The Best Licensed Sports Game of All Time

Sports games have never been bigger than they are right now. With FIFA 21 selling more than 31 million copies, the genre has generated huge income for EA, while series like UFC or Madden also continue to bring players back year after year. The updated rosters, new features, and improved graphics have helped sports games remain one of the most lucrative areas of gaming.


With so much money coming in from these games, it is no surprise that developers want an edge in the market. Often, this edge comes in the form of official partnerships, with leagues licensing their brand to the developers to help sell copies of the game. FIFA might be the most lucrative of these licensed franchises, with the EA using their partnership to help sell millions of copies of their games with each release. This partnership has grown to the point where FIFA is investing in an official eSports brand alongside their traditional sporting ventures.


It isn’t just the leagues who have gotten in on this game. Star athletes have been lending their likenesses to game developers for years. Famous skateboarder Tony Hawk has worked with Maple Media LLC to create Tony Hawk’s Skate Jam for mobile phones. The jockey, Frankie Dettori, has leaned his name to online slots from Ladbrokes, including Frankie Dettori’s Magic Seven and Frankie Dettori’s Sporting Legends. Neither feature actual horse racing but use the themes and Dettori’s name to draw in gamers. Diego Maradona has also featured in an online slot, as have a number of football teams over the years. Even Dwayne Johnson has gotten in on the mobile game craze, releasing Rockpocalypse, which heavily features his The Rock wrestling persona, for iOS and Android devices.


Athlete endorsements in video games are not a new development confined to mobile devices, though. They go back to the earliest days of home consoles. Here are a few of the best video games of all time that make use of official sports licenses.


Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003

This game came out near the height of Tiger Woods’s dominance of the golfing world and helped translate what is traditionally a slow-paced sport into a more exciting outing. When else would the average fan have the chance to play courses like Pebblebeach or Augusta National? Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 gives fans a realistic and fun golf experience while cutting out a lot of the downtime that can slow play down. It is, by far, the best-golfing video game to ever come out.


Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2


Speaking of Tony Hawk, his Pro Skater series of games have been a classic since they first landed on the PlayStation console. While the original has plenty of fans still, the second entry in the series is undoubtedly a big improvement. With another amazing playlist to listen to while they play, gamers can tackle massive skate parks, putting together wild combos and racking up huge scores. That’s alongside the popular create-a-skater mode that allows players to groom the skater persona of their dreams.


Brian Lara Cricket ‘99

There have not been a huge number of cricket video games over the years, so this one stands out just by existing. Released for PC and the PlayStation console, this game marks the highlight of the Brian Lara Cricket series, with a huge step up in graphics and a wide variety of gameplay modes available to players. It even brought in famed cricket commentators Geoffrey Boycott and Jonathan Agnew to provide color commentary for the game, further helping to bring the game to life. It brought the fun of cricket into players’ homes for the first time.


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