When you think of sports games, the immediate titles that likely spring to mind are FIFA, NBA 2K, and to a lesser extent, Madden and NHL. In the modern gaming landscape these are a given; mainstay titles for sports played globally that make a lot of money each year. But when we take away the ‘video games’ aspect, comparisons appear – cricket, rugby league and AFL come into the fold; and while the former two have had decent success, Australia’s While these titles are totally understandable in the modern gaming landscape, you can’t help but wonder where a particular sport sits; one that is a cornerstone of Australian culture, and has been a part of our nation for at least a hundred years.
That’s right, folks. Australian Rules football, or AFL as it is now blanketed under, has had ups and downs within gaming throughout the years, but has never managed to produce a solid title or experience. In twenty-five years of gaming history, there have been approximately 18 (give or take titles due to branding and actual content) AFL titles playable over various mediums – console, PC, handheld, and even mobile. But unlike the mainstays in FIFA and NBA, AFL has never truly hit the mark with gaming – earlier titles captured the spirit of the game, but as consoles and technology advanced, the games tried to do too much, resulting in chaotic gameplay and intense development that ultimately left a disappointing taste in consumers’ mouths.
So considering the size of the sport and the passion of fans all across Australia, why do AFL games continue to flounder in gaming markets? There are multiple answers to this, with each one not providing any sense of hope for the future of our great game in a digital medium.