The Best EA Sports Video Games

Chances are, your video game collection probably has at least one EA Sports title in it. From the latest Madden, FIFA, and NHL releases of today to the MVP Baseball and NCAA Football releases of yesteryear, EA Sports has long held the gold standard for sports video games, and continues to dominate the market.

EA Sports

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EA Sports

Chances are, your video game collection probably has at least one EA Sports title in it. 

EA Sports is one of the most iconic brands in the video gaming world. Whether it’s the latest Madden NFL, FIFA, or NHL, or the MVP Baseball and NCAA Football games of yesteryear, EA Sports has been by far the longest-running and most active brand in publishing major sports titles. The empire is entering its third decade in the sports business and still going strong. EA’s foray into sports started with the subtle release of Earl Weaver Baseball for Microsoft and Apple computers in 1987, followed by John Madden Football in 1988 (you might have heard of that one). 

EA hasn’t looked back since: Since the late-80s, the company has released dozens of games across just about every professional sport, from arena football to cricket to rugby to sports people actually watch. Most of EA Sports’ products have become the gold standard for sports video games, in part because of exclusive league licensing deals, but also because EA makes such a solid product. Madden NFL, FIFA, and NHL are essentially without competition in their respective sports, and continue to sell millions of copies each year. 

This comes despite the fact, that, let’s be real: Sports video games hardly change from year to year. It’s obviously easy to tell the difference from Madden 08 to Madden 18, but it’d be hard to spot many major changes from Madden 17 to Madden 18, save for the rosters. Yet people keep buying the games, in large part because they are fantastically realistic simulations of their favorite sports. 

Even though sports video games may not change, there are still a few that stand out as all time great video games, and a majority of these have been made by EA. So let’s take a walk down memory lane and look back at the 10 best EA Sports games ever released.


10. Bulls vs. Blazers and the NBA Playoffs

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Year: 1992

Consoles: Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis

Truth be told, this isn’t the world’s greatest basketball game. In fact, it’s probably not even the best basketball game made for the Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis—that would be NBA Jam, obviously.

But this game was incredibly influential and advanced for its time, and would be the precursor to EA’s NBA Live series, which actually used to be a worthwhile series. This series was the third installment in EA’s NBA Playoffs series, which was the first-ever series to feature real NBA teams and players. Michael Jordan is even available in this game, which would become a rarity in subsequent basketball video games for licensing reasons.

This game doesn’t have the flare or pizzazz of NBA Jam or even the subsequent NBA Live games of the Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis era, but this game blew things away by 1992 standards. Bulls vs. Blazers also ranks 10/10 in the nostalgia department.

9. NBA Street, Vol. 2

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Year: 2003

Consoles: Playstation 2, Xbox, Gamecube

NBA Street was a different kind of basketball video game, sort of like NBA Jam optimized for the early 00s. 

This game was a staple for any sports fan who grew up in the PS2/XBox/GameCube days, who wanted to play a different kind of basketball game. It featured current NBA stars and past NBA legends taking up the blacktop for some arcade-style action. Anyone who may have found the standard NBA Live games a little stale was able to find solace in the first-to-21 style blacktop games the NBA Street series had to offer. 

In addition to being wildly entertaining, NBA Street Vol. 2 perfectly embodied the hip-hop minded atmosphere of the early-00s NBA. The game came along with tracks from hip-hop stars like Nelly, Nate Dogg, and Redman, all of whom were big stars back in the day.

8. NCAA March Madness 2000

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Year of Release: 1999

Consoles: Playstation

Even before lawsuits halted college football video games after the 2013 season, college basketball games were discontinued due to lack of sales. The last NCAA basketball game released by EA Sports was NCAA Basketball 10 in 2009, and 2K Sports discontinued its college basketball series in 2008.

That said, the NCAA March Madness games of the early 2000s garnered some pretty solid reviews. The best-reviewed version of the game was NCAA March Madness 2000, featuring former Maryland Terp Steve Francis on the cover. The game received a whopping 9.1 rating from IGN, higher than that year’s NBA Live video game. So while these games did receive only a niche following, it seems as though they were worth the investment. If you’ve never played this one before and you’ve still got that Playstation 1 collecting dust in the basement, it’s only about $5 on eBay.

7. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003

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Year of Release: 2002

Consoles: Playstation 2, Xbox, Gamecube

Tiger Woods PGA Tour gave you the full Tiger Woods experience, except without...the other stuff.

Even if you weren’t a golf fan, the Tiger Woods series is one that embodies both old-school gaming and Tiger’s greatness. The series ran under the Woods branding from 1998 through 2013, coinciding with Tiger’s time as America’s most iconic athlete. The 2003 edition of the game was the best-reviewed version, as the PS2 and Gamecube versions of the game each received 8.9 ratings from IGN.

In 2015, the PGA Tour branding switched over to bear Rory McIlroy’s name, but that game received only mixed reviews. Rory McIlroy PGA Tour would prove to be the final installment of the PGA Tour franchise—for now, at least.

6. Fight Night Round 4

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Year of Release: 2009

Systems: Xbox 360, Playstation 3

You don’t have to know squat about boxing to enjoy the Fight Night video games. 

Boxing’s status as a top-tier American sport ended long ago, but Fight Night’s status as a top-tier sports video game continues to this day. Unlike most fighting games, which basically require you to press the same button repeatedly, Fight Night offers a complex yet user-friendly simulation of professional boxing. And in Round 4, Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali are both playable characters in the game, which allows users to attempt to settle the Tyson vs. Ali argument. 


