EA May Need to Abandon UFC and Refocus on Boxing Games

EA Sports CEO Andrew Wilson says that he sees a future for Fight Night, but will the gaming and sports industries allow for it to happen?

As mixed martial arts' (MMA) popularity sweeps across television screens onto clothes, and now video games, EA Sports’s Fight Night boxing title has limped away to the corner of the ring.

While EA Sports UFC is getting all the attention, Fight Night has not lived to take part in a new fight card since 2011.

In an interview with IGN, EA Sports CEO Andrew Wilson said that “a great portion of the core of the Fight Night team” is responsible for developing their UFC game as well.  He also was willing to go on the record about a forecast for Fight Night.

“Do I see a future for Fight Night? You know, sure,” Wilson said. “But right now, UFC is where our fighting focus is.”

Sounds promising, right?

Fan Interest is Changing

From a sports perspective, it does not seem likely. MMA's popularization by Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has boxing down for the count. Over time, one of the world’s oldest sports became plagued by fixing and lack of instant gratification from getting knockouts on major Pay-per-view boxing matches.

The UFC is today’s answer to boxing’s age old problems. A knockout could happen within the first 30 seconds of a match, and if a fighter does not make his opponent unconscious from a crushing blow, then they will try to dismantle each other’s body through submissions until they tap out. It is rare to say a fighter either lost or drew with an opponent because judges had to score the match, which raises concerns for fight fixing.

All these elements make for a satisfying game. Anyone who plays would not necessarily have to understand strategy, but everyone will understand the satisfaction of knocking someone out cold.

There is also the consideration of boxing’s future based on three of the biggest names currently in the sport set to retire soon without any rising star having the same appeal as they do.

Floyd Mayweather Junior is planning on retiring in 2015, and legendary boxing trainer Freddie Roach announced Manny Pacquiao would have retired if he had not beaten Timothy Bradley Junior in their April rematch.

At 40-years old, Juan Manuel Marquez has all the elements set for a retirement. Marquez knocked out Pacquiao and earned seven belts in four different weight classes.

But from a video game industry perspective, it is likely that gamers could return to trading blows solely with their virtual fists.

EA Sports UFC isn't as Tight as Fight Night

GameSpot, USA Today, and IGN all gave EA Sports UFC poor reviews. Included in their criticism of the game was a complicated fighting mechanic that was not well-balanced and felt unrealistic, especially when dealing blows.

While the new IGNITE engine captured shifting flesh, painful squints, and natural reactions to defending against a barrage of mounted punches, it failed to take into account that fewer strikes would realistically send an opponent to sleep than displayed in the video game.

The controls attest to why it is hard to take a sport like MMA and make video game controls for it, as nearly every single style of martial arts could be featured in one fight. It may have been packaged neatly on one disk, but it is difficult for gamers.

While controls are a complication for a UFC game, the evolution Fight Night controls gave options enjoyable by different styles of gamers. For those who wanted more control and a realistic experience, the game featured right analog stick motions similar to the coordinating punches.

Gamers who did not like having to synchronize a symphony of right analog stick motions could just simply use the corresponding buttons for every type of punch. While a match in the octagon could feature swinging backhands and shin kicks, there are only four types of punches thrown in the ring.

IGNITE would especially flex it’s muscles when depicting the battle wounds attained by boxers during a future Fight Night game. The smudging of cheeks, treatment of sliced skin by a cut man, and sprinkles of sweat created by punches would all create a new level of realism EA Sports UFC could not offer from primarily wide shots.

But the criticism against EA Sports UFC also creates a level of uncertainty. What critics had to say about the game could be used to either follow up with a better sequel, or refocus the development team towards making another Fight Night.

Both sports are bruised, and gamers will only find out the results as the rounds go on.

Featured Correspondent

University of South Florida radio broadcaster and newspaper correspondent. Critically consuming the mass media.

Published Jul. 10th 2014
  • Jay2016
    As for gameplay, UFC's MMA style is a lot harder to recreate. I haven't played UFC 2, but in UFC 1 the play felt unrealistic and the animations controlled more of the action then i did per say.

    Fight night is simple, 8 directions to walk, a ring and 2 hands. You can move your head but it'll slowly drain (or quickly drain if you go nuts with it.) The inside or outside games feel like that. You can try to walk down and trap opponents with big shots or go outside and use the jab to keep em at bay. Punch count is higher than reality but its a game, so i understand why.

    MMA 2 from what i see, looks like a 2 way game. Either you're a striker or a grappler. And grapplers tend to get into these moves that seem animated as can be. Totally out of user control. The movement looks choppier BUT the graphics themselves, the sweat, blood and "ripples" of skin during a punch looks more realistic. Thats about it.
  • Jay2016
    Fight Night, in 5 games did very well. Peaking with Fight Night 3 and 4, sales dropped a little for Champion but it also came out the same time as several other major franchise releases in the video game world and it wasn't the best game. Still sold about 3mil copies within 2 years (at $60 per copy, thats $180million total. My guess is that would up making a very good profit, not including in-game Ad revenue, as of the last time I played 6months ago, they still had new Ads for movies, soda, etc on the ring)

    As for Boxing vs MMA. Boxing still gets way higher PPV buy numbers than UFC ever could dream of achieving. Mayweather vs Pacquiao, as boring as it might have been, was easily the highest grossing PPV of all time. Before that the record for PPV buys was De La Hoya vs Mayweather, that was in 08 I think. So for 7 years the highest grossing PPVs are all boxing matches. The first "PPV" was Ali vs Frazier I.

