Should the AFL make a video game return?
We do things differently in Australia. Christmas is celebrated in the height of the summer, there are seven of the ten most poisonous snakes in the world, and not to mention the massive crocodiles that roam the waters. But one of the biggest differences between Down Under and the rest of the world is Aussie Rules Football, a sport which is completely unique to Australia. Although the game does not have the biggest global outreach, anyone who ends up watching it cannot help but enjoy it.
As with most sports, Aussie Rules has had a chequered history within the video game world with the last true AFL game coming back in 2013. So are game developers correct in shelving Aussie Rules or should the sport once again be treated to a video game?
In a nutshell, the franchise should come out of hiatus. In Australia alone, the game has more than a large enough fan-base to be economically viable. The 2014 season saw AFL sides average 33,598 spectators per match, of which a liberal estimate would suggest that a quarter of those in attendance would be inclined to play the game. Working by this logic, there could be a market of at least 1.75 million players, which, although it isn’t groundbreaking, is a potential money maker.
This year’s AFL season is one of the most pulsating, with the betting markets currently weighing up Fremantle, Sydney and Hawthorn. It really is all up for grabs! When you have a season like that you naturally see the popularity of the sport increase. For example, last year’s Premier League season in England went down to the wire. This created millions of new soccer fans, of which many would treat themselves to Fifa 15 and cause sales to spike. Back in Australia, more fans means more customers, and more customers means more money. Moreover, as a sport it is extremely easy to transfer over into the virtual world.
AFL games have struggled in the past but a lot of that can be blamed on the haphazard nature of gaming developers. The gaming capabilities of next generation consoles could revitalise the flagging gaming concept. If the right developers can get a game to market that is spot-on and fully exploits the processor speed of the One or PS4 then an AFL game may even have a succinct chance of making inroads to markets outside of Oceania. The NHL and NFL franchises do well all over the world despite being a North American league and while one cannot put the AFL in that bracket, if they continue with their current global outreach dynamics they soon may. Having a tie-in game can only help the league’s worldwide recognition which in turn will be of benefit to the developers who will see their customer base swell.
Aussie Rules is a growing sport and a sport that deserves a stellar game for its ravenous home support. It is a game that certainly has the legs to do well but only if developers are willing to spend the painstaking amount of time it requires to make an immersive video game. Cutting corners will immediately kill sales.