The Best Sports Video Games & Franchises

Sports Game Franchises
Published by NYSB Staff
Last Updated: 17. Jun 2024.

Sports-themed video games have become a beloved pastime for millions around the globe, offering an immersive experience that bridges the gap between virtual entertainment and real-life athletic passion. 

These games allow fans to step into the shoes of their favorite sportsmen, experiencing the thrill of scoring the winning goal, making a game-changing dunk, or mastering complex tricks. The attraction lies in the opportunity to live out sports fantasies, master intricate gameplay mechanics, and engage in competitive play with friends or online opponents. 

From managing a team to dominating the arena, sports video games provide a dynamic and engaging way for players to connect with the sports they love, creating a unique blend of strategy, skill, and exhilaration.

1. FIFA Series

The FIFA series, developed by EA Sports, has been a cornerstone of sports video gaming since its debut in 1993. Known for its realistic gameplay, detailed graphics, and comprehensive licensing agreements, FIFA has allowed players to control their favorite teams and players from leagues all around the world. The franchise's enduring popularity is attributed to its annual updates, which consistently bring improvements and new features, keeping the gameplay fresh and engaging.

FIFA 23 marked the final installment in this iconic series, closing a chapter on nearly three decades of gaming excellence. The end of the FIFA franchise stemmed from the expiration of EA Sports' licensing agreement with the global football federation, leading to a rebranding and new direction for the game.

Fans have adored FIFA for its immersive Career Mode, the thrill of building a dream team in Ultimate Team, and the competitive excitement of online play. The game’s authentic representation of soccer, combined with its ability to evolve with the sport itself, has maintained its appeal over the years. FIFA's legacy lies in its ability to capture the essence of soccer, offering fans a virtual platform to experience the beautiful game in all its glory.

2. EA Sports FC

Following the conclusion of the FIFA series, EA Sports rebranded its beloved soccer video game franchise as EA Sports FC. Despite the change in name, the game has retained the core elements that fans have cherished for years. EA Sports FC continues to deliver the same high-quality gameplay, realistic graphics, and comprehensive features that made FIFA a household name.

The rebranding marked a new era, but the transition was seamless, with players quickly embracing EA Sports FC. The game has continued to enjoy success, largely because it preserved the gameplay mechanics and modes that fans love, such as Career Mode and Ultimate Team. The familiarity and quality of the gaming experience ensured that the loyal fan base remained intact.

This look into the world of soccer gives players and fans a better insight into the strategy and performance behind the game. As players gain an understanding of the game, they can place bets on their favorite real-life teams using some of the best soccer betting sites

EA Sports FC proves that while the name may have changed, the essence of the game remains the same, continuing to provide an immersive and engaging soccer experience that resonates with players worldwide.

3. Madden NFL Series

The Madden NFL series, developed by EA Sports, has been a staple in sports gaming since its inception in 1988. Named after the legendary football coach and commentator John Madden, the series has set the standard for American football video games with its commitment to realism, strategy, and detailed simulation of the sport. Madden NFL allows players to take control of their favorite teams, strategize plays, and experience the thrill of the NFL from the comfort of their homes.

One of the key reasons for Madden's enduring popularity is its immersive gameplay, which accurately reflects the complexities of football. The game features various modes, including Franchise Mode, where players can manage an entire NFL team, and Ultimate Team, which allows them to build their dream team through collecting player cards. The annual updates bring new features, improved graphics, and roster changes, keeping the game fresh and relevant.

Fans love Madden NFL for its authenticity, depth, and the ability to relive and create memorable football moments. The game's detailed player animations, realistic play-calling, and dynamic commentary provide an unparalleled football experience. Madden NFL's lasting appeal lies in its capacity to evolve with the sport, maintaining its status as the definitive football simulation game year after year. Fans and players in New York can also take an interest in the sport through some of the top NFL betting sites as they analyze their favorite teams while growing their own.

4. NBA 2K Series

The NBA 2K series, developed by Visual Concepts and published by 2K Sports, has been a dominant force in basketball video games since its debut in 1999. Known for its stunning graphics, realistic gameplay, and deep simulation features, NBA 2K has set the gold standard for basketball games, captivating fans and players alike.

One of the key elements behind NBA 2K's enduring popularity is its ability to accurately capture the essence of professional basketball. The game offers a variety of modes, from MyCareer, where players can create and guide their own character through the ranks of the NBA, to MyTeam, which allows for building and managing a custom team using player cards. The attention to detail, from player likenesses to authentic court designs, enhances the immersive experience.

Fans appreciate NBA 2K not just for its realism, but also for its innovative features and community engagement. Each annual release introduces new gameplay mechanics, updated rosters, and improved graphics, ensuring the game stays fresh and exciting. The series has also embraced the esports scene, hosting competitive events and leagues that draw in players from around the world.