    Also this new generation of fighters looks to be a good crop, as almost every division now has several good, entertaining fighters. Even Heavyweight fights get press again with Fury vs Klitschko. And theres several quality younger heavyweights, some big KO artists. The Middleweight is by far the most exciting with Golovkin (if anyone ever grows a pair and fights him)

    Boxing is viewed by millions on HBO and Showtime at least once a month & Al Haymon's PBC is doing very well on network TV and cable. The only thing MMA has is it was the fastest growing fighting sport."

    In the end i think MMA will sorta fade into a niche following, like Kickboxing from the 70s and 80s. Boxing is the world's 2nd most popular sport, behind Soccer aka real Football aka Futbol. To be blunt, Boxing's beauty is in its simplicity as the sweet science.
  • Jose _2182
    Why need legend boxing game all legend
  • krazy kj
    Ufc is getting big but who cares with the new pbc bringing bck boxing to 6 free stations bottom line is plp want boxing it's the sweet science and ufc a joke who cares about qck knockouts.andbubget screwed all the time they cant even get the right score forn3rds.time for new fight night.the fans been speaking when ubgonna listen EA .I buy Don king 2 b4 ufc
  • Impartial_Gamer
    As a fan of Boxing and MMA, I think EA should turn their focus back towards the Fight Night series. No offense to MMA in general, but every single game created for it has just felt weird and robotic. There's no natural flow when it comes to the striking aspect of the game. On the ground, the gameplay just feels really sluggish.
  • ea wheres the boxing
    Ufc fanny

    Wheres the boxing sack the fucking chairman
  • Kris_3316
    EA please make another fight night champion 2! Because fight night champion came out in 2011 and now its 2015! We have waited 4 years!
  • Marshaun_8932
    If Floyd let them put him in the game everybody would do remakes of his fights and have him lose. It would sell like hot cakes. But he said he will never let them make a game with him in it. They should make him unbeatable unless you dodge every single hit and land every single hit.
  • Marshaun_8932
    Floyd said he'll never be in a game.mhe said he don't want people losing with him. Undefeated.
  • asfsaefaes
    i wish they gonna may new on ps4 or xboxone
  • Antonio Venuto
    Please I want a boxing game I'm begging u ea new fight night asap
  • Tierney simmons
  • Tierney simmons
    Please Ea I need we need a boxing game its time UFC is not it anymore I want to use MAnny Pacquiao I want to fight with Floyd mayweather jr juan marquez I want to see the look of the game on xbox one. boxing is not dead far from it .. and I have been waiting and waiting
  • Scuffling Noble
    since knockout kings first came out in 1999 up to fight night champion. EA sports have gave us 10 different games that proves how successful it was. so why do we have to wait as long as 2011 to 2017 for a new version? There has been a whole new crop of champions been & gone in them years which could have been developed. I've played ufc & is still no where near as good as the 3 year older FN champion. Also most fans will agree that Butterbean & Arreola have overstayed their welcome to the game they could easily be replaced with someone who has at least won a title. as there is no flyweights only one bantam & 4 feathers to play some of the greatest fighters in history are from these weights not the kebab shop? in KO kings there was 9 hidden characters e.g Alien ROSWELL, ED MAHONE, GARGOYLE, JERMAINE DUPRI, MARC ECKO, MARLON WAYANS, The Clown SHAMACKO, TIM DUNCAN, Q TIP butterbean + Arreola could easy be fitted in that kind of hidden roster if they have to be in. A flyweight Jimmy Wilde, Sot Chitalada , Benny Lynch, Khaosai Galaxy would produce far more excitement than those effortless to beat punchbags
  • scd
    sign petitionto get another fight nigh ame we have over 1000 singnitures every one of hem helps
  • joshua placencia-paredes
    You guys please share this with as many people as you can. I am starting a petition to help get Fight Night back. Please share it is important to me.
  • Ryan_1105
    I watch 90% more ufc than boxing but fight night is so much better. Actually I
    only play the ufc demo on Xbox one. It's not worth my money
  • Drew_1058
    " The UFC is today’s answer to boxing’s age old problems. A knockout could happen within the first 30 seconds of a match, and if a fighter does not make his opponent unconscious from a crushing blow, then they will try to dismantle each other’s body through submissions until they tap out. It is rare to say a fighter either lost or drew with an opponent because judges had to score the match, which raises concerns for fight fixing."

    how is that boxing's age old problem? a knockout can happen in the first 30 seconds. and if it does not happen you can still box and dismantle a fighter. obviously not through submissions because it is F'N boxing. Two different sports dweeb. what they mean its rare a fighter lost bbecause judges had to score the match which raises concerns for fight fixing? that happens all the time in UFC. they dont have many draws because they have odd number of rounds. but it happens and fighters are robbed or have controversial decisions. i hate trash articles.
  • Drew_1058
    BS. Boxing has better ratings, bigger fights, bigger superstars, makes more money, is shown on more networks, sells out more arenas. Proof EA or whoever wrote this crap does not know wtf they are talking about. I would love to see the sales as well. I beter FN3 sold more than UFC did. GGG on hbo would have better ratings than ufc on spike tv. no name boxers on undercard make more money than headliners on ufc ppv. without endorsements. Wladimeir sells out 50k tickets regularly. Carl froch sold 80k tickets his last fight. Cotto fought in yankee stadium and has the highest ticket sales in MSG. UFC is popular and i am a big fan but the nonsense that is is more popular than boxing needs to stop.
  • Born Life.
    Pleaseeeee make another fight night!! Pleaseeeeeeee!!! I love boxing and I know people who arent that big of a fan of the sport but they love fight night too!! Itll be so dope to see how it flows on the ps4. Please another fight night!! Pad work with the trainer, speed bad some how. Weigh ins..ppv matches..ohhh n we can get to do our own purse bidding and negotiate contracts. Ring size, glove size etc.
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