NBA 2K: A Love Letter

The importance of the franchise’s 20th anniversary

Dear NBA 2K,

This year is the 20th anniversary of your release. Make no mistake, it’s a significant milestone. Your success in sports games is unparalleled, except perhaps for the ever-loved EA Sports’ FIFA. You started off on the Sega Dreamcast with the great Allen Iverson as your cover athlete.

You stood on the shoulders of the first basketball game endorsed by the NBA in 1989: Lakers versus Celtics and the NBA Playoffs. Your only real rival was EA’s NBA Live, a title now banished to the broom closet of NBA fans’ minds and hearts. In 2005, 2K Sports began publishing you, a change that has turned 2K into the perennial success every year.

As an avid basketball and gaming fan, I am always ravenous every year to get my hands on the latest title, and play as all my favourite rookies and some of the all-time greats. Your improvements in visuals and gameplay over the years has been incredible.

Despite going on hiatus from 2009 until 2013, NBA Live decided it would have another go at competing with you. It did not end well. When it comes to the market dominance 2K possesses, the best tool to describe that is a picture. Just look below. Your success speaks for itself.

Yeah…it’s not pretty is it? It truly makes you wonder why EA even bothered bringing back NBA Live doesn’t it? I first started playing 2K in 2011, yet even then there was something special about it. The ability to control your favourite players on the court was magical. The competition between my brother and myself, battling as some of the all time great players, was scintillating.

Unlike a lot of games where you’re thrown into unrealistic situations that are not possible in real life, 2K lets you experience the reality of hundreds of talented and skilled individuals. Whether it’s throwing down vicious tomahawk dunks or pulling up in transition for a deep three pointer, 2K, you make it all real.

Over the years you’ve even dabbled with improved cinematics and the wonder of motion capture technology, attempting to create riveting and engaging single player story experiences. This culminated in the NBA 2K16 MyCareer mode, when famous film director Spike Lee wrote, directed and produced the MyCareer story. Want a bit of advice? People don’t care that much about story in 2K. They just want to play basketball. Don’t go away from that.

Your MyCareer mode seems to be your focus recently. 2K18 saw the introduction of The Neighborhood, an explorable and open world area online for players. For whatever reason though, you’ve decided to make it harder for people to upgrade and improve their players.

Is this because you want 2K to be more realistic, having to grind and work hard to improve your player’s talents, or is it because you want that delicious money from microtransactions? Again, 2K, if you want a bit of advice, please don’t forget your roots. People should only have to buy a game once.

As your 20th anniversary comes around, you stand as one of the most successful game franchises of all time, and as one of the most loved by sport fans. Keep up your hard work 2K. I can’t wait to see what you have to offer on your 30 anniversary.

A Fan.

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