@counterclockwork87: OK. I am a person who has zero interest in sports. If they disappeared off the face of the planet, I would not give them a second thought. I'd much rather be given something with a great aesthetic sense, an interesting story, or great music. Still, I'm surrounded by a society that advertises sports all the time. They put them on shirts, plaster them on TV, throw them all over ads, and I get funny looks when I say I don't have a favorite sports team or have never sat down to watch "the game".
I don't have any problems with this, but it also makes me want to avoid things associated with sports. Do these games have great mechanics? Well, probably, but whatever mechanics the games might have aren't enough to make me ignore all of the other stuff that I simply don't like surrounding it. Also, since these mechanics have to focus on realistically representing the game, can anything new or noteworthy actually be done with them? You mentioned Shin Megami Tensei - there's a fairly sharp contrast between pre-Nocturne and post-Nocturne SMT games due to the press-turns that most of those games now have (or, rather, some variation of Nocturne's press-turns). What do sports games do that's worth talking about every year? When boiled down to pure mechanics, what does NBA 2K11 do that's so much better than NBA 2K10 or 09 or whichever game came before it? This is an honest question, not a dismissive and rhetorical one.
It's more than just the mechanics believer, but yes every year they do get better usually. Take NBA 2K11 & 2K12 in 2K12 they vastly improved post-play meaning meaning having the ball with your back right near the basket. They added various ways to pull off moves that can generate points near the rim. Now, any regular old joe might not notice these changes but someone who knows the video game well will.
I would compare it to a fighting game like Ultra Street Figther IV or something, a harddcore fan will recognize the changes and how it changes competitive balance.
But I'm actually not even talking about that when it comes to the 2K games I'm talking a lot of what they do around the game like in 2K11 when they had the Jordan mode. What was great about it is you could play through specific instances in famous games featuring Michael Jordan but the scenarios would change based on the circumstances. So if you're playing a game from 1992 with the Bulls vs the Magic the game will look like a game shot in 1992 with onscreen graphics from that era and commentary acting like we are in '92. You also have goals in the game that match what Jordan did in that game. So if he hit 6 3-pointers you have to do the same.
Yes, the core game can only be so different because it simulating a real thing, but that doesn't mean meaningful things can't be done within them. Think of Forza, its trying the simulate a real thing but that real thing can be quite fun! Even if the most they can do is simulate it perfectly theres the surrounding stuff that really makes it fun. This is why (citing Forza again) Jeff didnt like Forza 5 because the surrounding stuff like the microtransactions killed it.