Additionally, for those who follow the NBA closely, NBA 2K provides valuable insights into team strategies and player performance, which can be particularly useful for fans betting using some of the leading NBA sportsbooks. By combining their gaming knowledge with real-life NBA betting, fans in New York and beyond can deepen their involvement with the sport, making every game more thrilling and engaging.

NBA 2K's success lies in its blend of authentic basketball simulation and engaging gameplay, making it a favorite among basketball enthusiasts and gamers for over two decades.

5. WWE 2K Series

The WWE 2K series, developed by Visual Concepts and published by 2K Sports, has been a cornerstone for wrestling game enthusiasts since its inception. Combining the thrill of professional wrestling with intricate gameplay mechanics, the series offers an authentic experience that captures the drama and excitement of WWE events.

Players love WWE 2K for its robust creation suite, allowing them to create custom wrestlers, arenas, and even storylines. The MyCareer mode lets fans guide their character through the highs and lows of a wrestling career, while the Universe Mode offers control over WWE programming and rivalries. The series continually evolves with new features, improved graphics, and updated rosters, keeping the gameplay fresh and engaging.

The WWE 2K series has maintained its popularity by faithfully representing the spectacle of wrestling, making it a must-play for both wrestling fans and gamers looking for high-octane action.

6. UFC Series

The UFC series, developed by EA Sports, has carved out a niche in the sports video game market by delivering an authentic and immersive mixed martial arts experience. Since its debut, the series has been praised for its realistic portrayal of the sport, capturing the intensity and strategy of real-life UFC matches.

Players appreciate the UFC series for its intricate fighting mechanics, which emphasize timing, precision, and a deep understanding of martial arts techniques. The Career Mode allows gamers to create and develop their own fighters, taking them from amateur ranks to becoming UFC champions. With each installment, the game introduces new fighters, updated rosters, and enhanced graphics, ensuring a continually fresh experience.

The UFC series stands out for its commitment to realism, from the lifelike animations and fighter likenesses to the detailed arenas and crowd reactions. Fans of mixed martial arts love the game for its depth and authenticity, making it a standout choice for anyone looking to experience the thrill of the octagon from their living room.

7. Rocket League

Rocket League, developed and published by Psyonix, is a unique and exhilarating sports video game that combines soccer with rocket-powered cars. Since its release in 2015, Rocket League has captivated a wide audience with its fast-paced, high-flying gameplay and simple yet addictive mechanics.

Players are drawn to Rocket League for its easy-to-learn, hard-to-master gameplay, which involves using rocket-powered vehicles to hit a large ball into the opponent's goal. The game's physics-based mechanics allow for a high degree of control and creativity, leading to spectacular aerial maneuvers and goal-scoring opportunities. Various modes, including competitive ranked matches, casual play, and custom games, offer something for every type of player.

Rocket League's appeal extends beyond its gameplay. The game has a vibrant esports scene, with professional tournaments and leagues that attract viewers and players from around the world. Additionally, the frequent updates, seasonal events, and cross-platform play keep the community engaged and growing.

The blend of soccer and vehicular acrobatics makes Rocket League a standout title that continues to enjoy immense popularity, offering a fresh and exciting experience for both sports and gaming enthusiasts.

8. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2

The Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series, developed by Neversoft and later by Robomodo and Vicarious Visions, revolutionized the skateboarding video game genre since its debut in 1999. Known for its addictive gameplay, iconic soundtrack, and impressive tricks, the series quickly became a cultural phenomenon.

Players are drawn to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater for its fluid controls and the ability to perform a wide array of skateboarding tricks. The game's various levels, inspired by real-world locations, offer numerous opportunities for exploration and high-scoring combos. The series' career mode challenges players to complete specific objectives, unlocking new skateboards, characters, and secret areas.

The Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series has maintained its popularity over the years thanks to its nostalgic appeal and continued innovation. The recent remasters of the first two games brought updated graphics and enhanced gameplay while preserving the charm of the originals, reigniting the passion of longtime fans and attracting new players.

The combination of thrilling gameplay, memorable music, and the influence of Tony Hawk himself has cemented the series as a beloved classic in the world of video games, capturing the essence of skateboarding culture.

9. Football Manager Series

The Football Manager series, developed by Sports Interactive and published by SEGA, has been the go-to game for soccer management enthusiasts since its launch in 2004. Known for its depth, realism, and strategic gameplay, the series offers an unparalleled simulation experience that allows players to take control of their favorite soccer clubs.

