For those who are into sports that involve punching people in the face, this past weekend was brilliant. We had the climactic UFC 194, in which Connor McGregor beat Jose Aldo in a record breaking 13 seconds. Over in my homeland of England, we had a great weekend of Boxing, with two different British Champions winning. It is a brilliant era for contact sports, with stars like Connor McGregor, Ronda Rousey, Floyd Mayweather and Tyson Fury dominating headlines and popular culture. It is no surprise that the UFC games are incredibly popular, with UFC 2 set to release early next year. I’ve spent quite a lot of time playing UFC recently, and it got me wondering, where is Fight Night?
For those who don’t know, Fight Night is a series of semi-realistic boxing games. The first game in the series released on the PS2 and Xbox in 2004, since then it has had several sequels and expanded to various other consoles. It even has a couple of decent hands held ports, not something a lot of sports games can boast. The most recent game in the series, Fight Night Champions. Released in 2011, for the Xbox 360 and PS3. The game released to stellar reviews, with many praising its overall presentation and gameplay. Since then we have not heard anything substantial on the next iteration of the title.
One of my favorite aspects of the Fight Night games were how well the gameplay suited couch multiplayer. Playing tournaments with a group of mates was the pinnacle of competitive gaming with friends during my teens. When you take into consideration how dynamic the fights can be, with the fight being flipped around due to some creative countering, it resulted in some tense and dramatic moments while fighting my friends.
The Fight Night series has always done a brilliant job of conveying the fun of boxing, without having to be punched in the face. I have a few years of boxing training under my belt, and I can honestly say the Fight Night games did a brilliant job of capturing the technicality, brutality and overall fun of the sport. While also managing to make it accessible to those that aren’t into the sport, through easy to pick up and hard to master gameplay. A template that EA Sports has used with the recent UFC titles.
The UFC games feature boxing like elements, but it is mixed with ground and clinch stuff as well, which I am honestly quite terrible at. EA Sports has recently decided to focus on UFC, as it is currently the “in” thing, with the brand predicted to make $250,000 million dollars this year it’s not had to see why. Boxing is still raking in the money, though, with the Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather bout earning the fighters $300 million between them. So it’s not like EA are having to develop a title for a dying sport if anything Boxing almost has a higher mainstream appeal due to it being a more recognized sport.
Earlier in the year, rumors started circulating about an EA Studio working on a new Fight Night title. Unfortunately, there is no hard evidence to this, with the rumor being nothing more than hearsay. This coupled with the very public announcement about how EA are halting the Fight Night series for the time being, the future starts to look even bleaker. It’s quite frustrating as the Fight Night series has always sold and reviewed brilliantly. There’s a dedicated fan base out there for the title, waiting for the return of the best boxing series ever to grace our gaming machines. Let’s hope the wait isn’t much longer.