As the leading name in sports games, EA Sports have released dozens of different sporting titles. For example, the highly successful Madden, Formula 1, and NHL titles exist. However, they offer a lot more, and more modern and newer chapters of their games have started to shift units. There hasn’t been a boxing game made for over a decade. It doesn’t look like that will change anytime soon, but given that EA Sports spent a lot of time, money, and resources on developing boxing games and obtaining image rights in the past, where has it all gone wrong?
EA Sports knows how to identify how a game will sell well and what markets to tap into – it all started promisingly in the early days. EA Sports bagged the image rights to some of the world’s top boxers and combined current fighters with legendary boxers to provide a platform for gaming fans to become acquainted with boxing stars they might not have heard of before.
The main criticism of boxing is that the best fighters don’t fight each other as often as they should. Sometimes, they don’t fight at all, or they fight way past their primes, which is what we will be focussing on today.
The Fans Not Getting the Fights They Want To See
Back in the glory days of boxing, the best fighters would all face each other multiple times. Then, it was as straightforward as ordering your shopping online or having a casino game like crypto pokies. Nowadays, promoters are terrified to take a gamble and match up their best fighters. While it has never been a perfect sport, promoters would take the gamble and put their man in with the best, and they’d sell out crowds in hotel casinos in Las Vegas or purpose-built stadiums out in the jungle like the Rumble In The Jungle.
This was when boxing was a sport to be revered, it brought in excellent ratings, and it is estimated that nearly 33% of the global population either watched or listened to Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman back in 1974.
Due to poor matchmaking, boxing politics, and the rise of the UFC, the sport has gone from a mainstream sport to a niche interest for many. Even the biggest fights these days barely get the coverage they would have had 30 years ago.
EA Sports don’t want to gamble on a sport that is in decline, which is why EA Sports made the last boxing game in 2011, and fights like Jake Paul vs. Anderson Silva are selling more PPV than the boxing world title fights.
Boxing Vs. UFC
The UFC is gaining serious momentum in the combat sports business, with many believing it will ultimately surpass boxing within the next few years. Due to the monolithic structure of the organization, it is much easier for EA Sports to make a game involving UFC than boxing.
Many boxers have their image rights and are signed by sponsors and promoters. This poses a nightmare for game developers looking to obtain image rights and can be costly.
This is one of the two main reasons boxing games aren’t made anymore; it is eerily close to how the business works in real life, with too many chiefs and not enough Indians, too much red tape, politics, and overall, just too much of a headache.
Boxing finds itself in a position it hasn’t been in at any stage during its history, with elite-level fighters going 35/40 fights without fighting anybody on their level, comfortable to prop up their legacy with victories over B-grade fighters.
UFC benefits immensely from one promoter encouraging the best to fight the best – something not seen in boxing. Ultimately, this makes a far better product in terms of fairness and quality matchups, and this is why more people are moving over to the Octagon-based combat sport instead of the squared circle.
The decreasing interest in the sport and other components, such as expensive image rights issues, are two main reasons the game was discontinued. EA Sports said the games were not selling well enough to justify a continued annual or bi-yearly release.
This doesn’t mean it’s the end for boxing games; there were rumors that EA Sports were looking to rerelease the game after it had spent so long on the sidelines. Even their marquee releases, such as FIFA, will go through a freshening up over the next twelve months. Ultimately, the decline of boxing games has operated in sync with the sport’s decline.
Suppose boxing can get its act together, have the best fighters regularly fighting the best, and simultaneously put the political disputes to one side. In that case, there might be a resurgence in popularity and a resurgence in the sport. However, I wouldn’t hold your breath, the sport has been bleeding out for nearly 20 years now, and it looks like it will continue.