As the cover athlete for 2K’s latest NBA release, Oklahoma City Thunder superstar, reigning NBA MVP, and all-around good guy extraordinaire, Kevin Durant recently released some gameplay footage for the upcoming NBA 2K15. Needless to say, the response has been overwhelming.
As a person who grew up in the days of the original Nintendo, trying to find realistic sports games in those days was pretty much impossible. R.B.I. Baseball and Tennis were the closest things to realism on the original Nintendo Entertainment System. If you wanted a football game, Tecmo Bowl was the closest thing to realism you’d find, although your playbook consisted of a mere 4 plays. (Heavy running teams would have 3 running plays to 1 pass play. West Coast offenses had 3 pass plays to 1 running play. Most teams, however, had an even 2-2 split.) Although the legacy of that game is so enduring, there is an entire website devoted to it. And for basketball, you had Arch Rivals, as this was before the days of NBA Jam.
Once the 16-bit systems hit the market, Electronic Arts started scoring big with the Madden franchise. Despite the fact that the same play worked virtually every single time, it was nice to have a much-more expanded playbook to experiment with. And with the NBA Jam franchise, Midway made no attempts whatsoever to strive for realism, as over-the-top, arcade-style basketball play was it’s defining feature. As a matter of fact, that game is what popularized the saying, “He’s on fire!”, as 3 unanswered buckets would earn one of your two players, “the hot hand”.
The 32-bit systems made full 3D gameplay models within the games themselves finally possible. This was when development studios started striving for much more realism, with the NFL Gameday series being a perfect example of this. This was the point where the Electronic Arts studios began to corner the market on realism in sports games, with the entire EA Sports division’s motto being, “If it’s in the game, it’s in the game.”
This was when EA began the very ambitious project of monopolizing the sports gaming market entirely. They succeeded with the NFL, as Madden is the only officially licensed NFL game on the market these days.
Then they tried it with the NBA. Luckily, they failed to monopolize the basketball market, as new developer 2K Games basically put their middle fingers straight in the face of EA, and refused to step aside. Then as EA started striving for more realism in their NBA games, 2K started outperforming them every time they turned around.
There’s a reason that 2K is more widely regarded than EA in terms of the NBA video game market. And while I would just compare screenshots of the two products to show you the difference, EA’s development team is apparently so far behind on NBA Live 15, that I have yet to even hear the first bit of news regarding it.
While EA may be on top of their game as far as the NFL is concerned, 2K is obviously eating EA’s lunch in terms of their respective NBA products. I will end this particular article with an NBA meme from last year’s showdown between the two: