This article focuses mostly on the Madden series of football games, but it can easily apply to many other sports games with a yearly release. This one is also going to be short and sweet since there really isn't much you can do to improve a game based on a real sport... unless you're making something that's not necessarily realistic or (maybe) an extreme sports title.
In the interest of editorial honesty, I must also confess to actually having loathed football for most of my life. This happened primarily out of damned near everyone I knew trying to force it on me and that I found it boring and dull. I still don't follow it much, but I do prefer my home team, the New Orleans Saints, to do well each year. When they do well, people around here are happier and the city is much more productive and successful. It's kind of like King Arthur and England: He and the land were one.
Anyway, here's what I would do if I ran EA and was responsible for the Madden series...
They aren't needed and they waste a LOT of space and useful plastic. They also have virtually no resale value at all on the collector's market. The only person buying last year's Madden game would be the hardcore collector who decided to buy every single title for a certain console.
Instead, just release ONE copy of the game on each platform where it will be marketed (Consoles, portables, et al.) and release new rosters every year as DLC instead. Releasing the newest rosters every year as DLC has a lot of massive advantages. It cuts down on production costs, makes the new material cheaper for players and ultimately generates higher revenue for the developers and publishers. Everybody wins! (That, and I know how much EA loves revenue generation from DLC.)
There are 'realistic' sports games like Madden and there are not-so-realistic ones like Mutant League Football. Looking at video reviews of it on YouTube, I find myself wondering why that series didn't continue past the 16-Bit era. It's also an intellectual property of Electronic Arts, the same company that makes the Madden games. Whatever happened to the Mutant League games, EA? I know they made money for you. You only made it available for the SEGA Genesis (and probably not on the Super NES because of Nintendo's strict policies on violent content in games) and a straight port on, of all consoles, the Atari Jaguar. That was a bit random...
Anyway, that game gave me ideas on how to improve the modern football games.
To spice things up why not add in a few interesting tricks, secrets, Easter eggs and crazy shit like...
...and other things that would make a player say '*What the F**?! the first time they see it happen. That worked with all the special moves and Easter eggs in NBA Jam and it will make this new football game that much more awesome as well.
When I say 'a lot more aggressively', I mean a combination of Mutant League Football's violence and the dreaded Oakland Raiders of the 1970's. Simply put, if the offensive line isn't trying to exterminate the other team's Quarterback (and dispatching any defensive linemen who get in the way), than you are WRONG. That being said, we don't need to let players kill the players from other teams. Injuring them enough to get them out of the game ought to be enough.
Too bad that no one put a football game on the Wii U besides Madden NFL 13. The tablet controller would have been PERFECT for drawing out plays you want your team to execute. And that's just one idea on how each platform's version of the game can be unique.
Why not give the PS4 and XB1 versions the ability to access music on the hard drive so players can pick the music they want playing in the stadium? By now, I think we're all getting tired of We will Rock you, Rock and Roll Part Two and The Final Countdown. If I were to play one of these games, I'd prefer to play my home team's official entrance theme, On march the Saints by Down. That track just makes the boys in Black and Gold look that much more intimidating and awesome.
Like I said earlier, I never cared for football at all. However, if there were a game like this available somewhere, I might change my mind a little. Make it happen, EA.