I was listening to this story on the CBC this week about this guy who grew up in East Germany during the Cold War. He talked about the fall of the Berlin Wall and how one of the things people were the most excited about, besides reuniting families after decades of seperation, was shopping. This was because in the former German Democratic Republic (it wasn’t really either of those things but whatever), there was only ever one brand of anything. If you went to the store to get butter, you had one butter to choose from. In the West, however, people could chose from all sorts of butter!
So the controvercial thing I’m saying here is that in terms of sports games we have reverted to a Soviet-approved system based on a complete lack of competition. That’s pretty remarkable considering how much we’re apparently scrambling to keep capitalism together. There is only one football brand, Madden, thanks to an agreement with the NFL Players Association. Other football games, like Blitz, rely on almost football with no recognizable named players (I should note that growing up, we didn’t care about this, but now we’re spoiled). Any other football game worth mentioning (NCAA or NFL Pro Street) is still made by Electronic Arts. But back in the day, we had so many choices!
What’s even more crazy about this is that history seems to be teaching us that a lack of competition actually makes for better games. How’s that for irony? Madden games improve every year despite a vacuum in terms of real competition (arguably because they have to do more than a roster update because they will aggravate their rabid, semi-literate fan-base), but when we had twenty-five different football games, most of them were garbage. I call this sports-game-based inverse-capitalism the Greater Madden Theory of Gaming Economics. The GMToGE (gimtoge) simply states that in a market filled with competition, all competitors can produce a mediocre product and most people will buy it because it has the word “Football” on it and all they know is that they want a Football game, but if there is no competition, those people demand a better product on which to spend their hard-earned dollars and might just opt for last year’s version or not purchase any football games (oh noes!)
So anyway, Capcom MVP Football was terrible, and if this were the former Soviet Union it probably would have had a tarp laid out for it and the bill for the bullet sent to its creators. That’s all I’m trying to say here.