What sets Football Manager apart is its comprehensive database of players, teams, and leagues from around the world, providing an incredibly detailed and authentic management experience. Players can scout for talent, devise tactics, manage finances, and make crucial decisions that impact their team's success. The game's in-depth mechanics require careful planning and strategic thinking, making it highly engaging for those who love the intricacies of soccer management.

Fans appreciate Football Manager for its realism and the sense of immersion it provides. Each annual release brings updated rosters, improved features, and refined gameplay, ensuring that the game remains fresh and relevant. The community's involvement through mods and custom databases further enhances the experience, allowing for even greater customization.

The Football Manager series has maintained its popularity by continually evolving and staying true to the complexities of soccer management, making it a must-play for both dedicated fans and casual players who dream of leading their favorite team to glory.

10. NHL Series

The NHL series, developed by EA Sports, has been a mainstay in the world of sports video games since its debut in 1991. Renowned for its realistic gameplay, detailed graphics, and faithful representation of ice hockey, the NHL series has garnered a dedicated fan base over the years.

Players love the NHL series for its authentic simulation of hockey, capturing the speed, strategy, and physicality of the sport. The game features various modes, including Franchise Mode, where players can manage every aspect of a hockey team, and Be a Pro Mode, which allows gamers to create and guide their own player from the minor leagues to the NHL. The inclusion of Hockey Ultimate Team adds a collectable card aspect, enabling players to build their dream team.

One of the key reasons for the series' enduring popularity is its commitment to realism. The game regularly updates rosters, improves graphics, and enhances gameplay mechanics to reflect the current state of the NHL. The physics-based skating and puck-handling systems provide an immersive experience, making each game feel true to life.

The NHL series continues to be a favorite among hockey fans and gamers alike, offering an engaging and authentic hockey experience that evolves with the sport, ensuring its place as a top choice for ice hockey enthusiasts. Additionally, fans can further their involvement by utilizing legal sportsbooks for NHL to bet on real-life games, enhancing their connection to the sport and adding an extra layer of excitement.

 11. Forza Motorsport Series

The Forza Motorsport series, developed by Turn 10 Studios and published by Microsoft, has been a cornerstone of racing simulation games since its launch in 2005. Known for its meticulous attention to detail and realistic driving mechanics, Forza Motorsport offers an unparalleled racing experience for enthusiasts who crave precision and authenticity. The series focuses on professional track racing, featuring a wide range of meticulously modeled cars and world-famous circuits.

Players are drawn to Forza Motorsport for its lifelike physics engine, which accurately simulates the handling and performance of each vehicle. The game’s robust career mode allows players to progress through various racing series, tuning their cars and honing their skills. With features like dynamic weather, realistic damage modeling, and advanced AI opponents, Forza Motorsport provides a deeply immersive experience.

The series' commitment to realism and continuous innovation has kept it at the forefront of racing simulations. Each installment introduces new technologies, enhanced graphics, and a broader selection of cars and tracks, ensuring that fans always have fresh content to explore. Forza Motorsport remains a favorite among sim racers who appreciate the intricacies and challenges of professional racing.

12. F1 Series

The F1 series, developed by Codemasters and now published by EA Sports, has been the premier racing simulation for Formula 1 enthusiasts since its inception in 2000. Known for its authentic representation of the high-speed world of Formula 1 racing, the F1 series offers players a deeply immersive experience that captures the thrill and precision of the sport.

Players are drawn to the F1 series for its meticulous attention to detail, from the accurate depiction of real-world circuits to the lifelike physics and handling of the cars. The game features all the official teams, drivers, and tracks from the Formula 1 season, allowing fans to compete in the same venues and conditions as their favorite racers. The Career Mode is a standout feature, enabling players to manage every aspect of a racing career, from contract negotiations and R&D to race strategy and on-track performance.

The F1 series also excels in providing a variety of gameplay modes to suit different preferences. Players can dive into the My Team mode, creating and managing their own Formula 1 team, or take on rivals in competitive online multiplayer races. Regular updates and annual releases ensure that the game stays current with the latest developments in the sport, including new regulations, car designs, and driver line-ups.

The F1 series has maintained its popularity by continuously evolving and incorporating feedback from the racing community. Its commitment to realism and the high stakes of Formula 1 racing make it a favorite among racing sim fans, providing an unparalleled experience that brings the excitement of the Grand Prix to life. For fans in New York, this deep understanding of motorsports can also enhance their experience with motorsports betting. By utilizing insights gained from the game, they can make more informed decisions when placing bets on real-life Formula 1 races using some of the best motorsport betting sites, adding another layer of excitement to their passion for the sport.

