As one of America’s most popular sports, Basketball video games are big business
Just like the FIFA series of soccer games, new NBA titles are now released on an annual basis. Similar to the soccer game market, the genre is dominated by just two franchises nowadays – NBA Live and NBA 2K. One key difference however is that the NBA has not given an exclusive license to either of these two major franchises, which means you can find the real players and teams in both games.
There are still some older games that are worth playing too though, such as the NBA Jam series, which always offered faster albeit less realistic action than the more simulation-based Live and 2K series. And the NBA 2K Playgrounds sub-series makes an interesting alternative to the mainstream line as well, although again, it hasn’t seen a new release for a few years now.
There’s some debate amongst gamers as to whether the changes made in NBA2K21 actually improved on the formula of this iconic franchise, and many players are still playing the former NBA2K20 as a result of this. It will be interesting to see what direction Visual Concepts and Saber Interactive take when they release their next iteration NBA2K20 in September this year.
One area that has seen drastic improvements this year has been the MyCAREER mode, which enables you to take your player through either past seasons – in stunningly accurate detail – or future ones, using artificial intelligence to predict what is going to happen in the real-world NBA over the next few years. You could even use your progress in future seasons that have not yet occurred to make bets with Unibet IN, and it wouldn’t be surprising if more than a couple of the predictions the game makes turn out to pass!
The NBA2K series was formerly published by Sega before they sold their Visual Concepts studio to Take-Two Interactive in 2004, who then created a specific 2K Sports sublabel to push their various Sports titles.
There’s little doubt as far as the numbers are concerned that the NBA2K series is the fan-favorite as far as NBA Basketball games go. Across all platforms, NBA2K21 has sold eight million copies despite its new $70 price point on the next generation PlayStation5 and Xbox Series X/S platforms.
NBA Live 19
You’d think that if anybody could make a world-beating NBA Basketball game, it would be Electronic Arts. Alas, things haven’t been going so well for them with their NBA Live series, with NBA Live 20 and NBA Live 21 both being canceled late in development due to poor sales figures for NBA Live 19. This is a great shame because the Live series isn’t a bad alternative to the NBA2K series at all.
NBA Live 19 was a huge improvement over its predecessor, and early looks at the next two games looked very promising too. Electronic Arts are promising that the series is not dead, but that they won’t release the next game in the series until they feel they have a truly worthy competitor to the NBA2K series ready to present to their fans.
That’s an admirable position to take – whilst the halftime show is widely regarded as being superior in the Live series and the career mode is perhaps just as good as that offered by the NBA2K games, there is still much ground to be made up in other areas.
Graphics and animation are impressive, especially considering this game are two iterations behind its nearest competitor, and the lack of micro-transactions could be enough to make some players stick with this game over NBA2K21.
Okay, it may have been a long time since the last NBA Jam game, the On Fire Edition of 2011, but that doesn’t make it any less playable or enjoyable today. If you are an Xbox player, the 360 version of On Fire is still playable via backward compatibility on the latest Xbox One and Series S/X consoles, but PlayStation fans will be disappointed to find they’ll need to hook up their Playstation 3 to enjoy some of the classic Arcade action of NBA Jam.
It’s a sad state of affairs for a franchise that began way back on the Sega Megadrive/Genesis and Super Nintendo back in 1993, but the license is currently held by Electronic Arts, giving some hope that it will be resurrected in the future.
The first-ever “career mode” – then called “Create a player” appeared in NBA Jam, the gameplay is crazy and exciting, and you can even unlock politicians such as Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and the Beastie Boys in certain versions of the game. It might not be the most current NBA Basketball game, but NBA Jam is a true classic with a different, look, feel and style to its more modern competitors.