Death Of Rugby Games?

Sports games are big money spinners. Franchises like EA’s FIFA and Madden both sell in vast quantities. The company make so much money through these fledging sports games they can use it to increase their hegemony in other sectors of the game industry, further solidifying their place at the top of the gaming pile.

This makes it all the more surprising that rugby games continue to fail in the ‘shock-and-awe’ department of video games sales – and that trend looks set to continue.

Both forms of rugby: Union and League are universally popular. Union is massive in Europe, South Africa and New Zealand, whilst League has its feelers in New Zealand, Britain and Australia – which is its main stomping ground. Here is a game with a far more universal outreach than other popular sports games, yet it cannot sustain sale figures. From Australia alone, there is enough interest to warrant a game’s production year-in, year-out, as they do with FIFA, NBA and the NHL amongst other titles. But warranting a game does not necessarily mean profit will be made.

The thing with rugby right now, it is not due to a lack of interest in gaming but an overall lack of interest in rugby. Again using Australia as an example, this season’s NRL has seen attendance figures fall by 20 percent from last season, whilst its TV viewing figures have also dropped by 10 percent. Australia hasn’t been helped by the dominance of the Sydney clubs either, as South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Sydney Roosters – both of which are Betfair’s favourite for the NRL this season – have taken the league by storm. It’s as if the passion – which was always one of the defining features of rugby fans – has been extinguished.

As for rugby union. That is in just as much pain.

However, the rugby game platform is not completely dead. Next year will see the Rugby Union World Cup come to England. A world competition like that can only boost the game’s profile and you can be fairly certain that there will be a tie-in game going hand-in-hand with the competition. It may not be EA who take up the option to produce the game, but as long as it isn’t HB Studios – who offered up the simply awful World Cup 2011 game, then we will hopefully be treated to a decent rugby experience, that could prove to reinvigorate interest.