13. PGA Tour 2K Series

The PGA Tour 2K series, developed by HB Studios and published by 2K Sports, has become a standout in the world of golf video games, providing an incredibly immersive and realistic golfing experience. Since its debut in 2019 with PGA Tour 2K21, the series has quickly garnered a devoted following among golf enthusiasts and gamers alike.

What sets PGA Tour 2K apart is its dedication to authenticity. The game features meticulously detailed golf courses, lifelike player animations, and realistic ball physics, making players feel like they are truly out on the green. With officially licensed PGA Tour courses and professional golfers, fans can compete in some of the world's most famous venues and against top players.

One of the highlights of the series is its robust Career Mode, where players can create and customize their own golfer, starting from amateur tournaments and working up to the professional circuit. Additionally, the game's comprehensive course designer allows for endless creativity, enabling players to design and share their custom courses with the community.

PGA Tour 2K also shines in its multiplayer offerings, providing various modes that range from casual play to competitive online tournaments, fostering a lively and engaged community. Each installment in the series brings new features and improvements, continually enhancing the overall experience.

For those who enjoy following professional golf, playing PGA Tour 2K can deepen their understanding of the sport's strategies and nuances. This insight can be particularly beneficial for fans interested in betting on real-life golf tournaments using the top sportsbooks for golf, offering a more informed and exciting way to engage with the sport they love.

14.  MLB The Show

MLB The Show, developed by San Diego Studio and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment, has been the premier baseball video game series since its debut in 2006. Known for its exceptional realism and comprehensive gameplay, MLB The Show offers baseball fans a chance to experience America's pastime in a highly immersive way.

The game's attention to detail is one of its biggest draws, featuring accurately modeled stadiums, lifelike player animations, and realistic ball physics. MLB The Show includes all the official teams, players, and stadiums from Major League Baseball, allowing fans to step into the cleats of their favorite players and teams. 

For those in New York and other regions where sports betting is popular, the strategic insights gained from playing MLB The Show can enhance their experience by wagering on some of their favourite teams using the best MLB betting sites, providing a deeper understanding of the game.

The Road to the Show mode is particularly popular, letting players create and develop their own player, guiding them from the minor leagues to MLB stardom. In addition to its robust single-player modes, MLB The Show offers a variety of multiplayer options, including Diamond Dynasty, where players can build their dream team, and competitive online matches that keep the community engaged and vibrant. The game consistently introduces new features and updates, ensuring that each season brings fresh excitement and challenges.

MLB The Show continues to be a favorite among baseball enthusiasts, offering a rich and engaging experience that captures the essence of Major League Baseball.

15. Top Spin Series

The Top Spin series, developed by PAM Development and published by 2K Sports, stands out as one of the most revered tennis video game franchises. Debuting in 2003, Top Spin quickly garnered acclaim for its realistic gameplay, deep mechanics, and the ability to accurately capture the nuances of professional tennis.

What makes Top Spin unique is its blend of accessibility and depth. The game offers intuitive controls that are easy for newcomers to pick up, yet it also provides a level of complexity that keeps seasoned players engaged. The realistic ball physics, diverse player animations, and detailed court environments contribute to an immersive experience that faithfully replicates the sport.

Players can participate in a variety of modes, including Career Mode, where they can create and develop their own tennis player, competing in tournaments around the world to rise through the ranks. The game also features a rich roster of licensed professional players and authentic tournament settings, enhancing its appeal to tennis aficionados.

Top Spin's multiplayer options, both online and offline, have been a significant draw, allowing players to challenge friends and other competitors globally. The strategic element of the game, which involves mastering different play styles and tactics, mirrors the strategic thinking required in real tennis matches.

The Top Spin series has left a lasting legacy in the world of sports video games, thanks to its commitment to authenticity and engaging gameplay. Although the series hasn't seen a new release in recent years, its impact remains strong, with many fans still considering it the gold standard for tennis simulations.

Embrace the Thrill of Sports Gaming

In summary, the world of sports video games offers an unparalleled blend of excitement, strategy, and realism. From the enduring popularity of FIFA and its evolution into EA Sports FC to the high-energy action of Rocket League, these franchises provide endless entertainment for sports enthusiasts. Each game allows players to experience the thrill of their favorite sports, whether it's scoring a last-minute goal, executing a perfect slam dunk, or managing a football team to victory.

For fans in New York, these games also offer a valuable perspective that can complement the growing sports betting scene in the Empire State. The strategic insights and deep understanding of sports mechanics gained from playing these games can enhance your betting experience, helping you make more informed decisions on New York’s leading sportsbooks.

Whether you're a casual gamer or a dedicated sports fan, these iconic video game franchises invite you to dive deeper into the world of sports, combining fun and skill in a unique and engaging way. Embrace the thrill and see how these games can enrich your love for sports.

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