Football video games may generate all of the record-breaking statistics and headlines, but another of England's national pastimes has consistently attracted players to its latest virtualised offerings.
While they might not rack up the sales figures of FIFA or PES, cricket games have built up a dedicated community of followers.
The latest ball-meets-bat entry to hit the market is PS4 and Xbox One release Don Bradman Cricket.
Like its real world counterpart, cricket has traditionally been a niche video gaming sport,” says Mark Clemens, sales director at publisher and distributor Funbox Media. However, it is a very loyal niche that we believe will be very supportive of Don Bradman Cricket.”
"Like its real world counterpart, cricket has traditionally been a niche video gaming sport. However, it is a very loyal niche."
Mark Clemens, sales director, Funbox Media
The new game is an expanded and enhanced version of last year's PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 title Don Bradman Cricket 14, which was released to positive reviews and even referred to by games website Lazygamer as ‘the best cricket game of the generation'.
In fact, Clemens adds, the success of the franchise has helped to counter the view of cricket games as ‘lesser' in quality than their football counterparts.
In terms of consumer perspective, up until now there was a great deal of distance between the FIFAs of this world and previous cricket games,” he comments.
Don Bradman Cricket has closed the gap significantly.”
This demand is set to grow further, as Bradman's latest virtual outing rides the fervor around some of the most prominent events in the cricket calendar.
This is the biggest year for cricket in a long time with the World Cup, Indian Premier League and Ashes all happening in the same year,” explains Clemens.
Our advertising will reflect these opportunities, with a constant presence in specialist and related consumer areas.”
One of the latest cricket video games to have stuck in public memory is Ashes Cricket 2013.
Released a year and a half ago to widespread criticism and mockery surrounding its lackluster gameplay and broken AI, the title was delayed repeatedly and withdrawn from sale soon after release.
Clemens says that the problems with Ashes Cricket drove developer Big Ant Studios to ensure that Don Bradman Cricket would not suffer the same fate.
The release of Ashes Cricket 2013 certainly lead to some confusion in the marketplace,
as like Don Bradman Cricket it was even made in Melbourne,” he states.
It made it far more imperative that we gain distance from that product and differentiate ourselves from it in every way possible.”
Consumer confusion isn't the only negative effect Ashes Cricket 2013 has had on Don Bradman Cricket.
Most of the cricket licences were held by the failed Ashes game, so we could not avail ourselves of them,” Clemens explains.
But, he adds, not being able to use offical teams and grounds actually helped with the design of the new title.
Not having the licences has allowed us the flexibility to make the game that we wanted. We allow users to create and share their own content via a third-party server so this has not been an impediment.”
Don Bradman Cricket includes several new additions to its PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 predecessor.
Don Bradman Cricket for PS4 and Xbox One has all of the content available to PS3 and Xbox 360, plus all of the patches that have been applied to the Steam release,” explains Clemens.
In addition to this, everything is rendered in much higher fidelity and cool functions only available to PS4 and Xbox One have been implemented, such as streaming, Remote Play on Vita, Share Play and the like.”
He concludes that the new features are sure to attract new cricket fans to the Don Bradman Cricket IP, as well as bringing existing fans of the franchise across to an updated generation of hardware.
We are hoping that people see that there is a significant difference between the generation of titles and see that Don Bradman Cricket has great longevity in terms of gameplay and is great use of their entertainment pound.”