Cricket 22

Cricket has largely been overlooked in the Sports video-game genre. There are two simple reasons for this:

  • Cricket is a difficult game to get right in a video game.
  • Cricket has yet to make its space with a global audience.

Despite having some similarities with American Baseball, Cricket is a lot more strategic in its play. Each team has 11 cricketers — a combination of batsmen and bowlers. Every batsman carries a unique stance, approach, and skill set, and every bowler is equally as unique. Imagine the amount of work for programmers if they follow the EA Sports mantra of “If it’s in the game, it’s in the game.” Making an accurate Cricket sim is a high-effort prospect

Plus, the market is smaller for Cricket than for something like, say, FIFA or the NBA. Look at it this way: Many of the top Cricketing nations are from the Indian subcontinent: Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. These nations have lesser purchasing power, and software piracy controls are still not well-established in these regions. Other top Cricketing nations are Australia, England, South Africa, and New Zealand. As you can see, Cricket is not a major player in the United States or Europe (though it does have representation in England). So the market for Cricket is largely consolidated in regions with little economic power.

But that’s not to say that Cricket has been completely absent from the gaming world. Credit goes to Big Ant Studios, an Australian development studio, which has become the leading Cricket video-game maker in the 21st Century.

Cricket 22

The latest Cricket video game released by Big Ant is Cricket 22, which is probably the best Cricket video game in recent years — if not the best Cricket game ever.

Big Ant Studios licensed five prominent teams for Cricket 22: Australia, England, South Africa, West Indies, and New Zealand. Moreover, the game is powered-packed with an enhanced character editor mode. Players can craft their very own and favorite cricketers and put them into the Cricket 22 online community for others to download. So officially, you will be having five licensed teams, but unofficially, you can enjoy the names and faces that you prefer thanks to the enhanced customization options the game is providing. Big Ant Studios is taking one step at a time to make Cricket games as much enjoyable as possible.

Unfortunately, while Cricket 22 features real-life cricketers like Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Jofra Archer, James Anderson, Tim Southee, and Sheldon Cottrell (to name a few prominent ones), it uses similar — or even the same — animations for all of them rather than giving each player unique animations true to their playstyle.

The focus has been more on bowlers, and its a job well-done thus as far as the bowling department is concerned. However, the batsmen’s stances and signature animations are not there yet, and Big Ant needs to work a lot on that aspect. They did include some batting stances, but the signature portion for batsmen largely misses out.

Other sports, like Baseball and Football (or Soccer, to those in the States) — and, as a matter of fact, even WWE — will see signature animations for athletes in their respective sports video games. On the contrary, Cricket video-game fans are largely deprived of custom animations for their favorite players.

Cricket 22

Again, this might stem from a cost-benefit problem, where investing a lot of time and resources into those animations might not be seen as worth it to a publisher that wants to minimize cost and maximize profits.

But another way to look at it is that there’s no competition. If only Big Ant is developing Cricket games, they don’t have to be better or more realistic than anyone else.

So without serious big-budget competition, and with a niche audience with little economic power, I’m not sure we will see Cricket live up to its true potential in video games anytime soon. But I can dream that this will change someday. Maybe more people in the United States will get into Cricket, or maybe some development studio will take a big risk and try to make the best Cricket game possible, despite what their profit projections look like.

Until that happens, though, I think we Cricket fans are just going to have to take what we can get. And since “what we can get” right now is Cricket 22, I think we’re doing pretty okay.

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