The demand for great sports games is a strong one.

Each year, fans across the globe yearn for their favorite sports title to improve upon its previous installment in order to provide the best experience possible. Though it doesn’t always work out that way, 2016 was a year that sports fans received strong outings from almost every major game put out.

From indie titles like Casey Powell Lacrosse 16 and Out of the Park Baseball 17 to big AAA games like Forza Horizon 3 and Madden NFL 17, there was no shortage of fun entries for the sports gamer. But what games stood out to the staff of Sports Gamers Online as the best of the best? It’s time for Sports Gamers Online’s 2016 Year End Awards starting with the best new feature in a sports game.

6Best New Feature

WINNER: Battle Royale and Conquest Mode — MLB The Show 16

REASON: Diamond Dynasty has become one of the more popular modes in sports gaming today, and the introduction of Battle Royale and Conquest inside the mode put it over the top. From the double-elimination tournament that is Battle Royale to the strategy-like feel of Conquest, these new additions to MLB the Show 16 added hours of more replay value than ever before.

5Best Indie Game

WINNER: Out of the Park Baseball 17

REASON: When an indie game sells over 100,000 copies for the first time in its series history, you know it’s doing something right. OOTP 17 featured 1,000s of real players, authentic 3D ballparks, and improved AI logic, among other features. The game is the best example of what it’s like to be in charge of your own sports franchise.

4Best AAA Game

WINNER: NBA 2k17

REASON: From the updates to MyGM/MyLeague modes to post-launch support from 2K Sports, NBA 2k17 has shined in every sense of the word since it’s September 2016 release. The additions of league expansion, a fully-featured online MyLeague, and an improved MyCareer add to the already stellar gameplay, making it the most well-rounded major title available.

3Best Graphics

WINNER: Forza Horizon 3

REASON: When you want to test the visual power of a console, just use a racing game. With beautiful landscapes, incredible tracks and a great weather system, Forza Horizon 3 is as breathtaking of a gaming experience as you’ll find. Graphics alone usually don’t sell a game, but Forza Horizon 3 makes an case for using visuals as a primary selling point.

2Best Mode

WINNER: Diamond Dynasty — MLB The Show 16  

REASON: If there was a mode that can give EA Sports’ Ultimate Team juggernaut a run for it’s money, MLB The Show’s Diamond Dynasty is it. It’s deep with things to keep players engaged — see the Battle Royale and Conquest Modes mentioned earlier — while also being simple enough for any player to pick up and enjoy. Sure there are still skeptics against modes that allow you to “pay to win”, but players can have Diamond Dynasty success without spending a dime. It’s a franchise mode on steroids.

1Game of the Year

WINNER: NBA 2K17

REASON: From the moment the voting started, it was obvious what the choice was going to be. NBA 2K17 is a game that just does everything right. It’s as balanced of a game that you’ll find on the market, and it has something for everyone. Whether you like the single-player experience or are a true multiplayer basketball fan, there’s something for everyone with NBA 2K17.

On top of that, the gameplay is scary realistic. From the signature touches of Steph Curry and LeBron James to the atmosphere of the crowds during playoff time, NBA 2K17 takes what fans see on TV every night, and puts it right in the palm of their hand.

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Michael Straw
Michael Straw is a gamer who just happens to be an experienced journalist. In his near decade-long career, Mike has traveled across the United States to cover some of the biggest events in gaming and sports, including E3, PAX, as well as the NFL and NHL Drafts. His work covering gaming and sports led his content being featured on Fox Sports 1, SI.com and others. He was once the second-ranked player in the world in NHL 09 on Xbox Live, and is a huge pro wrestling junkie.