The Most Beloved Sports Video Games of All Time

The Most Beloved Sports Video Games of All Time

Sports are an important part of the human experience. Sports are one of the many things that can bind people together no matter their age, gender, race, or sexual orientation. It’s a healthy way to engage with competition and camaraderie and honestly video games are the same for the most part. Sports are a perfect venue for expressing your passions and loyalty to your local area. With E-Sports becoming more and more popular video games are bringing that feeling of community and competitive edge to those who never got into playing a sport.

When compiling a “Best Of” list when it comes to video games you’d be surprised as to just how many people have sports games in their top 10s. With so many brands, sports, and franchises to choose from, of course, there will be some games that stand out among the rest. So here are the most beloved sports video games of all time.

Wii Sports

  • Platforms: PC
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Metacritic Score: 76

Wii Sports at face value isn’t the most in-depth or complex sports game however it is still one of the most beloved for many reasons. First off, it was bundled with the Nintendo Wii console, one of the best-selling video game consoles of all time. The game introduced innovative motion controls to the casual market allowing people to simulate the motions of playing their favorite sports. The game also had a little something for everyone with its different game modes to choose from. All of these factors contributed to this title’s popularity and today Wii Sports is not only a substantial part of gaming history but also the fourth best-selling game of all time.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3

  • Platforms: PlayStation / PlayStation 2 / Game Boy Color / Gamecube / Xbox / Game Boy Advance / Microsoft Windows / Nintendo 64 / Mac
  • Developer: Neversoft
  • Metacritic Score: 97

The Tony Hawk Pro Skater series is a definite staple of any skateboarding fan’s childhood. As time goes on, this game just continues to age like a fine wine. Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 is so loved because of the way it iterated on the games that came before it. It introduced the revert mechanic allowing players to have new ways to extend their combos. The game invokes a sense of nostalgia through its soundtrack. Especially since it mixed a bunch of punk, rock, and hip-hop tracks that were popular during the peak of skateboarding culture.

SSX Tricky

Main menu of SSX Tricky on gamecube
  • Platforms: PlayStation 2 / Gamecube / Xbox / Game Boy Advance
  • Developer: EA Canada
  • Metacritic Score: 92

SSX Tricky arrived at the perfect time in 2001. It felt like every other snowboarding game was trying to be as grounded and realistic as possible. Instead SSX Tricky decided to embrace color and stylish art direction. This game is easily one of my favorite games of all time mostly because of its Trick system. I can only watch the same realistic snowboarding tricks so many times but watching the over-the-top wacky maneuvers in this game will never get old. With its colorful cast, tight controls, and amazing booming soundtrack this title will remain beloved until the end of time.

NFL Street 2

  • Platforms: PlayStation 2 / Gamecube / Xbox / PlayStation Portable
  • Developer: EA Tiburon
  • Metacritic Score: 78

NFL Street 2 won over the hearts of many football fans back in the day for similar reasons as SSX Tricky. Instead of being another football simulation game, NFL Street 2 took the sport and dialed it up to 10. The game introduced these exaggerated moves to football that made the game not only fun to play but also fun to watch. Not to mention the game had amazing customization options as well. Sports games should try to strike a balance between realism and fun. NFL Street 2 defines that balance.

NBA Street Vol. 2

cover art for NBA Street 2.
  • Platforms: PlayStation 2 / Gamecube / Xbox
  • Developer: EA Canada
  • Metacritic Score: 90

NBA Street Vol.2 and NFL Street 2 are two sides of the same coin. This game took the sport of basketball and found a way to infuse the competitiveness of inner-city pickup games with the spectacle of the NBA league. And then dialed it up to 10. In the early 2000s, EA Canada was on a roll with its gaming releases and this game is no exception. EA found a working formula of arcade-style sports gameplay with exaggerated mechanics and maneuvers allowing them to carve out a lane that hasn’t been replicated to this day. Not even by them.

