Since the NFL 2K series ceased to exist after NFL 2K5 back in 2004, football fans that want to try something other than Madden NFL have been waiting for a game to come up from the ashes as a true alternative to the juggernaut from EA Sports.
Axis Football 17 hopes to be that game.
The team at Axis Games has seen their Axis Football series become more and more popular over the last couple of years, and they know that the time has come to really make a move towards being a true option for hardcore football fans everywhere in the gaming market.
“We’re hungry,” Assistant Producer James Richards said. “If you look at 2015 and the flash versions to now, did we make a lot of progress? Yes, but we haven’t really even made our mark yet.”
That mark involves being the deepest — and most well-rounded — football game on the market. And that’s including the Madden machine.
Axis Football started as a basic flash game for browsers, but has since moved to a fully-featured title for PC on Steam and mobile devices. Since its debut with Axis Football 2015, the development team, led by Danny Jugan, has worked towards giving fans the features they want in a football game without sacrificing any of the core components that everyone expects.
To figure out what exactly the fans want in a game, everyone at Axis Games peruses through message boards, YouTube Comments and posts on Steam to gauge the feelings of the players.
“Danny is usually the first one to see the reviews and comments from fans, and then say, “Hey, did you see this?”,” Richards said. “We see you comment about the audio, so we’ve gone to work on making it less choppy and more authentic sounding. We want to give fans the same game that we want to play.”
Speaking of the game they want to play, the mobile market has been bare when it comes to football games. Because of that, Richards and the rest of the team wanted to make sure that fans on the go — which he admitted to be one of — could play a great game whenever they want.
Though it may be easy to assume that the mobile market would just be a simple cash grab for developers, Richards wants everyone to know that that isn’t the case whatsoever. He mentioned that they haven’t included micro-transactions in their game, putting Axis Football ahead of Madden in their book.
“Our gameplay is good, and our game modes are good compared to theirs,” he said. “You can take our mobile game, and you can put it up against Madden’s mobile game, and we’ll hold our own.”
When it comes to the upcoming PC version, Axis Football 2017 is the next step in the growing process for the franchise. New player models, the aforementioned improved audio and a highly-detailed team editor will all make their way into the series in the latest installment.
The developers utilized outside help to design a player model that everyone working on the game could be proud of. From the look of the uniforms on the body to how the fingers move with the ball, the final design wasn’t decided on until everything felt right for the team.
“We put it (the new model) in Unity and saw it moving around, and said wow this looks really good,” Richards said.
The meticulousness of Richards, Jugan and the rest of the team at Axis Games is what he believes will help the series reach the levels of success that everyone hopes for. After all, the team is nothing more than football fans with a passion for the industry who care about the product being presented as opposed to making a profit.
“At the heart of Axis Games, there is a team that genuinely wants to create the greatest football game ever,” Richards explained. “I want a game that’s so deep, so real and so close structurally to the real thing that you fall in love with it.
“All we ask for is a chance, and that chance involves fans playing it and then telling us exactly what they think so we can improve.”
Richards admits that the game isn’t exactly where the studio wants it be. He equated it to chasing a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, knowing that companies can never make a game that’s perfect in everyone’s eyes. But that won’t stop them from working towards the ultimate goal of becoming a true alternative to Madden.
“We realize that today – right now – is not where we want to be a year from now or two years from now,” he said. “What we’ve done is set goals in year increments. We have set goals for release and then post launch updates. And we’ll stick to them.”
Axis Football 2017 launches this summer on Steam, and while they finish development on this year’s release, plans are already in motion for the game’s 2018 release.
“I’d be lying if I said that we didn’t believe we were on to something, and 2018 is going to be huge,” he said. “That’s not to say 2017 won’t be great, but 2018 is going to blow everyone away.
“Axis Football is going to be the most complete American Football game ever. That’s where we’re trending, and we’re trending towards that sooner rather than later.”