up the Trophy rankings to debating about the current console war, don’t change that channel as there might even be some broken tables, because the debates get so hardcore!

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Skip: It is another week and another episode of Skip and Max’s Prime Time Gaming. I’m your host with the most, Skip Williams and with me as always is the doctor of trophinomics, Max Platinum. This week we put the sports genre under the microscope. Easily one of the most lucrative genres for developers, it is also one of the least valued on the secondary market. But before we begin, Max how is your concussion from last week’s studio brawl with Saikou?

Max: Don’t talk so loudly, Skip, and why are we filming in a super nova? I think I’m going to be sick from the lights…puking noises…Can we turn the lights down please. I don’t know how WWE superstars deal with it every week.

Skip: Wrestling is fake, Max.

Max: Tell that to all the broken necks and spinal cords and other bones. They never got the memo they were only supposed to imaginarily break.

Skip: Sports games have been a popular genre on consoles since the dawn of time but, except for an initial graphical and technological leap with each new console, they largely remain the same every year. Why do Trophies make those $5-10 copies of older sports games worth buying?

Max: You’re right, Skip. Each yearly version of your popular sports game doesn’t tend to change much except for some cosmetic, AI, and control changes. Oh wow, Crosby is a 99 instead of a 98, or Gretzky is on the Blues instead of the Kings. Great! Unless you want to play with a specific player on a specific team, or when he had better stats, there is very little reason to go back to older versions since the genre has evolved so much graphically. But Trophies give the player that extra goal to strive towards.

Skip: So you’re saying that because the Trophies add a new element that was not there before, it gives older versions something unique to them?

Max: Exactly. Sports games are the most damned genre because with very few exceptions, no new sports are invented, so it is not like someone can just change baseball and make a whole new series…what would they call it, Mutant League Baseball?

Skip: There was a Mutant League Hockey and Football.

Max: What did I say about making mythical things up, Skip? Next thing you will tell me is it stars some guy named Bones Jackson, like Bo Jackson except undead.

Skip: Actually…

Max: Lalalalala, I am not listening to your wild fantasy talk. It is too depressing.

Skip: Why would it be so depressing, Max? Wouldn’t you be happy hip-checking players into mine pits?

Max: I would, but it is depressing that we only get re-hashes of the same game every year. Why is the sports market so dull and depressing and uninspiring? You know what I just bought?

Skip: Please tell me it doesn’t involve a trip to a porn store, a hooker, and white powder.

Max: NHL13…wait, what? Why would I go to a porn store if I hired a hooker?

Skip: Variety of choice?

Max: And fans think I’m the one with the problems. You’re lucky Rebekka is not co-hosting this week. Anyways, do you know why I cried myself to sleep after I bought it?

Skip: Uh, when don’t you cry yourself to sleep? I’ve lost count over what does it. A lunar eclipse, breaking a nail, Jill Valentine not being real…

Max: It was the same game as NHL 2004. That is the sad state of the sports genre that every new year we get the same game with a new number and athlete on the cover. Where are my Mutant League Hockeys, Super Baseball 2020s, and Base Wars? Whose ass do I have to kiss to get a Base Wars 2?

Skip: Max, you’re in rant mode at the moment. Let’s scale back a bit and focus on the original premise of today’s show and how you were saying Trophies add value to used sports games.

Max: After my rant I should rephrase it to EA, Sega, and Sony made sports games, basically anything that uses the established pro leagues. Their problem, as I ranted, is every year it is the same game. Sure, you get a new mode every blue moon and better graphics, but then it is the same stuff for the in-between years. Trophies allow gamers to pick up those $5 bargain bin sports games, because everyone knows that is where they always go, and actually have a reason to play it other than nostalgia as the Trophy requirements are different. For example, in MLB the Show 2011 one gold Trophy requires beating the Yankees with Legendary pitching and hitting controls against the computer. 2012 doesn’t have that but has a different gold Trophy requiring every MLB team to be beaten with no innings being skipped. It might not seem like a big difference but it is a difference nonetheless, and for a sports fan on a budget it is a reason to buy a game that would otherwise be pointless in buying.

Skip: So why do gamers buy Madden every year if it is just a cosmetic change?

Max: Skip, do I look like a sociologist?

Skip: Yeeessss?

Max: Nature of the beast. Madden 11 servers only works with Madden 11 games, thus requiring friends to have the same game in order to play. Also, if and when that year’s server goes offline then gamers would have to upgrade to a newer year in order to play with friends and test their skills.

Skip: Yeah, can I get a large pepperoni and mushrooms with a large Coke and a side of garlic fingers. No, same address as before. Credit card, thanks.

Max: Did you just order your dinner live on international TV?

Skip: Yes, I did.

Max: Are you okay, Skip? Usually I’m the one who acts like he wants to get fired. Wait, are you trying to take my job away from me too? First Saikou and now you, did he get hired to replace you to replace me? I’m so confused right now.

Skip: You and the entire audience, Max. So, how much longevity will Trophies give the secondary market?

Max: Obviously it all depends on how long Trophies are around, but under the premise that they are here permanently it will have a long-term but small impact. Even though they help the secondary market, it’s like saying a D is better than an F, both of them suck but at least you’re passing with that D. Sports fans who like Trophies and Trophy whores are the only groups of people who would be interested in them. Until companies decide to find some way to switch things up so that previous versions are not just rehashes that beg to be pirated…cough…Football Manager…cough…the market will not dramatically shift.

Skip: What about non-traditional sports like the WWE and UFC games?

Max: They are the anomaly of this topic because the core modes stay the same but are drastically different in look and/or feel. Some are by sheer chance like the UFC buying Pride and thus being allowed to use Pride in UFC3, or it is by design like completely revamping the controls in WWE12 compared to previous years so it is like learning a new game. Some are cool, some are annoying, but it is an attempt. WWE also has the added benefit of being a scripted sport so there are storylines to be enjoyed from year to year, something that traditional sports lack in their current form.

Skip: What about a career mode?

Max: Career mode is simply renaming a guy and choosing to play through a game starting out as a scrub instead of an all-star. I will praise Konami that they at least attempted to put a story in their Professional Baseball Spirits career modes, not that I could actually read it, but at least it kept things interesting from game to game instead of just click play, assign skills points, and click play again.

Skip: Oh, thank you. Keep the change, and here is my number. Give me a call sometime.

Max: Did you just ask out the pizza delivery girl on live international television?

Skip: Yeah, I’m single. Is that a problem?

Max: No, but, you know, you’re Japanese.

Skip: Soooooooooo?

: She’s white.

Skip: Again, sooooooo?

Max: Hey, all the power to you, just studies have shown that white girls don’t like gamers.

Skip: That’s racist, Max. Where did you read that…wait, when do you read anything not on the back of a Vector box?

Max: I’m not all chiseled muscles, Skip. I do some reading, occasionally.

Skip: Occasionally being the key word. That is all the time we have this week. Thanks to Max’s supposed research, join us next week when we try and keep an open mind as we wade through the septic sewage known as video game research. Did you just eat a slice of my pizza?

Max: I had to save the world on a suicide mission this morning.

Skip: I thought I told you not to be racist. What do you have against Arabs?

Max: No, you just said the comment about white girls not liking gamers was racist. Also, I was playing Mass Effect 2, thank you very much.

: Some days I don’t know why I come to work anymore.

Max: It’s because you sleep under the desk in the studio.

Skip: For Max Platinum, I’m Skip Williams saying good night and good gaming, live from the Tokyo Dome.

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