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Year of Release: 1993-Present

Consoles: Many

The ultimate college game, FIFA has become extraordinarily popular in the U.S. in recent years, but has long been the world’s most popular game. The soccer series is the best-selling sports video game franchise of all time, and the eleventh-best selling video game franchise overall.

The first FIFA installment was first released in December of 1993 as FIFA International Soccer, which EA had projected would sell about 300,000 copies in Europe. These predictions proved to be far lower than what would actually come; the game sold 500,000 copies in its first four weeks alone, and was 1993’s best-selling game in Europe despite a December release date. FIFA’s influence and dominance in the gaming industry has only grown since then, thanks in large part to the game’s increasing prevalence in the U.S.

There isn’t one set FIFA game that is superior to the rest, but even many non-soccer fans can’t say no to a quick match on a recent edition of the game.

4. Madden NFL

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Year of Release: 1988-Present

Consoles: Just about all of them

Yeah, Madden is pretty much the same every year. But that doesn’t make the games any less fun.

Madden NFL is easily the most recognizable and commercially-successful video game franchise to ever hit the American market. The first installment, John Madden Football, was released in 1988, and the franchise hasn’t looked back since. Madden has launched national competitions, T. shows, and millions of games sold over just about every console ever made, from the NES to the PS4. In fact, the name “Madden” is arguably more often linked with the video game than it is with the game’s namesake, Legendary head coach and broadcaster John Madden. 

Another great thing about Madden is that it has a game mode for just about every occasion. Friends over? Quick play time. Lazy Saturday? Franchise mode. Feeling like getting hyper-competitive with a complete stranger? Time for some online play. Football season never ends with Madden NFL. 

Few sports video game franchises are able to last 10 years, let alone 30. And based on the way things have gone for Madden, it’ll likely be quite some time before another football game is able to come close to matching its status in the gaming world. 

3. NCAA Football 14

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Year of Release: 2013

Consoles: Playstation 3, Xbox 360

Pour one out for NCAA Football.

It wasn’t uncommon to find gamers who said that NCAA was superior to Madden and to be honest, we’re inclined to agree. Rather than creating a carbon-copy of Madden but with college football teams, EA Sports instead gave the series a unique identity. The fast-paced and turnover-happy gameplay gave NCAA a much different feel than most games out on the market.

But where NCAA truly set itself apart from Madden was on the single-player side. The game’s “Dynasty Mode” allowed you to become the head coach of a college football program, giving you the opportunity to build a small school from the ground up, all while controlling every aspect of the program starting with recruiting. It made you feel like a star NCAA coach, without all of the side money and hookers.

Unfortunately for NCAA fans, NCAA Football 14 proved to be the final release of the series. EA stopped making the game after controversy surrounded the lack of compensation for players’ likenesses that appeared in the game. So while, for example, Tim Tebow wasn’t the University of Florida’s quarterback per se, we all knew who QB No. 15 on the Gators was supposed to be. A class-action lawsuit over the game’s use of player likenesses actually cost the NCAA about $60 million, with roughly $1,200 awarded to each player.

NCAA Football may return someday, but such a return would likely take years and a massive restructuring of the way that college sports are played. So for now, the game’s final installment, NCAA Football 14, takes the list as EA Sports’ No. 3 overall video game.

2. MVP Baseball 2005

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Year of Release: 2005

Consoles: Playstation 2, GameCube, Xbox

There was no better baseball video-game franchise than MVP Baseball. Ever.

EA Sports knocked it out of the park (no pun intended) during its brief stint with baseball rights. The company produced the middling Triple Play series from 1996-2002. But it was with the MVP branding that EA made its best baseball games, which it had from 2003-2005.

This culminated in MVP Baseball 2005, the final installment of the franchise, which is widely considered to be the best modern baseball video game ever made. It featured Manny Ramirez on the cover, and a myriad of options that made gameplay great.

There was dynasty mode, which featured a pretty realistic game experience, and owner mode, which allowed you to manage the day-to-day business operations of an MLB franchise. On top of that, EA Sports also gave us the smooth controls, solid graphics (for that time, at least), and gameplay options, which included a roster of old-time MLB legends to unlock.

MVP died an untimely death before the 2006 season, when MLB signed an exclusive third-party agreement with 2K. But that hasn’t stopped some people from continuing on with the game. Some avid MVP Baseball fans continue to make roster updates for the game, so fans can use today’s players in yesterday’s baseball game.

1. NHL 94

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Year of Release: 1993

Consoles: Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Sega CD

There are sports video games, and then there’s NHL 94.

Most video game franchises are pretty static from one year to the next, so there’s usually no one set version that’s really that special over the others. Chances are, you probably couldn’t name your favorite Madden installment. But NHL 94 easily stands out as the best NHL game ever made, for several reasons:

The first reason is that the gameplay is so simple, yet so engaging. The controls are straightforward, so much so that current NHL games still have an “NHL 94” controls option. NHL 94’s gameplay is about as authentic as any game ever made—even if the graphics are anything but realistic—and provide some nostalgic 90s flare.

The popularity of NHL 94 lives on to this day. In addition to the “NHL 94” controls option, NHL 14 also featured an “NHL 94” mode that allowed players to play with current stars in an NHL 94 format. There’s even an entire website with forums and information solely about NHL 94.

You’d be hard pressed to find another edition of a sports video game with that kind of following.

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