The most successful boxers are also among the highest-paid and wealthiest sporting celebrities, while pay-per-view bouts for world championship titles can attract millions of viewers around the globe. The biggest stars of the ring also boast huge followings on social networks, underlining the fact that they are easily marketable and always in demand.
Yet, for some strange reason, compared to sports like soccer, basketball, or American football, games based around the art of pugilism rarely seem to enjoy much success. There are popular WWE wrestling and UFC fighting titles out there, although boxing continues to be regarded as more of a niche in the gaming scene.
Interestingly, due to the huge amount of publicity surrounding the top bouts in boxing, especially when there’s a championship title on the line, boxing always attracts plenty of betting interest. Within the latest list of the top betting sites reviewed by SBO, boxing always features highly amongst the major sports covered by international sportsbooks, including those offering the best odds and promotions.
Nevertheless, there still seems to be a distinct lack of knockout quality boxing games, whether on PC or consoles, although that could change later this year with some exciting upcoming titles in the pipeline.
eSports Boxing Club
Just like many professional sports, licensing and image rights can often be a massive hurdle for games developers, particularly if they are aiming to produce a big-budget game. Despite this being a troublesome hurdle to overcome, eSports Boxing Club (ESBC) already boasts a huge list of more than 100 fully licensed real-world boxers. This includes current professionals and world champions, along with legendary boxers of the past.
That will certainly be an advantage for development studio Steel City Interactive, while the eSports Boxing Club title also hints at promoting their game to the eSports arena, which could prove to be another way to boost the popularity of this game. Indeed, the developers have also mentioned that ESBC will feature online tournaments, giving players the chance to be crowned the eWBC Champion of the World.
The winner of those tournaments will even be presented with a physical belt by the World Boxing Council (WBC), which underlines an important license agreement already in place. At the moment, “coming soon” is the only information available regarding the release date, either via the developer website or their Steam page. However, they say this is due to their desire to create the best possible experience, which is undoubtedly going to take time.
Still, if we can remain patient, eSports Boxing Club certainly promises to fill the gaping void for genuinely realistic games based around professional boxing. They promise to expand the list of licensed boxers tied to the game already, while ESBC will also have an in-depth character creator feature, allowing us to make our fully customized fighters. Along with the obvious online eSports focus, there are plans for career modes and a story mode for a single player.
Over the last few years, arguably one of the most novel and unique boxing-themed games was Punch Club, an indie title released by Lazy Bear Games in 2016 that received widespread critical acclaim. The secret ingredient was a combination of genres, which by their own description was an adventure boxing management tycoon simulation. Even the retro graphical art style had a charm of its own.
Well, taking a leaf out of the same book, Expired Studios is aiming to bring us the kind of boxing story that made the Rocky movies popular. Haymaker is an 80’s boxing game that takes place in the blue-collar rustbelt, according to the developer blurb. They have also taken the same graphical approach as Punch Club, using colorful 8-bit visuals, albeit with surprising detail and clarity, to define characters and scenes.
The core of the game is obviously boxing, training, and managing your character to success, as the classic rags to riches tale unfolds. But it’s also about exploration of memorable environments and interacting with unforgettable characters, whether brawling with thugs in a bar or fighting for world championship titles in the boxing ring.
Perhaps the only downside to Haymaker, this is a very small indie production and appears to be the work of just one person, which means this could take a while to be finished. There does seem to be a plan for an early access release via Steam, so hopefully, it won’t be too long before we can sample what this promising little title has to offer.