May 23, 2011: New deals between the NBA and its videogame partners show that while the live action aspects of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki still drive the sport, having control over simulated versions of NBA stars continues to hit home with the league's core demographic.
The NBA said it has renewed alliances with both 2K Sports and EA Sports. Financial terms and lengths of the deals were not disclosed.
2K's NBA 2K11 has sold more than five million units worldwide since its release on Oct. 5, 2010, making it the best-selling game in the history of 2K Sports, and the most popular NBA 2K title in the 13-year history of the franchise, according to the company.
The cover athlete was Michael Jordan, who also was prominently featured in the game.
Under the new deal, 2K Sports said it would "explore new NBA licensed gaming opportunities, including online and social media platforms."
EA Sports has been an NBA licensee since 1991 and launched its cornerstone hoops game, NBA Live, in 1995. EA is planning to debut a new 5-on-5 NBA simulation title in the Fall of 2012.
Last October, EA Sports revived NBA Jam, a popular arcade game from the early 1990’s. The next generation edition, NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, is being developed for release in the Fall of 2011.
Like 2K, EA Sports is also expanding across new media outlets, including the iPad and iPhone.
The company has also been title sponor of NBA Europe Live Presented by EA Sports, the league's annual pre-season international tour.
On the downside, EA Sports delayed the release of its NBA Elite 11 title, which initially was touted with much fanfare, in order to improve overall quality.
"The decision to delay NBA Elite was hard because the game has great promise," EA Sports president Peter Moore said this past September. "But ultimately we feel this is the right thing to do. We've been making steady progress on basketball for the past few years and it's going to take extra time to make the game."
Despite that, the NBA sees a great upside in its videogame alliances.
“We have had successful and longstanding relationships with both 2K Sports and EA Sports,” Sal LaRocca, evp-NBA global merchandising, said in a statement. “Extending our agreements with the top sports videogame developers continues to maximize our presence in this category, while ensuring our fans the best selection of NBA video games.”
According to the NBA, Take-Two and EA will each have the rights to use NBA teams and players in their NBA videogame titles. Throughout the agreements, the league will work closely with Take-Two and EA to "promote the basketball video games through global marketing, promotional programs, and multiple assets." including NBA TV, NBA.com, and grassroots events.
“Extending our agreements with the top sports videogame developers continues to maximize our presence in this category."
“We’re pleased to continue our longstanding partnership with the NBA,” said Jordan Edelstein, vp-marketing for EA Sports. “With our all-new digital download of NBA Jam coming this fall and a new simulation title in development for release next year, we have a strong lineup of innovative NBA titles coming soon from EA Sports.”
According to Strauss Zelnick, CEO of 2K Sports' parent company, Take-Two, “The top-selling NBA 2K series continues to be a pillar of Take-Two’s foundation for growth. We’re confident that our renewed partnership with the NBA will extend the unparalleled success of this franchise. We’re thrilled to be in business with . . . the entire team at the NBA.”
“2K Sports provides our fans with an incredible gaming experience, one that captures both the excitement of our game and the athleticism of our players,” commented Adam Silver, NBA Deputy Commissioner. “Coming off a record-breaking year with NBA 2K11, we look forward to continuing our successful partnership.”