Now I’m not talking about bringing back EA’s Grand Slam Tennis series, because while the features and customization of it were great, the tennis had a very arcade-like feel, and well, was just pretty much a joke. If anything, 2K has to bring back their Top Spin series with Top Spin 5, because even with very poor customization, Top Spin 3 and 4 were still fun to play with fantastic gameplay.
If a tennis series were to get popular however, I think someone like EA or 2K needs to completely start fresh. Instead of making a new tennis game every couple years like Top Spin, why not follow every other sports game lead and just drop a year at the end of each title. EA could do what they did for golf by taking one of the most popular players to ever play the sport, Roger Federer, and just plop a ’14, ’15, etc after his name every year. Not only will this get more attention due to the shear popularity of the player, but it is also a good starting point for a new yearly installment.
Next we need some fantastic gameplay. Top Spin did it best by making the gameplay really realistic. I have way too many memories of trying to get extremely fancy with the ball by putting a ton of top spin on it and trying to place it right on the line at either side of the court. What was great about it was that just like in real life if I attempted that instead of going for the easy winner, I would be punished and lose the point. A new tennis series needs to punish and reward you realistically for your play in the game, and not just make it very arcade-like where the most unrealistic things could happen. Add to the game the differences when playing on clay, grass, or hard court so that you have to make adjustments when you hit the ball, just like in real tennis, and the realism of the game can bring in fans that want a realistic adaptation of a sport they love.
Gameplay isn’t the only part of the game that needs to be done right in order for it to succeed however. Features that we see in almost every other sports like Be a Pro, and a strong multiplayer are absolutely needed to make a game successful. A strong Be a Pro game type is almost absolutely necessary, and really not that hard to do well. All most tennis gamers want is the ability to make your own character, and fight your way to the top. From starting in the minors, to eventually claiming the number 1 seed by winning a Grand Slam like Wimbledon is all I really ask for, if it is done well. If you look at games like FIFA13 and NBA2K13 we can see that putting in a good Be a Pro game type really isn’t that difficult to do by just following the already working formulas of these games, and just translating them to tennis. Andy Murray just became the first Brit to win Wimbledon since the 1930′s, and I really want to do what Milos Raonic can’t seem to do and be the next Canadian to do it.
On top of features a new tennis series would also need great customization. From creating your own player in whatever fashion you would like, to creating a new pro that could match Federer from volley to volley, to maybe even creating your own tournaments, these are all customization options that could really benefit a new game.
For multiplayer there are multiple great options that either EA or 2K could follow as well. For example, EA has their Country Club multiplayer mode on Tiger Woods PGA 14 that could be really effective in a tennis game as well by letting players join together and creating their own private tennis country club where they can host tournaments and play against each other. On top of a mode like that, simple singles and doubles matches online would be easy to put together and just jump in as well. Add tournaments for players to compete in, and this multiplayer could be golden.
All of these features and game types done right could propel a tennis series into one just as popular as a game like Tiger Woods, and I think that there is a real market for a new popular tennis series. Arguably tennis is more popular than golf around the world, and huge match-ups in finals with Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, and other huge upsets, tennis is getting more and more spot light this year in every Grand Slam.
Combine the what I think as growing popularity in the sport with next-gen possibilities and most if not all of the features explained above, and a new tennis series could very possibly work.