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The REAL reason top Tennis video games disappeared for a decade.

We’ve all wondered what happened to beloved series like Top Spin, Smash Court and Virtua Tennis and we have all seen various other sports’ get new next generation games. But what did Tennis enter a “dark” period from 2012 until now?

Virtua Tennis 4

Many common thoughts seem to be that Tennis was not popular enough, Tennis games didn’t  selling enough copies or even that Tennis games were complicated to make. Well the truth is that none of those reasons are the main cause, and each one of those can be countered by data and facts. In a recent article by Ross Symons ( head of Big Ant Studios), he explained the sad but simple truth: Players got too greedy,  the Players’ agents that is. Around 2010 Tennis games hit a boom, they were selling well and Tennis was gaining in popularity as a sport….but with that, the Players and their agents saw an opportunity- you want them in your next game, you pay us more money for the image rights and licensing. The studios refused to budge , but so did the Players. This standoff was never resolved and most developers just gave up on Tennis games, as it is impossible to market a AAA title without having the sports’ biggest stars involved.

In 2017 this began to change. Big Ant Studios came together with Tennis Australia ( the governing body of Tennis in Australia as well as the organization behind the Australian Open). The deal was simple, Big Ant would make an official game for the Australian Open event, and Tennis Australia would take care of securing the rights to the players to be used in the game. Big Ben Interactive (now Nacon) took that a step further and went out on their own to secure the rights to many players for their own game, Tennis World Tour. With both games seeing a sequel to the franchise within 2 years, we also began to see the largest player roster ever in tennis games ( AO Tennis 2 sits at 32 licensed players and Tennis World Tour 2 will launch with 38, having more expected to be released over the season). 

We are also in interesting times, as the many governing bodies ( ATP, WTA, ITF and the 4 Grand Slams) are beginning to discuss unifying into one. If Tennis can become unionized, it opens the possibility of a developer securing the rights to “tour” and all players involved ( eliminating the current method of individually licensing each player one by one). This begs the question, with both studios finding a way around the increasing fees and both games finding commercial success…..will we start to see the bigger studios( EA Sports, Take Two Interactive, SEGA)  take another shot at Tennis Glory?

One Comment

  1. DonPjC
    DonPjC September 1, 2020

    No solo el coste de las licencias acabaron con los grandes título, mas bien fuimos nosotros, pues el tenis no vende tanto como el futbol o el NBA además hay que añadir que hubo varios juegos de tenis que competían entre sí, (Virtua tennis, top spin, gran slam tennis 2), esto hizo que el mercado, (que no siendo muy grande), se dividiese más, pues son pocos los que pueden permitirse comprar todos los juegos de tenis que salen.

    Creo que la industria podría haber seguido creando videojuegos de tenis sin comprar licencias, ya que lo importante es la jugabilidad si el juego es bueno vendería y más adelante podrían optar por comprar licencias…

    Buen trabajo etennis-gaming

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