When I load up a sports game, the first thing I do is look at the top players in the game; then I compare those ratings to what I think the real-life counterparts actually deserve.
Typically there are discrepancies, especially as the season progresses. It's safe to say, Mike Mussina (13-6 with a 3.26 ERA) wasn’t rated as an elite player in either MLB game this year, and Erik Bedard (6-4 with a 3.67 ERA) was probably expected to perform at a higher level.
Nonetheless, many game makers consider roster updates a luxury rather than a need -- or they simply don't want to sacrifice the manpower to work on a roster update, much to the chagrin of the hardcore gaming community. The problem with that philosophy is it not only shows a lack of concern for the people who buy a company’s video game, but it doesn’t account for the unpredictability of sports as a whole. No one can accurately determine who is going to have a breakout season or a sub-par one at that.
MLB 08: The Show is probably the only current game to have weekly updates to the lineups, accounting for position changes, ratings alterations and injuries. Sony’s support really gives the community a good feeling knowing that strides are continuously being made in order to create the best baseball simulation possible. Yet even those folks don’t completely take into account streaks and tendencies. This is where the newly announced "Dynamic DNA" comes in.
Dynamic DNA was recently announced as a specific feature for NBA Live 09, and it's expected to be the answer to the dilemma explained above. For those who don’t know, Dynamic DNA is actually a very intriguing idea. The concept is that daily updates would be supplied to the game -- taking into account recent hot/cold streaks and player tendencies -- by utilizing statistics and other information to alter the way the athletes play inside the video game.
If LeBron is tearing up the NBA in the current month, expect him to be taking your team apart as well in the game -- unless of course you decide to use him and provide the pain to the opposition instead. That is just the beginning.
Say a sixth man like of Manu Ginobili has been making a lot of mid-range field goals as of late, but hasn’t been having any luck from beyond the arc. Presumably that should mean he won't be draining many threes in NBA Live 09 either. Players will be given patterns similar to stocks, showing their recent progression or regression in certain areas. The game then utilizes the information over time to mimic real life within the video game. Essentially, every day you load up the game, the players will execute differently -- assuming you download the latest file.
The biggest implication of this revelation is in online play. Instead of everyone playing with the most hyped team, such as the Celtics and Lakers in '08, they would play with a team that has the player with the hot hand or is on a big-time winning streak. With the ability to mimic the real-world counterparts and starting lineups, the online matchups would have a much sweeter feel to them.
Some may say this provides an imbalance in gameplay however, and that remains to be seen, but it would be nice to see what teams are the most popular at any given time. In the same regard, it would be obnoxious if you enjoyed playing with a certain team, but at different points in the season you struggled due to underperforming players in real life.
Still, the implications of this development in sports gaming can not be emphasized enough. If you are fanatical like many of our readers, you have spent countless hours on forums trying to find out when the next roster download would be coming. Now imagine if you could play with the actual rosters every day of a game’s existence, without worry.
Taking this idea even further, this feature could be adapted into all of EA Sports' games. How fun would it be to not play every online game of Madden against Tom Brady and the Patriots or Romo and the Boys. NFL rosters can have a completely different look on a weekly basis, with nagging injuries bringing down players’ ratings or making them inactive, not to mention players shuffling around the depth chart due to good or poor performances. This would provide a much different strategy when selecting a team.
Without a doubt, EA Sports is on to something because 2K has released details about the next NBA 2K game, and included is a DNA-lite feature that seems to be based more on real-time happenings in the game, rather than real-life data downloads, which is even more exciting in a way. (And In defense of 2K, no one knows who had the idea first, nor are they identical features by any means.)
Providing updates on a constant basis only gives gamers more justification to shell out $60 on a brand new game year after year. Logging in daily, knowing you'll be rewarded with fresh gameplay and the ability to experience something new potentially every time builds up trust and accountability.
This article was written by Matthew DiStaulo for Operation Sports. Operation Sports is the Internet's leading sports video games resource.