One of the hottest topics in the realm of ‘Sports Twitter’ today was the announcement & brief ‘teaser-trailer’ for a new golf video game, ‘PGA Tour 2K21’:
Am I Qualified to Have an Opinion on This? No.
Full-disclosure, on my opinions related to actual golf, I’m a novice at best. If we’re being honest, golf isn’t even my personal country-club sport of choice! Tennis will always have my heart, but one must adapt as an adult to learn the unofficial sport of Corporate-America. While I may have my moments (in the not-nearly -enough times a year I play), I’m largely not very good. I’m not sure if this excitement I’m feeling is COVID-induced, but I’m already ALL IN on this game. Perhaps it stems from a baseless rationale that if I play a sports video game, I’ll actually improve at said sport? Realistic? No, not at all. Sad? Perhaps, but you and I both need to come to grips that this is what I’ve become.
Before we talk about the upcoming game, let’s look back on the recent history of golf video games for context.
Unrelated (but also sort of related) note: let’s pour one out for those Golden Tee golf arcade games with the ball in the console that you use your hand on to make shots. After this pandemic slows down, all the Lysol wipes in the world could not convince me to touch one of those greased up balls in a public arcade ever again.
EA Sports -> 2K Sports, Part Deux?
First basketball, now golf? Is 2K Sports destroying EA Sports one sport at a time?! After over 2 decades of dominance in golf video games, EA Sports appears to have lost their exclusive rights from the PGA Tour for pro players and their likeness. Realistically, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering their 5 year hiatus from publishing games in their PGA Tour series. EA Sports’ most recent installment, ‘Rory McIlroy PGA Tour’ back in 2015 had middling reviews, and relatively bleak sales numbers. Ultimately that’s the last we’ve heard from EA’s once heralded golf series, which could now be for good.
2K Sports takeover
Most people today are familiar with the ‘2K Sports’ brand, mainly due to NBA 2K franchise, the current demagogue of basketball video games. But, back in 2018, 2K and HB Studios teamed up to publish ‘The Golf Club 2019 Featuring the PGA Tour’. That installment of a golf-simulator had pretty high praise, with review scores as high as 75 from Metacritic, nothing to scoff at. Other than rock-solid gameplay, one of the game-breaking features is the Course Designer. I’m salivating at the possibility of designing courses, and having friends try them out. The sign will read: ‘Welcome to ‘Gilli-Links’, the course where every hole is entirely surrounded by water hazards and sand traps form smiley-faces’.
While the game was mostly successful, and has somewhat of a cult-following and online community, one of the big deterrents was a lack of PGA Tour pros to play with or against. The licensing of the PGA Tour, mainly featured the addition of PGA Tour courses, and an accompanying ‘PGA Tour Career mode’, neither of which were not on the original ‘The Golf Club 2019’. Realistically that barely impacts the gameplay and mechanism of the game. As you might imagine, a lack of pro players really hurt ‘The Golf Club’ from being a household name. Unfortunately missing out on the star-power of featuring pro players really hurt ‘TGC’, especially as they tried to make that big step commercially to be THE golf video game on the market.
Incoming feature for PGA Tour 2K21?
While nothing is concrete quite yet, general speculation is that this upcoming 2K Sports re-branded golf game of the series will feature the PGA Tour players. If true, it’d be a very exciting development – but can’t assume anything until it’s formally announced. I want to play a career mode with a virtual version of myself beating the piss out of Patrick Reed at ‘The Masters’. Maybe they’ll add some whacky stuff too, like celebration moves akin to those on ‘Madden 20’. Imagine being able to ‘hit the whip’ after sinking an eagle putt. That shot officially icing a TPC Boston win over a sobbing Rory McIlroy? Then riding off into the sunset with the cash prize, waving goodbye to Rory while hand-in-hand with Caroline Wozniacki. (Edit: terrible news, I just learned Wozniacki [tennis star and Rory’s ex-fiance] is actually married to retired NBA player David Lee.)
What to Expect Next?
The way-too-short teaser-trailer and limited info is just a small dose of the news to come. Stay tuned for more info on the upcoming game May 14th.
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-Mike Gilligan (@BigGilli, and @SmallStateTakes Podcast) – https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/small-state-big-takes/id1432138166