Backyard Baseball

the front box of Backyard Baseball on Gamecube
  • Platforms: PlayStation 2 / Gamecube / PC / Mac
  • Developer: Humongous Entertainment
  • Metacritic Score: 70

Where the previous entries pushed sports forward, this title went for a more stripped-back approach. People love this title and this franchise for its simple yet fun gameplay loop. While it takes pride in its simple mechanics it isn’t scared to throwout creative ways to spice up the original sport. Fans of this game also remember it’s amazing commentary. Half of the joy of anything competitive is hearing the in game commentary and this game’s dialogue is some of the best. Honestly, this is one of the best entry points into retro sports gaming.


There's a wide roster of strange figures lurking in NBA Jam Tournament Edition.
There’s a wide roster of strange figures lurking in NBA Jam Tournament Edition.
  • Platforms: Arcade / Super NES / Sega Genesis / Game Gear / Game Boy / Sega CD / 32X / Atari Jaguar / Sega Saturn / PlayStation
  • Developer: Midway
  • Metacritic Score: N/A

NBA Jam is arguably the most popular game on this list. There’s a recurring theme of the most beloved sport video games and they all tend to embrace that arcade like, exaggerated gameplay. This game perfectly captured the excitement of sports with its two vs two gameplay. When you take that and add on gravity-defying dunks , unrealistically long three pointers, and a simple pick and play control scheme. NBA Jam becomes not only one of the best sports games but one of the best video games period. Boomshakala.


  • Platforms: Atari
  • Developer: Atari
  • Metacritic Score: N/A

Pong was the very first commercially successful video game and we wouldn’t have the video game industry without it. That alone is enough for it to be considered a beloved sports game. Released in 1972, Pong‘s simplicity and accessibility made it appealing to a massive audience. Pong was not only a major influence on gaming but on culture as well. It brought people from all walks of life together to the local arcade to compete and have fun. Pong is what sports is all about.

Rocket League

  • Platforms: PlayStation 4 / Windows / Xbox One / Mac / Linux / Nintendo Switch
  • Developer: Psyonix
  • Metacritic Score: 85

Rocket League is a bit different from the other games on this list but that’s exactly why gamers love it. Soccer with rocket-powered cars is a completely unhinged idea but it works perfectly. It’s not every day that a game with a unique concept enters the scene and unique is the best way to describe Rocket League. The game is simple but very difficult to play at the high level which gives it a competitive edge. On top of that, this title still receives regular updates and support and has been receiving new content for almost 10 years.

Madden 2005

Screenshot of the main menu
  • Platforms: GameCube / PlayStation 2 / PlayStation / Xbox / Nintendo DS / Windows / Game Boy Advance / Tapwave Zodiac
  • Developer: EA Tiburon
  • Metacritic Score: 91

Madden 05 is considered to be the blueprint for modern sports games. Especially with online competitive game modes. This title also introduced the Hit Stick feature allowing players to control the intensity of tackers. Madden 05 struck a perfect balance between accessibility and complexity making it satisfying for hardcore fans and new comers. This game was ahead of it’s time and is still talked about to this day.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017

  • Platforms: Windows / PlayStation 3 / PlayStation 4 / Xbox 360 / Xbox One / Android / IOS
  • Developer: PES Productions
  • Metacritic Score: 85

PES 2017 is praised for its realistic and fluid gameplay. Fans of this franchise look for an authentic soccer experience and thats exactly what this title delivered. PES 2017 brought a new refined iteration on the PES formula with it’s dynamic weather, visual improvements, and the overhaul of the Master League game mode. The PES franchise is a pretty consistent one but this game is beloved for everything it did for the game series.


In Wii Punch-Out, Little Mac faces his toughest opponent yet.
In Wii Punch-Out, Little Mac faces his toughest opponent yet.
  • Platforms: Wii
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Metacritic Score: 86

Punch-Out!! and the original Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! are beloved games. The Wii version is a beautiful revival that was able to build on the nostalgia and charm of the original. Punch-Out!! feeds heavily into the nostalgia factor as it brings back many familiar characters on top of introducing new ones. The controls are tight and responsive which is a stand out especially because it utilizes motion controls. The title had everything it needed to become a great party game but it didn’t forget to provide challenging single player content that would rival the original.

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