1. When it’s all said and done, this will be said: “NBA 2K17 is your sports game of the year.”
Mike Lowe: Fact. NBA 2K16 would already win sports game of the year a year from now and probably in 2018 too; it's that far ahead of the others.
Ben Vollmer: Fact. The game has built such an enormous foundation. The Show is as solid as ever, but it doesn't take the necessary risks in its gameplay to make large leaps forward.
Fraser Gilbert: Fiction. I hate to put this in the fiction category, but I'm just not a big fan of basketball. That said, I can appreciate how good the NBA 2K series is, and I'm sure we'll get another excellent entry this year.
Caley Roark: Fiction. I have played MLB The Show 16 more this year than any other in recent memory. A large reason are the Diamond Dynasty modes, which have really become something great on their own. Gameplay, lighting and the overall feature set is a good as we've seen in this franchise. I know the NBA 2K series is a favorite, but for me, it will take a lot to knock The Show off the peak this year. (And I've even left FIFA out of my discussion.)
Kevin Groves: Fact. There are few givens in the gaming genre, but fortunately for consumers, NBA 2K appears to be a sure thing. While the Madden 17 news sounds great on paper, and The Show continues to be a solid title, NBA 2K17 will most likely capture this crown again behind solid gameplay, innovative features and a committed development team.
Mike Lowe: Fact.Madden
Ben Vollmer: Fiction.MaddenMadden
Fraser Gilbert: Fact.from a noob's point of view
Kevin Groves: Fiction.Madden
I think is headed in the right direction. I'm pretty critical, but last year's game was really good. If they'd just clean up some of this "WTF" stuff, like injuries never happening away from the ball, and just stuff that makes zero sense from a football perspective, they'll have perhaps the second best game of the year. But EA does not have a reputation for cleaning up well and so I have to say “fact” for now. is already on the right path, and they’re fixing of issues that aren't necessarily cover-worthy (special teams, we're looking at you) is a big leap of faith. They're getting right down to the issues that have plagued the series for years and slowly turning into the NFL game we've wanted it to be for over a decade. Again, I'm looking at this . Based on what I've observed in recent years, I don't foresee the fans' minds being changed this year. I personally enjoyed last year's game, but it'll take a big effort to convince the hardcore enthusiasts.. Every year I get hyped for the new additions and gameplay changes that promises, but I always feel a little let down. Last year's version was a good game, but still missed elements that make football, well, football (penalties, practice squads, etc). I know some annual complaints are supposed to be addressed, but for now, I need to wait and see. I would also guess that many who ditched in the past are too far gone to come back. If the press releases translate into measurable changes on the screen, is taking serious steps towards a true football simulation. Whether or not this is enough to influence purchases and our die-hard sim fans is still TBD, but the early news is promising.
3. NHL will be a sports game of the year candidate in a big way.
Mike Lowe: Fact. I see this game being at or near the level of FIFA by next year. It could give a fight for the second best game of the year, depending on how much the NHL team cleans up versus the Madden team. The Show isn't making huge strides in their game, and next year could be the year EA actually steps up and delivers as many as three VERY solid games (Madden, NHL, FIFA).
Ben Vollmer: Fiction. It isn't that NHL hasn't made huge strides in the last year, but even if the games does end up on FIFA's level next year (as Mike predicts), then does that really compare to NBA 2K for a game of the year spot? I really don't think so.
Fraser Gilbert: Fact. The NHL series got off to a rocky start on the current generation of consoles, but the most recent iteration made huge strides to rectify the situation. Now, NHL 17 is poised to innovate further and make a huge push for sports game of the year.
Caley Roark: Fiction. I'd love it if an NHL game were in the mix for the award. However, the series seems to have become overshadowed by other great sports titles after failing to make a successful jump to this console generation.
Kevin Groves: Fiction. Admittedly the NHL is not in my wheelhouse. However, as a native Washingtonian, I still know the yearly playoff collapse of the Caps is about as sure of a bet as you can place. With that being said, I can't see NHL, whose release is sandwiched between some major titles (Madden - FIFA - NBA 2K), having a major impact on the gaming scene in terms of taking gamers away from those huge titles.
4. The indie sports gaming scene will see another breakout hit this Summer/Fall.
Mike Lowe: Fiction. But if someone makes a custom football game that would allow for a Madden competitor -- or a college game -- I'll change my answer...
Ben Vollmer: Fiction. I so badly want to say yes. I predicted a couple of years ago when the underrated indie title Powerstar Golf hit the Xbox One that sports indie titles would be making huge waves. Of course, with games like Rocket League and Disco Dodgeball, this was a good assumption. But by this time last year, we had already heard about Rocket League. There's nothing quite as promising on the forecast, and indie developers seem keen on staying away from licensing. If we're going to get another breakout hit, it's going to be a huge surprise.
Fraser Gilbert: Fiction. In the case of runaway successes such as Rocket League, it was clear that a potential hit was at least somewhat predictable. Admittedly, we weren't quite sure how popular it would turn out to be, but positive early impressions hinted that it could be something special. I haven't seen anything to suggest that another indie hit is on the way, although I'd love to be wrong!
Caley Roark:Fiction. It's such a gamble for an indie game to make it big, I can't imagine another breakout success like Rocket League happening for a while.
Kevin Groves: Fiction. It would be nice to see another indie game break through and generate positive buzz like Rocket League, but the truth is these type of games are more miss than hit. Betting on another breakout hit is always risky, but I would love to be wrong about this.