Video games are good at simulating things – but sometimes they almost seem to get TOO good.
For decades video games have simulated everything. Cities, people, worlds, and yes, even ants. But when sports are thrown into the mix, things get interesting. So what happens when the AI played itself? Well...
1. The Madden NFL series correctly predicts most Super Bowls
Ever since its first game in 1988, Madden NFL was an iconic game. Today it is one of the top sports games in the world despite the fact that it's namesake is no longer announcing and that anyone who appears on the cover is sure to get hurt in the near future.
But besides hours of fun playing games with friends and trying to see if you can tackle coaches and mascots on the sidelines, Madden also has a feature that allows two AI sides to play each other. In this option, basically it becomes a real game – except for the fact that it's the PS4/Xbox One/ PC playing the sides. EA took notice, and in 2004 began simulating all upcoming Super Bowl games with the latest Madden. The results? PRETTY DAMN ACCURATE. In 2011 they found that out of the previous 7 games, 6 of them picked winners (with similar results since).
If that wasn't freaky enough, the scores were also pretty close. Super Bowl XLIII had the Steelers beating the Cardinals 28-24. Simulated version before? 27-23. Super Bowl XL Had the Steelers beating the Seahawks 24-19, with the simulated score being 21-10. In almost every case it was within 10 points of difference. So next time you need to bet on the Super Bowl, watch a simulated Madden game first – your odds are pretty damn high of it being right.
2. EA Sports predicted Spain to win the World Cup in 2010
However, it's not only American football predictions that come true: there is also everywhere else football to think of as well. FIFA puts out a new game each year, but every 4 years comes the special World Cup addition. And just like Madden you can run simulations on the FIFA games as well. Which is what EA sports did in 2010.
Running the game on “auto” from the group stages the game turned out to give a pretty accurate telling of what was going to happen. While the game finally did get something wrong in who Spain would end up playing in real life (Real life being the Netherlands and the game being Brazil), the game did what few others predicted – Spain winning their first World Cup ever.
While their “Germany beat Brazil” prediction this year needs to be waited on to see if it comes true, EA now has a track record of giving winners for soccer now. Well soccer and football. Wait, we meant soccer, football and...
3. Hockey games predict the Stanley Cup winners
EA is a bit more murky in predicting hockey winners. Some years they have said the Penguins would (they did not), while others they got some right and some wrong. They are simulations, what do you expect. But in 2012, everybody laughed at them when they picked eight seed LA Kings (the lowest seed in the West) to win the cup in six games.
Guess what? EA had the last laugh win the Kings did end up winning. In six games. JUST AS THEY SAID. But that was not just a fluke, as EAs predictions for hockey have been getting better and better as well. Blackhawks as 2010 winners? Yup. The final 2 teams in 2011? Yup. 13 out of 15 team playoffs being correct in 2011? Yup.
So while the past few years have been a bit iffy, perhaps EA is just slacking a bit before everyone thinks their sports department are secretly geniuses who make their games as accurately as possible. So run those simulations and see how accurate they can be – the results may just shock you in the end.